South West English Manor Houses & the Downton Experience

South West English Manor Houses & the Downton Experience



The picturesque South West of England is home to a veritable treasure trove of impressive stately homes and atmospheric manors. These magnificent properties boast extraordinary interiors and often feature fascinating garden styles and parkland too, many of which were created by 18th-century garden design trendsetters such as ‘Capability’ Brown. On this tour, we uncover some of these classic and sometimes hidden gems, from the Elizabethan Longleat House to the tranquil Heale House Gardens and Italianate Peto Garden. We have a wonderful Downton Abbey experience with a special visit to Highclere House, an evening Downton-themed event and a tour of filming locations of this classic television series and film.

Pricing from

No single supplement – limited availability!

Trip Type
Individual Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
Departure Dates
Aug 1, 2021 - Aug 10, 2021


Nights One and Nine – Macdonald Windsor Hotel
The Macdonald Windsor Hotel is situated in the heart of the historic town of Windsor, opposite the famous Windsor Castle. The classic interiors, with a contemporary edge, fit perfectly with the Georgian elegance of this townhouse hotel. The luxury bedrooms are individually-designed and the hotel also offers a stylish bar and restaurant.

Nights Two to Eight – Bailbrook House Hotel, Bath
Dating back to the early 1790s, Bailbrook House Hotel is a country house hotel situated just a few minutes from Bath. Set within 20 acres of private grounds, the hotel offers classically-decorated bedrooms located in a new wing as well as the original house, two restaurants, three elegant lounges and a conservatory bar.


Free private transfers to/from London Heathrow



SW English Gardens map


  • day 1

    August 1: Arrival

    On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to our overnight hotel, the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.

  • day 2

    August 2: Highclere Castle and Lacock Abbey

    Today we journey to the world-famous Highclere Castle, residence of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and filming location for the much loved Downton Abbey television series, and now a major film. As part of your special visit today you will visit the house and gardens. Entrance also includes access to the Egyptian Exhibition, which explores the achievements of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.

    We then head to Lacock Abbey, which sits at the heart of Lacock village with golden stone cloisters and a Great Hall. Once a medieval nunnery, the abbey was turned into a family home by William Henry Fox Talbot who invented the first photographic negative. Downton viewers may recognise the village of Lacock from the television series, and we also visit this charming little village today.

    Later we check in to the Bailbrook House Hotel where we stay for seven nights.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 3

    August 3: Longleat and Georgian House Museum

    Today we head to Longleat House, widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest examples of Elizabethan architecture. Substantially completed by 1580, Longleat House is set within 900 acres of stunning ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland featuring a fine lawn, serpentine river, wooded hills and meandering pathways. We enjoy a guided tour of the impressive house with its priceless antiques and ornate painted ceilings, followed by lunch.

    Afterwards take a step back in time at the Georgian House Museum in Bristol. This 18th-century townhouse provides us with a fascinating insight into what life would have been like for sugar merchant John Pinney and his servants above and below stairs.

    This evening we enjoy dinner together at a restaurant in the bustling waterside city of Bristol.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 4

    August 4: Bath – Victoria Park, Herschel Museum of Astronomy, Roman Baths and Pump Rooms

    The day begins with a guided walking tour of Bath, an elegant Regency town. We enjoy a visit to Victoria Park, first opened in 1830 by the 11-year-old Princess Victoria, which is overlooked by the iconic Royal Crescent.

    We continue to the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, located in the former home of astronomer William Herschel. We visit the museum’s garden, which is a re-creation of the garden as it might have appeared during Herschel’s discovery of the planet Uranus, laid to recreate a typical planting scheme for a Georgian town house.

    Next, we are transported back to Roman times as we enjoy a guided tour of the town’s ancient Roman Baths. We explore the extensive bathing complex, one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world, which still flows with natural hot water before we finish with afternoon tea at the elegant Georgian Bath Pump Rooms.

    After dinner back at the hotel, we are treated to a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 5

    August 5: Wells, Bishop’s Palace & Gardens and Stourhead

    Our day starts in the cathedral city of Wells, with its eclectic mix of historic buildings and quaint narrow streets. Here we discover the Bishop’s Palace & Gardens, a unique medieval palace which has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years. We enjoy an expert-led tour of highlights such as the private Chapel and the beautiful Royal Horticultural Society partner gardens.

    We continue to Stourhead, renowned for its 18th-century landscaped garden, a delight of classical temples, exotic trees, hidden grottos and a magnificent lake. The grand Palladian house is no less of a draw, with its Chippendale furniture and one of the finest Regency libraries left in existence.

    Later, we enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 6

    August 6: Bradford-on-Avon, The Peto Garden, Great Chalfield Manor and Prior Park Landscape Garden

    We travel first to Bradford-on-Avon, an enchanting town full of historic buildings and quaint streets to explore. Next we enjoy a guided tour of The Peto Garden at Ilford Manor, designed by the distinguished British garden designer Harold Peto. Evoking Peto’s love of Italy, the gardens are characterised by colonnades, pools and ancient statues.

    Our next visit is Great Chalfield Manor, a charming moated manor built in the 15th century for Thomas Tropenell, a modest member of the landed gentry who made his fortune as a clothier. Outside, the romantic gardens offer terraces, topiary houses, colorful borders and delightful views.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

  • day 7

    August 7: Bowood House and The Courts Garden

    This morning we travel to Bowood House where we enjoy a guided tour followed by lunch. Family home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, Bowood houses a unique collection of historical artifacts, from Queen Victoria’s wedding chair to Napoleon’s death mask. Outside are 100 acres of beautiful parkland, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown.

    We continue on to The Courts Garden, a quintessentially English country garden superbly planted and maintained with seven acres of colorful plants, herbaceous borders and peaceful water gardens.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • day 8

    August 8: Cogges Manor Farm, Swinbrook, Bampton and Castle Coombe

    We enjoy a scenic drive to some of the picturesque locations used in filming Downton Abbey. We drive through Swinbrook, a beautiful Cotswolds village where the local pub, the Swan Inn has featured in the television series, before stopping in the traditional Cotswold village of Bampton, which doubles as the fictional village of Downton. Many scenes, including several key events in the series have been filmed in and around the church in Bampton, as well as a number of local pubs, shops and the post office which will be familiar to Downton viewers. We will stop for lunch in a famed local country inn that sits on the River Thames and has a great reputation for food.

    We continue on to Cogges Manor Farm, an important heritage site with a 13th-century manor house and historic farm buildings. The farm featured as Yew Tree Farm in the series and is a fascinating archive of farm life through the years.

    En-route back to Bath we visit Castle Combe, one of the most picture-perfect English villages you could find which has also featured in Downton Abbey, along with a host of other television series.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • day 9

    August 9: Heale House Gardens, Winchester and Winchester Cathedral

    The day begins at Heale House Gardens, a beautiful garden designed by Harold Peto in both Edwardian and Tudor styles. Set in the grounds of historic Heale House, mostly unchanged since King Charles II hid there in 1651, these eight acres of beautiful gardens include a delightful mixture of styles including a walled garden and Japanese water garden with its authentic Japanese tea house and red Nikko bridge.

    We then head to the cathedral city of Winchester, England’s ancient capital, where we enjoy lunch. We then enjoy a guided tour of the awe-inspiring Winchester Cathedral where we discover its hidden treasures, including the tomb of Jane Austen and the Winchester Bible, one of the finest 12th-century bibles to have survived.

    From here we return to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • day 10

    August 10: Departure

    A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.

Everything you need to know about the tour

Save this information for later by downloading the full tour brochure.

Be prepared with the National Trust Travel Plan

Since 1973, USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services has served travelers just like you, to help protect their travel plans