Themes

  • Royal Connections

  • Political

  • Historical

Fairytale Castles of Kent

Regal Splendor in the Garden of England

Prices From $5,400p/p

We explore the romantic county of Kent on this fascinating tour as we learn about its role shaping English history, and discover some of its famous residents such as Ann Boleyn, Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill, in his former home of Chartwell. In a county famed for its castles, we also explore historic Hever Castle, impressive Leeds Castle and the treasure house of Chiddingstone Castle.

Special extras included in your itinerary
• Audio guided tour of Leeds Castle
• Exclusive ‘early bird’ garden tour of Sissinghurst Castle Garden
• Guided tour of Hever Castle
• Guided tour of Chiddingstone Castle
• Guided walking tour of Canterbury
• Guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral
• Guided tour of Godinton House
• Audio guided tour of Windsor Castle
• Guided walking tour of Windsor
• Audio guided tour at Blenheim Palace
• Themed evening talk by a guest speaker

Day 1
Sunday: 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
Monday: Windsor Castle, Windsor and Chartwell

We enjoy an audio guided tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and one of the Queen’s official residences. Established in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, it has been remodelled by successive kings and queens and is regularly used for ceremonial and State occasions. The magnificent State Apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art from the Royal Collection while St George’s Chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England and was the recent venue for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s marriage. 

Afterwards, we enjoy a guided walking tour of Windsor. Lying on the south bank of the River Thames, this ancient royal town, which grew up around the castle, has a rich mix of culture and history. The Old Town retains its picturesque medieval appearance with cobbled streets, winding alleyways and lovely half-timbered houses.

Later, we travel south east to Kent where we pay a visit to Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s beloved home from 1924 to the time of his death. The house is set in a stunning location and is still home to many of the great statesman’s personal and political mementos, including an amazing collection of gifts he received from other world leaders and his personal painting studio hidden away in the colorful grounds.

After our visit, we travel on to the Chilston Park Hotel where we stay for the next four nights. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.  

Day 3
Tuesday: Sissinghurst Castle Garden and Bodiam Castle

This morning we head to Sissinghurst Castle Garden where we enjoy an exclusive ‘early bird’ garden tour. Created in the 1930s by novelist Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson around the picturesque ruins of an Elizabethan manor house, these world-famous gardens are laid out as a series of enchanting, individually-planted ‘rooms’ including a fragrant Herb Garden and Rose Garden.

We then discover Bodiam Castle, one of Britain’s most picturesque and romantic ancient monuments. This archetypal 14th-century moated castle with a ruined interior gives us a glimpse of medieval splendor and boasts an original wooden portcullis, spiral staircases, tower rooms and battlements.

In the evening, we head to a traditional local pub where we enjoy dinner together.

Day 4
Wednesday: Hever Castle and Chiddingstone Castle

We head to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, where we enjoy a guided tour. Dating back to the late 13th century, this double-moated castle is home to various historic artifacts including Tudor portraits and fine furniture, as well as two prayer books inscribed by Anne Boleyn. The castle was lavishly restored and extended by American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor, in the early 20th century. The spectacular gardens feature peaceful walks, two mazes and are renowned for having their own Hever Castle Rose.

Next is Chiddingstone Castle where we enjoy a guided tour. Set in 35 acres of beautiful grounds, the castle has undergone a number of architectural changes; from its beginnings as an early timber-framed Tudor dwelling to a rebuild to resemble a medieval castle in the early 19th century. Today it houses the collections of the late antiquarian Denys Eyre Bower including Japanese lacquer, Ancient Egyptian treasures, Stuart paintings and Jacobite manuscripts. The Victorian kitchen and servants’ hall give a taste of the former 'upstairs downstairs' life of the house.

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

Day 5
Thursday: Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral and Godinton House

We start the day in Canterbury. The city has a fascinating history which we learn about on our guided walking tour. We also enjoy a guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in England, dating back to Norman times. In 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral and ever since, it has been a site of Christian pilgrimage. The cathedral contains one of England’s largest collections of early medieval stained glass while its awe-inspiring architecture includes a sweeping Gothic nave and cavernous crypt.

Our next stop is Godinton House, a delightful Jacobean house incorporating a medieval hall and ornate carvings. Godinton is a comfortable, much-loved home where each room reflects the tastes of those who have lived here over the centuries with an excellent collection of furniture, art, porcelain and curios which we discover on our guided tour. We also have time to explore the 12 acres of tranquil gardens, surrounded by ancient parkland.

We enjoy dinner together back at the hotel tonight.

Day 6
Friday: Down House and Leeds Castle

Our first stop today is Down House, home of scientist Charles Darwin and his family for 40 years. Several rooms have been recreated as they appeared when he lived here including the study where he wrote 'On the Origin of Species'. The house is surrounded by extensive gardens; Darwin's 'outdoor laboratory'.

Before leaving Kent we visit Leeds Castle, a quintessential moated castle set in 500 acres of glorious parkland, where we enjoy an audio guided tour. Dating back to the 12th century, it was once home to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. The castle’s last private owner was Lady Baillie, an Anglo-American heiress who lovingly restored the castle to its former glory. We discover more of the castle’s fascinating history as well as its wealth of furnishings, paintings, tapestries and antiques on display.

We then return to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, our base for the last three nights of our stay. Later, we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.

Day 7
Saturday: Blenheim Palace

We spend the day at Blenheim Palace, set in beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, where we enjoy an audio guided tour. As the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, the palace is synonymous with the Churchill family and is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. A permanent exhibition commemorates the life of this famous wartime Prime Minister, whilst the magnificent State Rooms reveal a superb collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture.

The evening is left free for you to make your own dinner arrangements.

Day 8
Sunday: Hampton Court Palace

Our destination today is Hampton Court Palace, former royal residence of Henry VIII. Here we discover the State Rooms, the Great Hall (England’s last and greatest medieval hall), the vast Tudor kitchens and the Chapel Royal with its sumptuous ceiling decoration. Outside, the formal gardens cover over 60 acres and highlights include the Great Vine planted by ‘Capability’ Brown, and the Hampton Court Palace Maze which consists of half a mile of winding paths surrounded by towering yew tree walls.

Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner together at our hotel.

Day 9
Monday: Departure

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

What’s Included
• Airport transfers from London Heathrow*
• 4 nights at the Macdonald Windsor Hotel
• 4 nights at the Chilston Park Hotel
• Welcome drink and canapés
• Full English breakfast each day
• 3-course table d’hôte dinner on 6 nights at the hotels (with after dinner tea and coffee)
• 1 dinner at a traditional local pub
• Services of a tour director throughout your stay
• Travel to and from all excursions
• All entrance costs
• Porterage

*supplement applies for transfers from all other airports

Special extras included in your itinerary
• Audio guided tour of Leeds Castle
• Exclusive ‘early bird’ garden tour of Sissinghurst Castle Garden
• Guided tour of Hever Castle
• Guided tour of Chiddingstone Castle
• Guided walking tour of Canterbury
• Guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral
• Guided tour of Godinton House
• Audio guided tour of Windsor Castle
• Guided walking tour of Windsor
• Audio guided tour at Blenheim Palace
• Themed evening talk by a guest speaker

Night One and Nights Six to Eight – 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 Five – Chilston Park Hotel
Set in 22 acres of parkland in the heart of Kent, the Chilston Park Hotel is an elegant 17th-century manor house. Once home to eminent politicians, writers, Lords and Viscounts, the hotel is filled with antiques dating from as far back as the 17th century and offers the classic comforts of a British country house hotel.