A Tour Around the Treasure Houses of England -  June 2023

A Tour Around the Treasure Houses of England - June 2023

A Tour Around the Treasure Houses of England - June 2023

Prices From $6,640p/p

The Treasure Houses of England are a collection of the most magnificent palaces, houses and castles, each with its own unique charm, stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. Most are still homes to the great families who have owned them for generations and together, the houses display some of the most important art collections in the world, showcasing exquisite examples of fine furniture, porcelain, china and portraiture. On this captivating tour, we explore nine of these impressive places, alongside other historic gems, giving us a fascinating insight into life in England over the centuries.

Special extras included in your itinerary
• Guided Palace House tour at Beaulieu
• Audio guided tour at Leeds Castle
• Exclusive out-of-hours Champagne guided tour of Hatfield House including Champagne greeting, a two-hour guide and complimentary guidebook
• Private guided tour of Holkham Hall led by Hall Steward with refreshments
• Guided tour of Doddington Hall and Gardens
• Guided tour of Chatsworth House
• Private guided tour of Castle Howard, with refreshments and guidebook
• Guided tour and lunch at Harewood House
• Guided tour of Burghley House
• Audio guided tour and afternoon tea 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 the Audleys Wood Hotel, our base for the next two nights. In the evening join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.

Meals: Dinner

Day 2
Monday: Beaulieu

After breakfast, we make our way to the Beaulieu Estate, set in the heart of the New Forest National Park. Here we enjoy a guided tour of Palace House, once the gatehouse of the medieval Beaulieu Abbey, and the ancestral home of the Montagu family since 1538. Remodeled and extended in the 1800s, it is now a fine example of a Victorian Gothic style country house adorned with family treasures, portraits and memorabilia, including Lord Montagu’s library. Palace House was also one of the first historic houses to open to the public in 1952, thanks to the innovative character of Edward, Lord Montagu.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3
Tuesday: RHS Garden Wisley and Leeds Castle

Today we travel first to RHS Garden Wisley, the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden, gifted to the Society in 1903. Extending over 240 peaceful acres – from beautiful rose and demonstration gardens to tranquil tracts of woodland – Wisley offers a wealth of inspirational ideas on design, innovation and cultivation techniques. The state-of-the-art Glasshouse is divided into three main planting zones representing desert, tropical and temperate climates.

Our next stop is Leeds Castle, a quintessential moated castle set in 500 acres of glorious parkland. 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 about the castle’s fascinating history with its wealth of furnishings, paintings, tapestries and antiques during our audio guided tour.

From here, we travel the short distance to the Chilston Park Hotel, where we stay overnight. After dinner at the hotel we are treated to a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4
Wednesday: Hatfield House

We travel northwards to Hatfield House, home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. The house was built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, one of Elizabeth I’s most important advisors. There are superb examples of Elizabethan craftsmanship such as the Grand Staircase with its elaborate carving and the rare stained glass window in the private chapel, while the State Rooms are rich in paintings, fine furniture and tapestries and we learn more on our exclusive, out-of-hours Champagne guided tour.

Hatfield is a sought-after filming location and has featured in many films and TV shows, including The Crown, Bridgerton, Rebecca, Anna Karenina and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. If we’re lucky, the estate may be providing the cinematic backdrop for the latest period drama during our visit, although this is not guaranteed.

Later we check in to the stunning Ickworth Hotel on the Ickworth Estate – a magnificent National Trust property, where we stay for the next two nights.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5
Thursday: Holkham Hall, Norfolk villages and Ickworth House

This morning we enjoy a private guided tour led by one of the most experienced Hall Stewards followed by refreshments at Holkham Hall, an elegant 18th-century country mansion constructed in the Palladian style for Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester. Set in a vast landscaped park, the hall is currently home to the 8th Earl of Leicester and his family. The spectacular Marble Hall, with its splendid colonnade and breathtaking 50ft domed ceiling, was inspired by the Temple of Fortuna Virilis and the Pantheon in Rome, while the magnificent State Rooms boast superb collections of ancient statuary, original furniture and tapestries plus works of art from the likes of Rubens, Van Dyck and Gainsborough.

We also make a short stop in Castle Acre and Swaffham. The tranquil village of Castle Acre boasts an extraordinary wealth of history. With its castle, parish church and abbey, it is a rare and complete survival of a Norman planned settlement, built by the Warennes, a great Norman baronial family. The small market town of Swaffham has many attractive Georgian buildings and was once home to a flourishing sheep and wool industry in the 14th and 15th centuries.

On returning to the Ickworth Estate we explore Ickworth House itself. This Neo-classical mansion is most notable for its enormous central Rotunda commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless treasures. The impressive Italianate garden mirrors the house architecture, with box hedges and Mediterranean planting plus a Victorian stumpery planted with shade-loving ferns.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6
Friday: Doddington Hall and Lincoln

Begun in 1595 by the great Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson, Doddington Hall was completed in 1600 and has never been sold or cleared out since. Still a much loved and lived-in family home, this fine Elizabethan mansion’s unfussy, symmetrical looking exterior contrasts with an elegant Georgian interior, full of captivating collections of weaponry, textiles, ceramics and family portraits that reflect 400 years of unbroken family occupation. We learn more on our guided tour of the hall and gardens.

After our visit, we head to Lincoln where we have some free time at leisure. Lincoln is a compact city with a well-preserved medieval quarter full of quaint cobbled streets. Don’t miss the chance to visit Lincoln Cathedral. Built in 1088, it is one of Europe’s finest Gothic buildings filled with intricate detail and beautiful medieval decoration.

From here, we make our way to the Middlethorpe Hall Hotel near York, where we stay for the next three nights.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7
Saturday: Chatsworth House

Today we travel to Derbyshire where we enjoy a guided tour of Chatsworth House. This magnificent pile is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has witnessed 16 generations of the powerful Cavendish family who acquired the estate in 1549. The house has evolved through the centuries to reflect the tastes, passions and interests of succeeding generations and boasts grandiose interiors and a superlative art collection while outside, the 1,000-acre park was chiefly designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8
Sunday: Castle Howard and York

Our first visit of the day is to Castle Howard, home to the Howard family for over 300 years, where we enjoy a private guided tour with refreshments and a complimentary guidebook. Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, Castle Howard has twice appeared as Brideshead in film and television adaptations of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel, as well as providing the backdrop for various scenes in the hit Netflix series, Bridgerton. This magnificent 18th-century residence, surmounted with its iconic gilded dome, offers world-renowned collections and stunning architecture, all set within 1,000 acres of breathtaking scenery.

We then return to York. The city is steeped in history, from its founding by the Romans in 71AD to its wealth as a medieval wool trading center and there is plenty of evidence of this fascinating past left to admire, from the Roman city walls to the surviving medieval streets known as the Shambles. A must-see is York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe and home to some of the most stunning stained glass windows that have led to the Minster being described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of England’.

Later this evening we enjoy dinner together at a local pub in York.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9
Monday: Harewood House

When Edwin Lascelles started building Harewood House in 1759, he employed the finest craftsmen of the time: York-born architect John Carr, interior designer Robert Adam, England’s greatest furniture maker Thomas Chippendale and visionary landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The house is also filled with an outstanding art collection ranging from Renaissance masterpieces to 20th-century art including paintings by JMW Turner, Reynolds, Titian and El Greco. Harewood is still home to the Lascelles family and reflects the changing tastes and styles of the past 250 years and we learn more on our tour followed by lunch.

Later we check in to the Stapleford Park Country House Hotel in Leicestershire, where we stay overnight.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10
Tuesday: Burghley House

This morning we start our journey south, stopping to enjoy a guided tour of Burghley House, cited as England’s greatest Elizabethan house, surrounded by magnificent parkland. Home to William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, Burghley offers a unique glimpse into the way great houses have been lived in from the time of Elizabeth I to the present day. Here we have time to explore the breathtaking State Rooms and the house’s historic collection of paintings, ceramics and works of art, many of which still stand where they were first recorded in 1688.

We continue on to the Hartwell House Hotel, one of the National Trust’s Historic House Hotels, where we stay for the next two nights.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11
Wednesday: Blenheim Palace

We head to Blenheim Palace, designed on an awe-inspiring scale by Vanbrugh and set in beautiful parkland landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. 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 and we learn more on our audio guided tour followed by a delicious afternoon tea.

Afterwards we return to the Hartwell House Hotel where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.

Meals: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea, Dinner

Day 12
Thursday: Departure

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

Meals: Breakfast

Please note: as this tour travels from the south to the north of England and back, some days will involve fairly long journeys. The order of excursions is subject to change and guided tours are subject to restrictions.

What’s Included
• Return airport transfers from London Heathrow*
• 2 nights at the Audleys Wood Hotel
• 1 night at the Chilston Park Hotel
• 2 nights at the Ickworth Hotel
• 3 nights at the Middlethorpe Hall Hotel
• 1 night at the Stapleford Park Country House Hotel
• 2 nights at the Hartwell House Hotel
• Welcome drink and canapés
• Full English/Continental breakfast each day
• 3-course table d’hôte dinner on 10 nights at the hotels (with after-dinner tea and coffee)
• 1 dinner at a local pub
• Services of a tour director throughout your stay
• Travel to and from all excursions
• All excursion costs
• Porterage

*supplement applies for transfers from all other airports

Special extras included in your itinerary
• Guided Palace House tour at Beaulieu
• Audio guided tour at Leeds Castle
• Exclusive out-of-hours Champagne guided tour of Hatfield House including Champagne greeting, a two-hour guide and complimentary guidebook
• Private guided tour of Holkham Hall led by Hall Steward with refreshments
• Guided tour of Doddington Hall and Gardens
• Guided tour of Chatsworth House
• Private guided tour of Castle Howard, with refreshments and guidebook
• Guided tour and lunch at Harewood House
• Guided tour of Burghley House
• Audio guided tour and afternoon tea at Blenheim Palace
• Themed evening talk by a guest speaker

Nights One and Two – Audleys Wood Hotel, Basingstoke
A grand Victorian manor house originally built as a private home, Audleys Wood Hotel is surrounded by lush woodlands and seven acres of private grounds on the edge of Basingstoke in the beautiful Hampshire countryside. The hotel has many period features and all bedrooms have been refurbished and offer a mixture of both modern and traditional features.

Night Three – Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham

Nights Four and Five – Ickworth Hotel, near Bury St Edmunds
Set in the East Wing of the National Trust’s historic Ickworth House, the Ickworth Hotel is a luxury country house hotel that enjoys some spectacular views across the grounds of the estate. Each room is uniquely decorated, while the hotel features a spa with an indoor swimming pool to relax in.

Nights Six to Eight - Middlethorpe Hall Hotel, near York
Built at the end of the 17th century, the Middlethorpe Hall Hotel is a beautiful red brick country house set in manicured gardens and parkland just two miles from York. One of the Historic House Hotels of the National Trust, the interiors of this luxury hotel are elegantly decorated and furnished with antiques and fine paintings. The health and fitness spa offers a swimming pool, sauna and gym.

Night Nine - Stapleford Park Country House Hotel, near Melton Mowbray

Night Ten and Eleven – Hartwell House Hotel, near Aylesbury
This Grade I listed, National Trust owned property is one of England’s finest stately homes and makes for a wonderful hotel and spa. Sitting within an Area of Natural Beauty; just on the edge of the Chilterns, it boasts almost 100 acres of gardens and parkland, landscaped by the famous ‘Capability’ Brown. Inside, the hotel offers individually designed bedrooms, complete with fine paintings, antiques and a superb ‘country house’ style of interiors. There is also a wonderful restaurant and relaxing spa.