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Classic Literary England

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12 days/11 nights beginning London and finishing Manchester

from the SGT ‘Classic Route’ Collection

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“...The very well-planned and wide-ranging itinerary and size of the tour group [small] resulted in both content and pace...outstanding, incorporating literature, history, culture, place, and natural environments, and the variety of accommodations could not have been better. The SGT tour guide...was extremely helpful with and thoughtful about all of the travel details, knowledgeable, good humored...The downside to my experience? I have nothing to add! I can think of nothing that would have made for a better experience … well, a bit of rain and fog on the Yorkshire Moors would have been a nice touch!"

Ann, Classic Literary England tour
Overviewicon Itineraryicon

Starts London, UK and finishes in Manchester, UK.

 

TENTATIVE ITINERARY

Day 1

Monday

 

Kent

 

We depart our Central London meeting point at approximately 09:00 and travel via the old coaching route, tracing the path of Chaucer’s Pilgrims. This was an area of London also well known to Shakespeare and Dickens.

Our first stop is Charles Dickens’ Rochester. This gem of a city, with its cathedral and Norman castle, overflows with Dickens’s sites, places mentioned in his books such as ‘Miss Havisham’s house’ and Dickens himself lived here for a time.

 

Spend some quality time in Chaucer’s mediaeval city of Canterbury. Meander the charming high street, filled with charming shops and cafes, and of course pay respects inside of the historic cathedral.

 

NIGHTSTOP: KENT, Canterbury area

PROPERTY: Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, The Falstaff or similar, https://www.canterburycathedrallodge.org/ http://www.thefalstaffincanterbury.com/

Day 2

Tuesday

 

Kent

 

Visit Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson’s world famous garden of Sissinghurst. Here, we’ll find a Tudor tower complete with Vita’s writing workshop, a walled herb garden, mixed border gardens, an oast house museum, a white garden and a cottage garden. Writer and friend to the ‘Bloomsbury Group,’ Vita’s home usually has Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s printing press on display.

 

Another home and garden is Rudyard Kipling’s home of Bateman’s. The rooms, described by him as ‘untouched and unfaked’, remain much as he left them, with oriental rugs and artefacts reflecting his strong association with the East.

 

Spoilt for choice should we manage additional touring time today, Kent is steeped in literary heritage! In consultation with your guide, explore based on the particular interests of the individuals aboard as time permits.

 

NIGHTSTOP: KENT, Canterbury area, same property as above

Day 3

Wednesday

 

Hampshire

 

A full day today as we make our way west to “Jane Austen Country” the county of Hampshire. It was in the quaint village of Chawton that Jane Austen spent the majority of her later years, where she completed most of her most famous works, Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice amongst others. Once inside her cottage, we are in her world.

 

Winchester is a place well known to several authors – this is Thomas Hardy’s ‘Wintoncester’ and the final resting place for Jane Austen in Winchester Cathedral. A walking tour of this original Saxon capital of England will introduce you to the general sights, including England’s oldest public schools.

 

NIGHTSTOP: HAMPSHIRE: Winchester/Southampton area

PROPERTY: Chilworth Manor, Swan Alton or similar, http://www.bw-chilworthmanor.co.uk/ https://www.oldenglishinns.co.uk/our-locations/the-swan-alton

Day 4

Thursday

 

Salisbury, Bath

 

A day simply filled with classical British places! Salisbury is one port of call, where we can pay our respects inside the stunning gothic cathedral and see one of the greatest pieces of writing, the Magna Carta.

 

Bath, the city of Georgian splendor and Roman antiquity, is our base for tonight. Upon arrival, your guide will be on hand for an orientation walking tour of the highlights. This place was enjoyed by the social set of the 18th and 19th centuries, a setting for many writers; Jane Austen fans will immediately recognize several streets and squares from her novels such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. You can also see places where the author herself lived. The remains of the day is open so you can explore Bath as you please. We highly recommend time in the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms, the Jane Austen Centre or you could simply wander the lovely tea rooms and antique shops – the choice is yours!

 

NIGHTSTOP: Bath

PROPERTY: The Kennard, Edgar Townhouse or similar, http://www.kennard.co.uk/ https://www.edgar-townhouse.co.uk/

Day 5

Friday

 

Lacock, Gloucester

 

Our first destination is the medieval village of Lacock, which has hardly changed in the past 200 years. With its magnificent abbey, half timbered cottages and greystone houses, it provides a perfect setting. This lovely place, where TV ariels, telephone wires and advertising are banned, has been used as a film set for many popular films such as the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle production of Pride and Prejudice, the BBC series of Cranford and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

 

The lovely, historic city of Gloucester has many wonderful literary connections. Gloucester Cathedral and the King’s School have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity since each was used as locations for ‘Hogwarts.’ Gloucester also features as a setting for Beatrix Potter and Humpty Dumpty can claim his origins here.

 

Evenings in Stratford-Upon-Avon provide the opportunity, dependent upon schedules, to attend the theatre at the RSC. There’s a wonderful viewing tower and highly rated restaurant so worth a visit even if not attending a performance! See what’s on at the RSC: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/

  

NIGHTSTOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon

PROPERTY: Swan’s Nest or similar http://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-swan’s-nest-hotel/

Day 6

Saturday

 

Downton Abbey Cotswolds villages, Oxford

 

Our route will take us via a few of the quaint, thatch-roofed Cotswolds villages known in this region. Several places have literary and film connections, JM Barrie, Jane Austen, Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise to Candleford and Tolkien’s The Hobbit to name a few. We will explore two places that may be recognizable to Downton Abbey fans, Bampton, where many outdoor scenes are filmed, and Swinbrook, home to a wonderful pub with connections to the famed Mitford sisters, location in Downton for the elopement of Lady Sybil & Branson.

 

Spend time in the ‘city of the dreaming spires’ Oxford. This is the jewel in the literary crown. The Dean of Mathematics at Christchurch College was one Charles Dodgson, better known as ‘Lewis Carroll’ and one finds ‘Alice’ everywhere here. See the ancient pub in the town centre where the Inklings (CS Lewis, Tolkien…) met to talk and drink. And, of course, contemporary literature is represented by Colin Dexter’s detective ‘Morse’ and there is Harry’s ‘Hogwarts’ to discover too. A walking tour of the city will introduce you to these highlights and to many others.

 

NIGHTSTOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon, same property as above

Day 7 ND

Sunday

 

Stratford-Upon-Avon

 

Our whole day will be spent in Stratford-Upon-Avon itself, so you have ample time to discover the charming town and Shakespeare connections. You’re spoilt for choice here – visit the local church, burial place for the Bard, his mother Mary Arden’s home with its bird of prey centre as well as the well known iconic sites such as his Birthplace. You will have free time to wander the cobbled streets, shopping and relaxing as you wish. Perhaps catch a matinee at the RSC. Your guide will be on hand for a possible walking tour, advice and assistance but the day is yours to spend as you decide.

 

NIGHTSTOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon, same property as above

Day 8

Monday

 

Lyme Park, Midlands

 

Continuing our way north, a rare bit of motorway driving will speed our way. We will be passing through areas of inspiration for popular works of fiction, the heart of industrial England and the landscape of the harsh life in the textile mills. From this world came parts of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Martin Cruz’s Rose and George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, vivid portraits of the past.

 

In the scenic Peak District, visit Lyme Park, used by the BBC for the hugely popular Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. Fans may recognize the lake as well as the house itself. Here, we’ll find the Palladian mansion surrounded by a medieval deer park of almost 1400 acres, an amazing formal garden and lavish interiors.

 

This afternoon, if we’ve fans on board, we may choose to get inside another novel setting, the Cheshire town of Knutsford, perhaps better known as Elizabeth Gaskell’s “dear adopted, native town” of Cranford. Later, arrive in the Lake District, the place where many authors chose as their home including William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin.

 

NIGHTSTOP: LAKE DISTRICT, Windermere area

PROPERTY: WIllowsmere or similar http://www.thewillowsmere.com/

Day 9

Tuesday

 

Lake District

 

Today we have a full day discovering and sharing the vistas that so inspired the literary tradition in the Lake District. We simply have to use the cliché ‘breathtaking’ to describe the spectacular scenery you’ll be seeing as it is so very appropriate. We’ll visit one of Wordsworth’s homes, Dove Cottage. There’s the town of Grasmere, where, in addition to literary connections, we can sample the famous gingerbread, and the exquisite Coniston Water. We can wander a garden or two in search of Beatrix Potter’s ‘Peter Rabbit’ and take a lovely boat ride. In keeping with our literary theme, did you know that the graphite for pencils uniquely comes from the Lakeland?

 

NIGHTSTOP: LAKE DISTRICT, Windermere area, same property as above

Day 10

Wednesday

 

‘James Herriot Country’ Yorkshire Dales 

 

This morning, we have some time to perhaps ‘potter’ a bit more around in the Lakes, then we’ll take a beautifully scenic route through the charming Yorkshire Dales National Park, the focus of the day. This is the area that so inspired local vet Alf Wight, better known as "James Herriot", to pen the All Creatures Great and Small books. Certainly something to read prior to the tour! This lovely scenery was also recently featured in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We can call into the old market town of Thirsk and Richmond, called one of the nicest towns in England, situated in the heart of the dales at Swaledale. Its castle dominates the town and the steep streets are around the pretty cobbled market square. Another day where we are simply spoilt for choice!

 

Our base for the next few nights is the historic city of York, filled with the heritage of the past – including Romans, Viking and King Richard III.

 

NIGHTSTOP: YORKSHIRE, York

PROPERTY: The Churchill, Grange or similar http://www.churchillhotel.com/ http://www.grangehotel.co.uk/

 

Day 11

Thursday

 

Yorkshire Moors, ‘Harry Potter’ steam train, Whitby

 

Today, we head westward across the sometimes heather-covered North Yorkshire Moors. We’ve the opportunity to board a steam train (subject to schedules) at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, surely a treat to relive the nostalgia of the steam age. Harry Potter fans may find the station somewhat familiar – yes this is ‘Hogsmeade!’

 

Enjoy some time in the lovely town of Whitby. A wonderful place to sample the freshest of fish & chips, this was the home of ‘Captain Cook’ and legend has it that Bram Stoker created ‘Dracula’ here. Explore the local heritage that this seaside town has to offer.

 

NIGHTSTOP: YORKSHIRE, York, same property as above

Day 12

Friday

 

York, ‘Bronte Country’ Haworth

 

This morning, we have more time to explore the walled city of York, to meander the splendid Minster and the medieval shopping ‘Shambles’ as guests choose. Seeking a literary connection, York is the home town of poet WH Auden, Behind the Scenes at the Museum author Kate Atkinson and has been the inspiration for many including Dickens and Dafoe.

 

Later today, the lovely village Haworth. Imagine the everyday lives of the Bronte sisters, walking around Haworth Church, their home now the Bronte Parsonage Museum and the village itself. The dramatic Yorkshire Moors here inspired the sisters to pen their novels that are some of the classics of English literature. We will have the worlds of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights leaping from the page!

Tour finishes by approximately 18:00, dropping off in Manchester. Accommodation in Manchester is separate from the main tour package. SGT is happy to assist you with arrangements as you wish.

 

 

Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.

 

Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.

PRE and/or POST tour OPTIONS

Our SGT Classic Literary England sampler tour begins in London, UK and finishes in Manchester, UK.

There is much to see and do in each city so please discuss options with us if you want to extend your stay and explore independently pre-tour and/or post-tour.

 

We recommend that you spent time in Manchester as this charming city has much to discover! The rich heritage featuring a fine cathedral and historic Rylands Library. Explore the activities of the rejuvenated docklands area, now full of theatres, music venues, sports centres and museums including the Imperial War Museum North. For any football/soccer fans on board, perhaps a tour of Manchester United’s stadium Old Trafford will be top of your list?

 

Everyone LOVES London so why not spend some quality time?! You can explore the capital at your leisure and see some of the city’s iconic sites or perhaps go on your very own ‘Literary London’ tour. You can choose to do it yourself or we can assist you with a custom day or multi-day tour extension. London accommodation, airport transfers, London city tours, London attraction passes and London transport passes are separate from our tour but can be added to your overall package as you wish.

 

Jane Austen never lived in London but there are a few places of interest here for fans; she did visit her brother Henry at his London homes of 10 Henrietta Street and 23 Hans Place. Her cousin Eliza de Feuillide, often regarded as the model for the character ‘Mary Crawford’ in Mansfield Park, is buried in St John’s Hampstead. We recommend paying respects at Jane’s memorial plaque in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey and a visit to the British Library to see her manuscripts. Another choice is the National Portrait Gallery, where among the many painting and photographs of famous Britons, you can see the sketch done by her sister Cassandra. This is the only undisputed portrait of Jane Austen.

 

There are London’s literary museums and houses to be seen, properties connected with Keats, Dickens, Carlyle and Dr Johnson. Possibly you’d prefer to just take a stroll through the areas rich in literary history, the neighborhoods of Bankside, an area well known to Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens or the Bloomsbury of Virginia Woolf, TS Elliot and Lytton Stratchey among others.

 

Prefer the iconic sites? Go around on the hop-on/hop-off bus, the best introduction to the city. Hop off when you want then hop back on. SGT highly recommends a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral. Their included multi-media personal Ipod Touch tour guide brings hundreds of years of British history to life – literary at your fingertips! Avoid the queues/lines and pre-book your tickets via us. We can also assist you with pre-booking The Tower of London tickets too.

 

For your evenings, we recommend London’s fantastic theatres – West End, Shakespeare’s Globe or one of the modern ‘off West End’ gems like the Royal Court or the Donmar Warehouse. Spoilt for choice in Literary London!

 

Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.

Inclusionsicon

What Your Tour Package Includes:

Your accommodation for 11 nights while on the tour including breakfast daily, entrance fees to listed attractions, transportation, services of driver/guide-companion and all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide.

 

Dinners, beverages and any items of a personal nature are not included in the package price.

 

Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, London city tours, London attraction passes and London transport passes are not included but can be added to your package for the appropriate supplemental cost. Pleasesk us for details.

Mapicon Why SGT?icon

The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.

 

The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!

 

At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!