THE BOOKWORM: A LITERARY DISCOVERY OF ENGLAND & WALES
Kent-Heart of England-Southwest Wales
8 touring days, Sunday to Sunday
This tour is an exploration into 3 regions of the UK, through some of the prettiest landscapes, visiting author's homes, literary museums, towns and villages where stories are set and places that obviously inspired the artist's muse. We’ll visit some of the iconic sites associated with writes such as Dickens, Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll plus a few Harry Potter film sites for fun, but our literary theme is something of an excuse to see beautiful places not often discovered by the casual tourist.
We hope that by the end of the tour, you'll not only have had your favourite stories leap off the page, understanding their authors and backgrounds better, but also have been introduced to a few new writers who might have escaped your attention. This highlight tour is a novel way to sample some of the best regions of England and Wales!
Links with The Lake District, land of Wordsworth & Beatrix Potter
Tour Dates: 2 - 9 September, 2012
Tour Rates: $2899 USD per person; $3499 USD single rate
What your tour price includes: Your accommodation for 7 nights while on the tour including both full breakfasts and 5 dinners. Your price also includes 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.
DAY ONE - Sunday
We depart London 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, such as plaques on the places mentioned in his books, ‘Mrs Haversham's house’ and Dickens himself lived here.
Kipling’s home of Batemans is our next port of call. Here, much of the house and grounds, with its tranquil riverside setting and pretty gardens, is as the author left it, including his study. The interiors reflect Kipling’s love of the East.
Our night stop location for these two nights is in a lovely Kentish village.
NIGHTSTOP: Sevenoaks, Cranbrook or Tunbridge Wells, Kent
DAY TWO - Monday
Today we’ll explore Chaucer’s mediaeval city of Canterbury. Spending ample time here, you can meander the charming high street and of course pay our respects inside of the Cathedral.
This afternoon is open for participant input. Choose to visit ‘Bleak House’ setting in Broadstairs, AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh setting in Ashdown Forest, Henry James’s quaint port town of Rye, some sites of Arthur Conan Doyle and his timeless creation 'Sherlock Holmes' or a home of writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West. Spoilt for choice!
NIGHTSTOP: Kent, as above
DAY THREE - Tuesday
Our first destination today is Shaw's ‘Corner’ in Hertfordshire’s Ayot St Lawrence. This is an Edwardian Arts & Crafts influenced house, home to George Bernard Shaw for over 40 years. See the great dramatist's revolving writing hut featuring many literary and personal effects, including his Oscar and Nobel Prize.
We will make our way through Oxfordshire, the setting for Flora Thompson’s novels about local country life in her Lark Rise to Candleford series. If there’s an interest, we can visit the Buckingham Old Gaol Museum, which tells the story of the town and local rural life including a Flora Thompson home collection. Traveling via the Banbury Cross, we will arrive into our nightstop location for the next few nights, the hometown of The Bard.
DAY FOUR - Wednesday (ND)
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. Your guide will be on hand for a walking tour, advice and assistance but the day is yours to spend as you decide.
Dinner is not included tonight to allow for flexibility in attending the theatre at the RSC if you wish. Performances are very popular, tickets subject to availability, so early booking is highly recommended. SGT is happy to assist with tickets.
The RSC celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2011 and has recently opened their newly renovated theatre space, restaurant and viewing tower offering stunning views over Stratford’s landscape. Surely worth a visit even if not attending a performance!
NIGHTSTOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon, as above
DAY FIVE - Thursday
Oxford is on our agenda today. With your guide, a walking tour of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘Harry Potter’ sites and time to see where the ‘Inklings’ met (Lewis, Tolkien, Auden...) Of course, this is also the city of Colin Dexter’s ‘Inspector Morse’ and the dreaming spires of the famed colleges so there’s much to discover!
The rest of our day will be spent meandering through the honey-thatch cottage Cotwolds villages famous in this region. Each is unique and pretty in its own right and there are many opportunities for a stop in a teashop or wandering the antique shops. With our small vehicle, we can get where larger coaches can't and avoid the commercialized 'honey-pots' to discover the best of local treasures. Seeking a literary thread, there are a few quaint villages where we can discover their literary connections. Certainly off the beaten track!
Dinner is not included tonight to allow for flexibility in attending the theatre at the RSC.
NIGHTSTOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon, as above
DAY SIX - Friday
We depart to the charming medieval Ludlow, where we’ll concentrate on the poet A E Houseman. We will then travel via beautiful borders scenery in this relatively ‘undiscovered’ region, our destination being Hay-on-Wye, the world’s largest used book centre where even the castle dungeon is lined with books! Our overnight will be in or near the market town of Brecon on the edge of the magical Brecon Beacons National Park.
NIGHTSTOP: Brecon area, Wales
DAY SEVEN - Saturday
Our day will be spent following the Dylan Thomas Trail. Our journey affords us the opportunity of touring one of the UK’s nicest areas, the Gower Coast and the opportunity of introducing you to some Welsh literature, the great Celtic tradition that gave birth to the Arthurian legends. Our highlight is sure to be the village of Laugharne, Dylan Thomas’ village and the inspiration for Under Milk Wood. We’ll see his famed boathouse writing studio, home and grave.
NIGHTSTOP: Vale of Glamorgan area, South Wales
DAY EIGHT – Sunday
This morning we will make our way through the area that inspired Bruce Chatwin’s novel On the Black Hill and the area where Harry Potter author JK Rowling grew up to visit the setting for one of Wordsworth’s loveliest poems at Tintern Abbey.
Crossing the border back into England, we’ll visit Gloucester. This charming, historic city has many wonderful literary connections. In addition to visiting the Gloucester Cathedral and the King's School, both of which were used as locations for ‘Hogwarts’ in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone film, we can also discuss Beatrix Potter and learn why Humpty Dumpty can claim his origins here.
En-route back to London, we will try to make time for a stop in the pretty riverside town of Marlow, where Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein and where T S Elliot lived for some years. We will arrive back into London early evening.
Add London to your package: London accommodation, airport transfers, London city tours, London attraction passes and London transport passes are separate from our short tour but can be added to your overall package as you wish. Ask us for full details.
London offers heaps of options for visitors! We recommend beginning your Jane Austen literary adventure with a visit to the British Library where you can see Jane’s manuscripts. Another choice is the National Portrait Gallery, where among the many painting and photographs of famous Britons, you can see the sketch of Jane Austen done by her sister Cassandra. This is the only undisputed portrait of the author.
Perhaps you will choose to go around on the “Big Bus”, the best introduction to the iconic sites of the Capitol. Hop off when you want then hop back on - a fun way to start your holiday. SGT highly recommends a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral during your time in London. Their new 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. This evening, perhaps go to a show at one of London’s fantastic theatres such as Shakespeare’s Globe? Spoilt for choice in the Capitol!
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 that we could not have been aware of at the time of loading this tour to our website.