This tour begins in London and ends in London.
We recommend spending independent time either pre or post tour to explore some of what this fabulous capital city has to offer! Those interested in antiques may want to head to the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill on Saturday. Certainly an experience! Alternatively, the easiest way to see the main icons and get orientated in London is the “Big Bus.” Hop off when you want then hop back on – a fun way to start your holiday.
Also possible, Henry VIII’s treasure Hampton Court Palace. The Great Hall is the palace’s largest and most impressive room featuring a collection of Flemish tapestries that date back over 500 years. The tapestries originally cost £2,000 in 1537, a cost equivalent of a modern-day battleship! Each took at least three years to be completed by master craftsmen who made cloths from wool and silk, interlaced with gold and silver thread. The restored tapestries were unveiled to the public in April, 2009 so a treat even for the return visitor. Spoilt for choice for what to see and do in the Capital!
LOGISTICAL NOTE: This itinerary is a ‘sampler’ tour visiting several regions of England so involves a bit more driving than the ‘solo region’ itineraries but is still a Small Group Touring Experience, the longer drives are broken up and balanced by ample ‘off the beaten track’ explorations.
Day 1, Sunday
This morning, depart our London meeting point at approximately 9am, our first port of call will be the 17th century town of Hungerford. This one street town boasts more antique shops than any other comparable sized town in the UK! There is a very interesting ‘mall’ (everything from old guns and swords to Victorian snuff boxes) plus a number of individual shops specializing in agricultural and garden statues.
We’ll make our way to Bath, the city of Georgian splendor and Roman antiquity. Your guide will be on hand for a walking tour of the city’s highlights. We will spend some time in the American Museum to see the collection of early American quilts. This is the finest collection of American quilts located outside the United States. There are also several Navajo rugs, early arts and craft items and woodworks to admire. During our time in Bath, you will have some free time to explore as you wish, choose the Roman Baths and Pump rooms, the Jane Austen Centre or just wander the tea and antique shops, the choice is yours.
ON Burford/Woodstock area, DBB
Day 2, Monday
Today sees us visiting Blenheim Palace. This incredible treasure house was given to Winston Churchill’s ancestor John, 1st Duke of Marlborough. The superb collection here includes fine paintings, furniture, bronzes and the famous Marlborough Victories tapestries. In addition to the palace itself, with its opulent splendor, you’ll also have some time to wander the amazing gardens, designed in part by Capability Brown.
We’ve the rest of our day to meander through the Cotswolds, the old market towns and scenic thatched roof villages famed in this region. Each is unique and pretty in its own right and there are opportunities for a stop in a tea shop or wandering the antique shops as we wish. With our small vehicle, we’ll get where larger coaches can’t and avoid the commercialized ‘honey-pots,’ discovering the best.
On our theme, we can include a visit to the Cotswold Woollen Weavers Mill, an 18th Century still working mill and museum. Here, you can smell the wool oil as you watch the looms turn fleece into fabric. We may also choose a shopping stop in the Burford Needlecraft Centre. Spoilt for choice!
ON Burford/Woodstock area, as above, DBB
Day 3, Tuesday
We will visit Stratford-Upon-Avon seeing the local church, burial place for the Bard, as well as his iconic Birthplace, which features several original and re-created Tudor era furnishings and textiles. The “Birth Room” displays walls dressed with traditional 16th-century wall-cloths and green and red textiles.
Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of another famous leader, George Washington, is also included in our day’s focus. This Tudor manor house features an “astounding collection of textiles” including the New Elizabethan Embroideries, embroidered fire screens, items of costume and furnishings from 17th – 21stCentury. The collection illustrates a variety of textile art techniques including sampler making, canvas work, stumpwork, quilting, weaving and surface embroidery.
ON Matlock area, DBB
Day 4, Wednesday
We have a full day to explore in and around the Peak District. This region was part of England’s textile industry; there are an abundance of lovely spa and mining towns in addition to mills, potteries and stately homes on offer. Along our route, we’ve the chance to meander around some of the lovely local villages and countryside.
During our day, enjoy time in the town of Macclesfield, famous in Great Britain for silk and home to theSilk Museum collections, which include a large variety of textiles from local manufacturers. Here discover what life was like for the workers in a Victorian era mill, silk weaving techniques on historic machinery plus the history of silk production, “from cocoon to catwalk.”
Nearby is Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of ‘china clay country’ and names such as Wedgwood, Royal Dalton and Royal Worcester can be found in The Potteries. We will have a visit to a factory shop, seeing demonstrations of the potters’ craft and have the option to search local antique outlets for remainder and historic pieces.
ON Matlock area, as above, DBB
Day 5, Thursday
Some further time in the Peak District offers the opportunity for even more lovely attractions. We’ll see the World Heritage Site of the Arkwright Mill Museum. Sir Richard Arkwright is known to many as the “world’s first industrialist”, having developed the factory system that turned Britain into a cotton manufacturing capital. Sir Arkwright is also credited for inventing the first water powered cotton mill.
Our day is certain to include time in the Duke of Devonshire stately home of Chatsworth. This really is a treasure house, real life home to “The Duchess” Georgina, said to be Jane Austen’s inspiration for “Pemberley’ and, on our theme, porcelain collectors will particularly enjoy the Duke’s own magnificent private collection.
Later, we will make our way north to the historic city of York, our night stop location.
ON York, DBB
Day 6, Friday (ND)
York is a fabulous walled city that has much to offer its visitors, such as the splendid Minster, the city centre castle, the Roman museum, the National Railway museum, the Jorvik Viking centre, the medieval shopping ‘Shambles’ and you’ll time this afternoon to explore as you please. Your guide will be on hand for advice, assistance and a walking tour of the city.
An undoubted highlight of our time in York will be the Quilt Museum in St Anthony’s Guildhall, operated by the Quilters Guild of the British Isles. There is a wide array of styles and ages of quilts, from hand stitched, century old classics to contemporary machine works of art. Historic highlights of the museum include a silk coverlet from 1718, noted as one of the earliest known patchwork pieces and regarded by many as the Guild’s ‘star item.’
Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.
ON York, BB
Day 7, Saturday
Departing York, we will make our way south via “Robin Hood Country” to the unspoilt Georgian town ofStamford, often used by film makers as a perfect location for period dramas, and the Tudor masterpiece Burghley House.
Built by Queen Elizabeth’s Lord High Treasurer, Sir William Cecil, Burghley House remains as one of the largest and grandest buildings from the Elizabethan Age. This gem is still a family home for his descendants to this day, with eighteen state rooms currently opened to the public. Inside is one of the finest assemblies of 17th century Italian masterpieces, an exceptional collection of Oriental and European ceramics, textiles, porcelain, art and furniture.
ON Huntington/St Ives area DBB
Day 8, Sunday
The finale for our quilters is set near the pretty riverside village of St Ives, Hemingford Grey Manor where we’ll enjoy a private viewing of Lucy Boston’s quilts. The house was made famous as ‘The House of Green Knowe’ by Lucy Boston in her classic series of children’s books.
Lucy Boston made many exquisite patchworks, most of which are on display. Rarely can such an important collection be seen in the house in which the exhibits were made. The upstairs hall here is a room full of atmosphere and the echoes of nearly nine centuries of family conversations. It was used by Lucy Boston during World War II to give gramophone record recitals twice a week to the RAF. The 1929 EMG gramophone is still in use in this room, lending great character to our visit.
Later, we’ll stop in the university city of Cambridge. In this sleepy, easily-walked medieval city, we’ll see one of the colleges and possibly students punt on the backs of the River Cam. There’s the excellent Fitzwilliam Museum and great shopping available too, as time and interest will permit.
Our tour concludes in London early evening. Accommodation is separate, available for a supplemental fee.