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 “hop-on/hop-off” 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!
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’ with everything from old guns and swords to Victorian snuff boxes.
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 see the American Museum’s American Quilts Collection, the finest collection of American quilts outside the US. There are also several Navajo rugs, early arts and craft items and woodworks to admire.
Our overnight location for these two nights is in a traditional property in a southern Cotswolds village.
ON Burford/Woodstock area, DBB
Day 2, Monday
Today visit 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.
Another iconic place is Stratford-Upon-Avon. See the local church where the Bard rests and 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.
We’ve the remainder the day to meander through the Cotswolds, the old market towns and scenic thatched roof villages famed in this region. On our theme, we may choose to visit the Cotswold Woollen Weavers Mill, an 18th Century still working mill and museum or a shopping stop at nearby Burford Needlecraft Centre. Spoilt for choice!
ON Burford/Woodstock area, as above, DBB
Day 3, Tuesday
Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of another famous leader, George Washington, is a main visit today, by special appointment. 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 – 21st Century. The collection illustrates a variety of textile art techniques including sampler making, canvas work, stumpwork, quilting, weaving and surface embroidery.
Stoke-on-Trent is the heart of ‘china clay country’ and names such as Wedgwood, Royal Dalton and Royal Worcester can be found in The Potteries. During our time here, we’ll 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 Stoke-on-Trent area, DBB
Day 4, Wednesday
The Peak District is a beautiful region, where dry-stone walls make criss-cross patterns of the sheep covered hills, an area steeped in the heritage of England’s textile industry. There are an abundance of lovely spa and mining towns in addition to mills and stately homes on offer. Along our route, we’ve the chance to meander around some of the lovely local villages and countryside.
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. Dinner is not included for flexibility’s sake.
ON York, BB
Day 5, Thursday (ND)
Today we have the full day to explore York as you please, the day is YOUR choice! Your guide will be on hand for advice, assistance and an optional walking tour of the city. 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 many lovely cafes and pubs.
An undoubted highlight for quilters 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 6, Friday
Departing York, we make our way south to the historical city of Lincoln. Its magnificent cathedral was used as a film setting for the Da Vinci Code film but, more importantly, an original of the Magna Carta, one of the four surviving originals sealed by King John in 1215, can be seen in Lincoln Castle.
The unspoilt Georgian town of Stamford is often used by film makers as a perfect location for period dramas, so worth some of our time this afternoon.
Nearby is another wonderful stately home for us to admire! 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 Huntingdon/St Ives area DBB
Day 7, Saturday
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 by special arrangement. The house was made famous as The House of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston in her classic series of children’s books. Perhaps something to read prior to the tour!? We also recommend the recent film based on Lucy’s books, From Time to Time; adapted by Dowton Abbey’s Julien Fellowes and featuring Maggie Smith.
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 usually still in this room for us to admire.
Later today, explore 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, arriving by 18:00. Accommodation is separate tonight, available for a supplemental fee.
Why not extend your stay in London? In addition to all of the city’s iconic sites and well known museums & gardens, on our theme you may choose to visit the Museum of Fashion and Textiles or The Museum of London, telling the tales of the capital from Roman times through today. Collections include textiles, fashion and dress as a social historical record. There is also the option to meander through some of the city’s many antique shops. Your guide will be able to recommend the best choices to you!
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 unforeseen changes in opening days or times.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This itinerary is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.