THIS IS A SUGGESTED TOUR ITINERARY AND CAN BE MODIFIED TO SPECIFICALLY SUIT YOU.
Day 1 Sunday
We depart our London meeting point at approximately 09:00, our destination being Hampshire, ‘Jane Austen Country.’ We will travel to our first village of interest, Steventon, where Jane Austen spent her first 25 years. We will explore the small parish church where her father was a clergyman including the churchyard where her brother and his family lie. This quiet, peaceful place is like stepping back in time.
The Tudor manor house The Vyne, visited by King Henry VIII on at least 3 occasions, is also on the day’s agenda. The house is filled with an eclectic mix of fine furniture, portraits, textiles and sculpture. The attractive gardens feature an ornamental lake, woodlands and flourishing wetlands, a haven for wildlife and water fowl. This was the home of the Chute family, friends of the Austens, and Jane and her sister often visited for dances and to play cards. The dances held here would have been intimate affairs, ones of great contrast to the lavish balls Jane would later attend in Bath. We can see the portrait of the Chute’s adoptive daughter Caroline, said to be the inspiration for Fanny Price of Mansfield Park.
Next, Jane’s home at Chawton, now open as a museum. It was in this quaint village that she spent the majority of her later years and where she wrote or completed most of her most famous works, Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice amongst others. Once inside the house, we are in her world. We’ll also enjoy the village itself and the cottage gardens that Jane and her sister lovingly tended.
NIGHTSTOP: Hampshire. PROPERTY: Chilworth Manor, Swan Alton or similar, http://www.bw-chilworthmanor.co.uk/ https://www.oldenglishinns.co.uk/our-locations/the-swan-alton
Day 2 Monday
Today we’ll explore the ancient Saxon capital of Winchester. Our time here will include a guided walk around the city, seeing the cathedral where Jane Austen is buried, one of England’s most famous public schools and the place Jane last called home, where she passed away in 1817.
We’ll also enjoy touring around the seaport of Southampton, where Jane Austen lived for 2 years following the death of her father. We’ll explore the ancient city walls, said to be a favorite walking spot for Jane, and a few local landmarks well known to her. It is thought that the Portsmouth scenes in Mansfield Park are modeled after her experience of local life in Southampton. Nearby, as time permits, we’ll visit a place or two enjoyed by Jane and her family as short getaways from the city – such as the abbey that inspired Northanger Abbey.
NIGHT STOP: Hampshire, as above
Day 3 Tuesday
During our day, we’ll visit in iconic Salisbury. Here we can pay our respects inside the stunning gothic cathedral and see one of the greatest pieces of writing, the Magna Carta.
Wilton House is a great choice on our theme and truly one of the country’s treasure houses. Here, experience nearly 500 years of history as you wander through its magnificent rooms, marvel at its architecture, soak in its fine paintings and spectacular gardens. Wilton House is often used as a location for period films thanks to its sumptuous interiors. Fans may recognize some rooms as “Pemberley” from the 2005 Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice. The ‘double cube room’ is particularly popular, also appearing in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lydon, Madness of King George, Judi Dench favorite Mrs Brown and most recently in Young Victoria.
This afternoon, we will make our way to Bath, the city of Georgian splendor and Roman antiquity. Upon arrival, your guide will be on hand for an orientation walking tour of Jane Austen’s city. This place was enjoyed by the social set of the 18th and 19th centuries, a setting for Jane Austen amongst many other writers; 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. During our stay, you’ll have free time 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!
Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.
NIGHT STOP: Bath. PROPERTY: The Kennard or similar, http://www.kennard.co.uk/
Day 4 Wednesday
A big day spent in lovely countryside today, far from the madding crowd. Our journey will take us through areas well known to Thomas Hardy. The counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorsetshire are ones where time literally seems to have stood still since the days of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy.
Lyme Regis is sure to be one highlight, a popular sea spa town and the site of many Austen family holidays. The town looks much as it did when Jane spent time here, and sites from Persuasion are recognizable.
Also today, Stourhead Gardens, featuring one of the world’s finest 18th Century landscape gardens including a magnificent lake, classical temples, enchanting grottos plus rare and exotic trees. The Temple of Apollo here was featured in a memorable scene between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and should be recognizable to fans.
NIGHT STOP: Bath, as above
Day 5 Thursday
Full day to explore Bath as you please. We highly recommend time in the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms, the Jane Austen Centre and perhaps the American Museum with its amazing display of quilts. You could simply wander the lovely tea rooms and antique shops – the choice is yours!
Dinner in not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.
NIGHT STOP: Bath, as above
Day 6 Friday
This morning depart from Bath for 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.
Abbey House Gardens is our next destination. Owned by the “naked gardeners,” this 16th Century Abbey House boasts an unusually large 5 acre town centre garden, nestled beside the historic Abbey in the lovely village of Malmesbury. Famed gardener Alan Titchmarsh said about Abbey House, “The Wow Factor is here in abundance!”
NIGHT STOP: Cotswolds
Day 7 Saturday
Our day first sees us visiting Blenheim Palace. This incredible treasure house, set near Oxford on the edge of the Cotswolds, 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 all of the opulent splendor, you’ll have ample time to wander the amazing gardens, designed in part by ‘Capability’ Brown. A trip to Blenheim Palace would certainly not be complete without visiting the Water Terraces, Rose Garden, Arboretum, Cascades or the Secret Garden.
The rest of our day will be spent meandering through the honey-thatch cottage Cotswolds villages famous in this region. Each is unique and pretty in its own right and there are many opportunities for a stop in a tea-shop or wandering the antique shops as we wish. 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. There are a wide range of Cotswolds gardens too and we may call into one if time permits. Spoilt for choice!
NIGHT STOP: Cotswolds
Day 8 Sunday
Today sees us visiting the Bard’s hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon to discover the charming town and Shakespeare connections. Our visit can include time in the local church, burial place for the Bard, and the iconic Birthplace.
For 400 years, Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire was the country seat of Jane Austen’s relatives, the Leighs. In 1806, Jane visited her cousin Reverend Thomas Leigh on the estate and was so inspired by Stoneleigh that she wove descriptions of the interiors, views of the grounds and cameos of the family into her novels. Stoneleigh Abbey has changed little since 1806, the rooms and much of the furniture are still as Jane Austen would have known them. The park and gardens at Stoneleigh reveal a long history of landscaping undertaken over four centuries at the behest of the Leigh family. There has been a settlement with gardens here from as early as 1154!
Later, a rare bit of motorway driving will bring us to the Peak District. Jane Austen stayed in the area for 5 weeks in 1806 at the home of another cousin, Edward Cooper. Perhaps we will choose to route via Lichfield, a bustling market town with some lovely Tudor buildings visited by Jane for touring and shopping. Alternatively we might choose to route via Leicester Cathedral, for a brief stop to pay our respects to King Richard III, the man famously maligned in Shakespeare’s play. Skeletal remains of ‘someone’ with scoliosis and an arrow in the back, those matching reports of Richard’s death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, were found in a Leicester car park in Sep, 2012. Scratch the surface and England just ‘bleeds’ history!
NIGHT STOP: Matlock/Bakewell area, Peak District Rutland Arms or similar http://www.rutlandarmsbakewell.co.uk/
Day 9 Monday
We have a full day to enjoy the Peak District and the magnificent Pennine Hills scenery. Here, where the dry-stone walls make criss-cross patterns of the sheep covered hills, we may find ancient folk customs such as ‘well-dressing’ as we wander the rural Derbyshire villages such as favorite film location towns Bakewell and Longnor. Another possibility is Ashbourne, a town with connections to both Dr Johnson, author of the very first dictionary, and George Eliot, who described the church as “the finest mere parish church in the entire kingdom.” It is located nearby the lovely River Dove, a favorite spot for Wordsworth.
There are a few stately homes and treasure houses in this area which may seem familiar for fans of period films. These estates are often used as sets, most famously recent productions of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and The Duchess among others. We will visit as many as time will permit over our few days in the area.
A sure inclusion is a visit to the Duke of Devonshire’s stately home at Chatsworth, the real life home of Georgina, The Duchess of Devonshire and said to have been the inspiration for Jane Austen as her ‘Pemberley.’ It was here that most of the exterior sequences for Pemberley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice were filmed as well as a few interiors including the sculpture gallery.
NIGHT STOP: Peaks, as above
Day 10 Tuesday
Another full day in the Peak District permits us the opportunity to explore even more stunning places. There’s the town of Hathersage, known as “Morton” in Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre. The town itself is an attractive, prosperous gritstone village of charm and character, perched rather picturesquely on a hillside. This whole area is well known to film crews, capturing real places of inspiration for classic literature. Nearby there’s the soaring Stanage Edge, a famous scene from the Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice and connections to Little John from the Robin Hood legends.
The grand finale of our day is sure to be a visit to 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.
NIGHT STOP: Manchester
Day 11 Wednesday
We depart our Manchester meeting point at approximately 9am. A rare bit of motorway driving will speed us away from the city centre and into the countryside, our destination is the area known as Bronte Country!
The Spen Valley offers several literary points of interest. Oakwell Hall is a place visited by Charlotte Bronte, an inspiration for her novel Shirley. Oakwell is an Elizabethan manor home decorated as it would have looked in the 1690s, the furnishings provide an insight into a post English Civil War house.
We will also visit Red House, which remains much as it was in the 1830s when Charlotte Bronte frequently visited. Enjoy the elegant parlor, flag stoned kitchen full of period cookery and the dining room stained glass window, as described in Charlotte’s novel Shirley.
Next, 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 moorland 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!
Our overnight location is the charming town of Ripon, a place worth some time during our stay over the next few days. You can see the captivating 7th Century cathedral and the town itself is a meandering of medieval streets dotted with tea rooms and arts & crafts shops.
NIGHTSTOP: Ripon. PROPERTY: Ripon Spa Hotel or similar, http://www.riponspa.com/
Day 12 Thursday
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!’
Also today, visit what may just be the most spectacular stately home in Yorkshire, Castle Howard. This beautiful palace, recently used in the Brideshead Revisited film among others, is still lived in by the Howard family who built it in the 18th Century. You’ll have free time here to explore the house and grounds.
NIGHTSTOP: Ripon, as above
Day 13 Friday
The charming landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales will be our 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! We can call into the old market town of Thirsk and can experience the famous view from Sutton Bank, which has been described as “England’s finest view.” This lovely scenery was also recently featured in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Another stop today can be Richmond, called one of the nicest towns in England and 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.
NIGHT STOP: Ripon, as above
Day 14 Saturday
We will make our way to the city of York, a fabulous walled city that has much to offer its visitors! We will spend much of the day here. Attractions in York include the splendid Minster, the city centre castle and the medieval shopping ‘Shambles.’ Seeking a literary connection, York is the home town of poet WH Auden and Behind the Scenes at the Museum author Kate Atkinson plus has been the inspiration for many including Dickens and Dafoe.
We will return to Manchester by early evening.
Links with The Lake District, date of your choice
Please Note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we do our utmost to include all properties, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to visit due to change in opening times, days.