Choose to spend time in London pre-tour, beginning your tour at 9am from the lobby of your London hotel OR you can begin with meeting your guide at London Heathrow Airport directly from your overnight flight. Note that DAY ONE visits may fluctuate dependent upon arrival flight times.
Our first stop can be in the beauty of the Chiltern Hills, a quaint area just a stone’s throw from the sprawling metropolis of London. Here you will find an original Quaker churchyard with the grave of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. The quiet simplicity of this 1600s building will contrast sharply with the later magnificence of the great Gothic cathedrals, a reminder of the reasons for the reformation and early Puritanism.
Another short drive will bring you to Dorchester Abbey. This was once the centre of the largest diocese in England and an important Roman centre. Today this once imposing 12th century abbey sits in an idyllic thatched cottage village.
Today can also include ample time ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford, focusing on New College and Christchurch cathedrals. Both cathedrals are situated in university colleges and both contain some unforgettable treasures, a painting by El Greco in one and literary associations with ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and that boy wizard Harry in the other. Christchurch also brings our first contact with John Wesley, who was educated here then later taught here.
Later, make your way to your accommodation base for the next few days.
NIGHTSTOP: in or near Bath
Our day takes you to two of the most inspiring cathedral cites in the UK, Salisbury and Winchester, with time in each to explore the sites as well as the cathedrals themselves. Salisbury is famed for its steeple, the highest in Britain, copy of the ‘Magna Carta’ and splendid variety of museums and important houses in the cathedral close. Winchester boasts Jane Austen’s tomb, the remains of some of England’s earliest kings and the nearby St Cross monastery, where the pilgrim’s ‘wayfarer’s dole’ of bread and beer have been offered to pilgrims for the last thousand years or more.
As time and interest permits, we may be able to enjoy a short visit to the impressively preserved mediaeval village of Lacock. Here in the ancient abbey we’ll see an early brewery, the birthplace of modern photography, and the sites of many recent period films.
NIGHTSTOP: in our near Bath, as above
Today see Wells Cathedral and mystic Glastonbury. Joseph of Aramathea is said to have visited here and this explains the origins of the monastery. It is claimed the mighty King Arthur and bride Guinevere are buried here. Whatever the truth, the town is delightful and is today the centre of mysticism in England, hosting many interesting ‘new age’ shops and the fabulous Tor.
Later, to Bath to enjoy what this elegant Georgian city has to offer. After a panoramic city tour and a visit to the Roman baths, have free time to explore as you wish, visit the abbey, Jane Austen Centre or simply relax by the riverside.
NIGHTSTOP: in our near Bath, as above
Our journey today is quite simply breathtaking, through Borders countryside, touring through the Wye Valley, stopping to wonder as did Wordsworth at the sheer magnificence of Tintern Abbey. Then our day will take us through the narrow winding roads of the Black Mountains to the lovely Llantony Priory. There are a few ‘typical’ Welsh chapels to possibly discover before crossing back into England and to the lovely city of Hereford. Here we’ve two highlights, the cathedral, home of one of the world’s most treasured maps, the mediaeval ‘mappa mundi’ and a delightful local parish church.
NIGHTSTOP: Hereford/Shrewsbury area
A rare bit of motorway driving will bring us to some faith restoring scenic areas around the Lancashire Dales and south Yorkshire Moors, the heart of “John Wesley Country.” The workers of the local cotton and coal towns in this industrial area formed much of his congregation. A highlight of the afternoon can be a visit to Wesley’s octagonal chapel at Heptonstall Bridge.
Later, we will arrive into our Northern England base in the city of York.
DAY SIX ND
A full day spent in York, one featuring York Minster, no adjective can adequately describe this truly awe-inspiring edifice! York is a fabulous walled city that has much to offer its visitors including a city centre castle, Roman museum, National Railway museum, Quilt Centre, Jorvik Viking Centre and the medieval shopping ‘Shambles’ to name a few highlights. You will have all day to explore as you please. Your guide will be on hand for advice, assistance and a morning orientation walking tour for those that wish it.
Another splendid day featuring cathedrals and a host of romantic, ruined abbeys set in stunning scenery. We’ll explore one of Britain’s most historic cities. Durham is a Heritage city where you can learn of St. Cuthbert, one of the earliest Christians in the country, and of Bede, one of Britain’s earliest historians.
The rest of our day, as time permits, can also include the ruined Bolton and Rivaulx abbeys, small typical parish churches and even an original ‘preaching stone,’ said to have been used by John Wesley. Fittingly each of these possible ecclesiastical diamonds is set in the fabulous scenery of the rolling countryside of Yorkshire.
NIGHTSTOP: York, as above
From York we drive south to Lincoln, a city visited by far too few. Here discover the great cathedral spires and castle battlements dominating the hilltop above the ancient mediaeval, cobbled street of ‘old Jewry’. Contrasting with the imposing grandeur of Lincoln will be the ‘hidden’ parish churches en route as we make our way to Cambridge. Memorials to forgotten wars, flower-filled naves and atmospheric graveyards will be amongst our finds.
NIGHTSTOP: Cambridge/Ely area
Today is our very own ‘tale of two cities’ as you discover the pleasures of Ely and Cambridge.
Cambridge is one of the country’s quieter, rural areas where the river Cam lazily winds its way through the university college grounds. The founders of the university chose the site because it was removed from the tensions of ‘city life’ in Oxford. The area has retained that feeling of solitude and peace as you’ll also discover in Ely, home of Oliver Cromwell and site of some of the most magnificent stained glass you’ll ever see!
From Cambridge it’s a relatively short drive across the Thames to Kent.
The county of Kent is perhaps the greatest of all English pilgrim routes, to Canterbury and to the shrine of Thomas a Becket. We will follow this ancient route much like Chaucer’s pilgrims did all those years ago.
Another place of interest today can be Rochester, a gem of a city with its cathedral, Norman castle and Charles Dickens sites.
This evening, we will arrive into London where our touring adventure concludes.
Continue your touring in London independently or we can share some of the city’s rich spiritual heritage on a guided visit.
Small Groups, Interesting Itineraries, Personalized Service. Oft imitated, never duplicated! This itinerary is an original Special Group Tours itinerary, written in conjunction with Bruce Cherry.