​Literary Heritage in Southern England and Wales

You read the book - now have it come alive!

12 days

This is a feast for the bookworm, the literary-minded and simply those who enjoy seeing and learning about a country, not just ‘photographing the sites’ from a bus window. Here’s the plot. Our knowledgeable and entertaining guide takes you, and just 10 or so others, through some of the UK’s prettiest landscapes, visiting author’s homes, literary museums, towns and villages where stories are set, and places that obviously inspired the artist’s muse.

 

Available at any date for private groups of 2 – 15 people, subject to availability. Rates are based upon vehicle and guide hire per day; groups of 7 – 15 would have a per person rate same/similar to one of our scheduled tours of the same length.

Please note, this is a suggested itinerary. It may be revised to suit your individual group needs.

TENTATIVE ITINERARY

Day 1, Monday

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 for a time.

Kipling’s home of Batemans is our next port of call. Here, much of the house and grounds, with its tranquil river side setting and pretty gardens, is as the author left it, including his study. The interiors reflect Kipling’s love of the East.

If we’ve time and there’s an interest, we may be able to find time for some sites of Arthur Conan Doyle and his timeless creation, Sherlock Holmes.

NIGHT STOP: Kent, Sevenoaks or Cranbrook

 

Day 2, Tuesday

Chaucer’s mediaeval city of Canterbury will be our first stop. Nearby is the former home of Jane Austen’s brother, Goodnestone Park. We will visit this charming Regency garden where Jane herself was a frequent visitor. It is said that a stay here inspired the start of Pride and Prejudice. We’ll also visit Broadstairs, where we’ll find the inspiration for Bleak House. All in all, another fantastic day!

NIGHT STOP: Kent, Sevenoaks or Cranbrook

 

Day 3, Wednesday

This morning, the charming port town, Henry James’ Rye.

Next, “Bloomsbury in Sussex” as we explore the homes of Virginia Woolf at Monk’s House, her final home and that of her sister Vanessa Bell, Charleston Farm. Here we visit the farmhouse that was the weekend getaway for Woolf, Lytton Strachey, EM Forster and TS Elliot as well as many others. Entering these rooms is like stepping back in time…

NIGHT STOP: Chichester/Portsmouth area

 

Day 4, Thursday

Today, Jane Austen Country! We will visit her Chawton home where she spent the last eight years of her life. The house, where she wrote Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice amongst others, is now open as a museum.

The ancient Saxon capital of Winchester, Jane’s last home. There’ll be time for a guided walk around the city to include the cathedral (with Jane Austen’s Memorial,) one of England’s most famous public schools and the legendary ‘King Arthur’s Round Table’.

If we’ve time, we’ll catch a glimpse of iconic Stonehenge, as described in Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, before making our way to our night stop in Dorchester.

NIGHT STOP: Dorchester

 

Day 5, Friday

Today is our day to be totally immersed in Thomas Hardy’s world, far from the madding crowd. We’ll visit his cottage plus some of the towns and villages that are easily recognizable as the source of inspiration. We will particularly seek out some of the smaller villages with a timeless Dorsetshire air to them. In Dorchester, we will walk the streets and see Stinsford Church.

We will also spend some time in Jane Austen’s Lyme Regis, exploring part of Britain’s ‘Jurassic Park’ and perhaps find a fossil or two along the shoreline. Lyme Regis, which was a popular sea spa town and the site of many Austen family holidays, looks much as it did when Jane spent time here, and sites from Persuasion are recognizable.

NIGHT STOP: Dorchester

 

Day 6, Saturday

This morning, we will make our way from Dorset to the neighboring county of Somerset. Along this northern coast was the area of inspiration for Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth. We will visit Coleridge’s House, a few of the villages and coastal areas that were the inspiration for some of his great works such as Kubla Khan and The Ancient Mariner.

Glastonbury, the mystic town reputedly the site of Arthur’s burial and ‘New Age’ capital of England is our next stop. We will visit the mysterious Tor and explore the legends of King Arthur and ancient fairies.

NIGHT STOP: Bath

 

Day 7, Sunday (ND)

A full day to explore Bath as you please. Visit the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms, the Jane Austen Centre, or wander the lovely tea and antique shops. The choice is yours!

Your guide will be on hand for advice and a 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 many streets and squares from her novels such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. You can also see homes where the author herself lived.

Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.

NIGHT STOP: Bath

 

Day 8, Monday

Our first visit today is 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 and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Fittingly, the local abbey was where George Fox Talbot pioneered photography.

From here we head over the Severn into Wales where we’ll explore the scenic Wye Valley and romantic Tintern Abbey, inspiration for one of William Wordsworth’s loveliest poems. Interest permitting, if we’ve time, we may also catch a glimpse of the area where Harry Potter author JK Rowling grew up.

NIGHT STOP: Bridgend/Gower

 

Day 9, Tuesday

A unique day following the Dylan Thomas Trail and affording us the opportunity of touring one of the UK’s nicest areas, the Gower Coast. We will spend time in the village of Laugharne. This was Dylan Thomas’ village, the inspiration for Under Milk Wood, where we’ll see his famed boat house writing studio, home and grave. Also, we will feature the city of Swansea and explore a few other legends of Welsh literature including the great Celtic tradition that gave birth to the Arthurian legends.

NIGHT STOP: Bridgend/Gower

 

Day 10, Wednesday

Some magnificent scenery today, through the hills and valleys of Wales then across the ‘undiscovered’ borders region. Hay on Wye, the world’s largest used book centre where even the castle dungeon is lined with books will surely delight!

Also today, the lovely city of Gloucester with its many wonderful literary connections. In addition to their historical connections, Gloucester Cathedral and the King’s School were used in the Harry Potter films; there are also sites to do with another Potter (Beatrix) and her Peter Rabbit plus Humpty Dumpty can claim his origins here.

We will make our way through one or two of the honey-thatch cottage villages in this region of the Cotswolds. Each is unique and pretty in its own right and we will explore as time will permit. With our small vehicle, we’ll get where larger coaches can’t and avoid the commercialized ‘honey-pots,’ discovering the best.

NIGHT STOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon

 

Day 11, Thursday

Optional morning tour to Birmingham to explore the Tolkien’s inspiration for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You may spend the entire day in Stratford if you prefer. Your choice!

The bulk of our day will be spent in Stratford-Upon-Avon itself, so you have ample time to discover the charming town and Shakespeare connections. Our visits will include time in 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.

Dinner is not included tonight so you have the option to attend an RSC performance.

NIGHT STOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon

 

Day 12, Friday

Our main visit today will be mediaeval Oxford, ‘city of the dreaming spires’ and the jewel in the literary crown. We’ll enjoy a guided walk through the colleges and our day will include CS Lewis’ Alice in Wonderland and time to see where the ‘Inklings’ (TS Elliot, Tolkien & Auden) met. Of course, this is also the city of Colin Dexter’s ‘Inspector Morse’ series and the film site for ‘Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.’

We will meander our way back into London via the Thames Valley and Chiltern Hills. There’s the pretty riverside town of Marlow where Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, and where T S Elliot lived for some years, John Milton’s Cottage and also Stoke Poges, with the grave and monument to Thomas Grey, Elegy in a Country Churchyard all to choose from. A lovely end to our lovely literary adventure!

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.

Toll Free Tel: 1 866-725-5250
specialgrouptours@yahoo.com

Price: dependent upon how many are in your party; please contact us for a quote. Contact us for availability and rate quote: specialgrouptours@yahoo.com