This tour begins and ends in London.
Day 1, Sunday
Making our way out of London from our meeting point at approximately 9am, our first main port of call is the Georgian city of Bath. Your guide will be on hand for a walking tour of the city. 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. What an opportunity to compare and contrast the difference between the American and Welsh style of quilts! The American Museum also features several Navajo rugs, early arts and craft items and woodworks to admire. Later there will be some free time in Bath 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.
This afternoon, we’ll travel across the border and into the “Land of the Red Dragon” Wales. Here we’ll enjoy the open-air Museum of Welsh Life in the village of St Fagans. This fascinating mirror of hundreds of years of Welsh life embraces dozens of authentic buildings, removed from all corners of the country and painstakingly and faithfully rebuilt and refurbished here. These have been wonderfully preserved and are a lovely way to learn about the traditional way of life of this wonderful country. We’ll find items of costume and historical dress as a social record and textile craft collections include quilting, embroidery, lacemaking, tailoring, textile machinery and products of the Welsh woollen industry.
ON South Wales
Day 2, Monday
Today we will make our way along one of the UK’s nicest areas, the Gower Coast with our ultimate destination being 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. What tour itinerary of Wales would be complete without a bit of the ‘Dylan Thomas Trail’? We may just happen upon a quilt shop during our day too!
ON Carmarthen or Fishguard area
Day 3, Tuesday
Today we’re spoilt for choice in Pembrokshire and Carmarthenshire! We will enjoy a mix of general sightseeing and sites on our quilts & textiles theme in the scenic west.
Wool was historically one of the most important and widespread of Wales’s industries. The picturesque village of Dre-fach Felindre in the beautiful Teifi Valley was once the centre of this thriving woollen industry. The National Wool Museum, located in the former Cambrian Mills, is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell and we’ll learn about its role in Welsh history ‘from fleece to fabric’ in these sympathetically restored historic mill buildings.
Our day will include a stop in the smallest city in the UK, St David’s. It was here that the patron saint of Wales was born and lived. There’ll be time for you to explore the cathedral and bishop’s palace. The rest of today will be a lovely and scenic drive around the wonders of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, where we can discover ancient spiritual sites amid the lovely scenery. There’s Pentre Ifan burial chamber, Pembrokeshire’s flagship ancient site is deservedly famous. The chamber is set on the side of Carn Ingli and overlooks sweeping Newport Bay. If we wish, there are other choices for woolen mills and shops to visit in the area too.
ON Carmarthen or Fishguard area, as above
Day 4, Wednesday
Today we will visit two special places that are very important in the effort to preserve the art of Welsh quilting.
Jen Jones has been buying, selling and collecting Welsh Quilts for more than thirty years. The Jen Jones Welsh Quilt Centre opened in Lampeter Town Hall in 2009 to celebrate the Welsh Quilt and to promote a wider understanding of the importance of this regional art form. Here you can enjoy stunning exhibitions of Welsh Quilts in the gallery and browse the intriguing Welsh Quilt Centre Gallery Shop. Her original cottage shop in Llanybydder also remains open nearby, so we can enjoy time there too.
The Welsh Quilt Association was set up in 1996 by a group of friends with the goal of enjoying and preserving the rich history of Welsh Quilting. Perhaps the most important work of the Quilt Association is the care, preservation and study of its growing collection of antique quilts, many of which are from the local area. They operate the Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes and have weekly meetings for sharing their quilt work and stitch techniques. We have been invited to join the ladies today, what a special opportunity for us to meet and share with local quilters!
ON Hay-on-Wye area
Day 5, Thursday
We have a lovely free day in Hay on Wye, called the ‘World’s Largest Used Book Centre’ where even the castle dungeon is lined with books. There are many book and specialty shops to meander including a Vintage Mercantile featuring many fabrics. Thursday is the local market day so a great chance to mingle with our neighbors.
Those interested in some walking opportunities, your guide will be on hand to assist you with some options, perhaps following the path of Francis Kilvert from Hay to Clyro. Alternatively for those that wish to go a bit further afield, there is the option of side excursions to Cambrian Mill, Llanwrtyd Wells or Brecon via public transport.
Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.
ON Hay-on-Wye area, as above
Day 6, Friday
Our day will be spent attending the Spring or Autumn Quilts UK Show in Malvern. Here, enjoy viewing the competition entries, from miniatures to king size quilts in a variety of styles. There will be feature displays, patchwork and stitching demonstrations, quilting workshops available and a retail section to enjoy. If there’s time after the show, perhaps discover some hidden Border castles or have a breath-taking drive through the Black Mountains.
ON Hay-on-Wye area, as above
Day 7, Saturday
Continuing explorations, this morning cross the border again, back into England to meander a bit through the Cotswolds, the famed old market towns and scenic thatched roof villages. There is the opportunity for a stop in a tea shop or ancient pub for lunch. With our small vehicle, we can get where larger coaches can’t go and enjoy getting off the beaten track.
Later 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.
Our tour concludes in London early evening. 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. Spoilt for choice!
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.