1918 – 2018, Centenary of the Representation of the People Act in UK
1920 - 2020, 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women's constitutional right to vote in USA
4 days from London
Great for School/Alumni groups and Garden Clubs!
This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes. Price based on how many travelers, your chosen package inclusions and your chosen level of accommodation.
This tour begins and ends in London
Welcome to London! Arrive into London at your convenience and explore the icons and museums not included in the tour package at your leisure before the tour. Choose to arrive the day prior to the tour or spend a few days in the capital independently. Optional airport transfers are available as are optional London day trips, attraction tickets or theatre tickets.
Perhaps you will choose to go around on the “Big Bus” the easiest way to see the main icons and get orientated in London. Hop off when you want then hop back on – a fun way to start your holiday! SGT highly recommends a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral during your time in London. General iconic sites include The Tower, St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey to name a few then there are many fabulous museums on a variety of themes. How about the Royal Palaces Pass? London has a wide array of public parks and gardens of all shapes and sizes. We recommend taking advantage of the world famous London theatre during your stay, there’s the famed West End, Shakespeare’s Globe several ‘off West End’ gems like The National, Royal Court and Young Vic. Heaps of options, ask us for full details. What to do? The choice is yours!
Sissinghurst – Vita Sackville West
Charleston Farm – Vanessa Bell
Monk’s House – Virginia Woolf
Depart our London meeting point 09:00
See the fabulous Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson’s world famous garden. Explore this intimate and intricate garden and visit those parts of the home open to the public. Here, we’ll find a Tudor tower complete with Vita’s workshop, a walled herb garden, mixed border gardens, an oast house museum, a white garden and a cottage garden. Certainly something to delight all interests!
See the homes of Virginia Woolf at Monk’s House, her final home, and that of her sister Vanessa Bell, Charleston Farm. Monk’s House is jam packed with character and the spirit of not just The Woolfs but also the many artists, writers and thinkers who visited here. Pay respects to the couple in their cottage gardens, lovingly tended by Leonard and a favoured place of inspiration for Virginia, where she kept her famed ‘writing room.’
Visit the farmhouse home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, the weekend getaway for the Woolfs, Lytton Strachey, EM Forster and TS Elliot among others. Entering these rooms is like stepping back in time. The gardens of Charleston are of the Arts and Crafts style infused with an Italian flair and certainly reflect the originality of its owners. Vanessa Bell described her creation as “a dithering blaze of flowers and butterflies and apples…!”
Stay: Lewes area, Sussex
Lewes – Anne of Cleves
Vann Gardens – Gertrude Jekyll & Mary Caroe
Chawton – Jane Austen + Chawton Library women’s writers collection (subject to appointment)
The town of Lewes is interesting, a place with an interesting history dating to Roman times, once home to a Tudor Queen and dominated by a Norman castle. It is where Ann of Cleves House, one of Henry VIII's 6 wives, lived and we can tour her Tudor home.
We’ll be making our way through the county of Surrey, the area that famed garden designer Gertrude Jekyll called home. By special appointment/subject to avilability, a visit to a garden called “enchanting” by the Sunday Telegraph, Vann Gardens. Here in the 5-acre wonderland, we can explore the garden ‘rooms’ that boast a variety of styles, both formal and cottage including the water garden designed and planted by Gertrude Jekyll in 1911. This is the home of another wonderful woman, Mary Caroe, from whom you will receive a warm welcome!
Jane Austen’s cottage home at Chawton is 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. By special appointment/subject to availability, visit the Chawton House Library, the one-time home of Jane Austen's brother Edward. The main collection here focuses on works written by women in English during the period 1600 to 1830. During our time here, there is the option for the group to enjoy a special lunch buffet here. (subject to availability based on your chosen travel dates.)
Stay: Hampshire/Bath area
Bath – Jane Austen, Georgina Duchess of Devonshire & others
Either Malmesbury – Barbara Pollard or Barnsley – Rosemary Verey
Downton Abbey, Mitford Sisters in lower Cotswolds
Oxford – Blue Stockings
This morning, time to explore the compact city of Georgian splendor and Roman antiquity, Bath. Enjoy an orientation walking tour with your guide. This place was enjoyed by the social set of the 18th and 19th centuries, one-time home to Georgina Duchess of Devonshire, Mary Shelly, Jane Austen and many other writers and notable women. Enjoy some free time around Bath, perhaps visit 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!
We will meander a few of the lovely Cotswolds villages as time permits. Those associated with popular Downton Abbey will top our list. Swinbrook is a quintessentially English village where time has stood still. Here too are connections to the notorious Mitford sisters, sister Debo, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, was once owner. The ancient market town of Bampton, one of the oldest towns in England and another filming location for Downton Abbey, has many pleasant 17th and 18th century buildings. There are many wonderful gardens in this region, we can choose to visit one with an amazing woman at the helm - either Barnsley House designed by Rosemanry Verey or the quaint town of Malmesbury, of 'naked gardener' Barbara Pollard. Spoilt for choice!
Late some time exploring the ‘city of the dreaming spires’ Oxford. See Christchurch College with its Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and Inspector Morse connections. One of the epicentres for the Suffragette movement, Oxford was among the first to provide higher education for women and, from early 1920s, ‘The Blue Stockings’ women finally won the right to obtain degrees. A walking tour of the colleges will introduce you to these highlights and others.
Wallingford - Agatha Christie
Marlow – Mary Shelley
Cliveden Gardens – Mary Astor
Windsor – Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Elizabeth II, Nell Gywn, Meghan Markle
Make the way via the town of Wallingford, where crime writer Agatha Christie lived for a time, also known as a filming location for the TV show Midsomer Murders. Also via the peaceful riverside town of Marlow, where Mary Shelley lived for a time and completed her most famous work, Frankenstein.
This afternoon, make the way into the countryside, with the Astor family's magnificent country gardens at Cliveden as the destination. Nancy Astor was the first woman to serve in the British Parliament. While she advocated and advanced the cause of women's rights, she was disliked by some women’s groups as she was both American and Upper Class. She was well known for her strong will and clever wit. At Nancy’s home of Cliveden, follow in the footsteps of dukes, earls and royalty as you explore this formal series of gardens that include topiary, colorful seasonal planting in the Long Garden plus the celebrated parterre offering breathtaking views.
Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor is said to have been commissioned especially by "The Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I. She also spent much time in Windsor Castle, regarding it as a safe haven "knowing it could stand a siege if need be." Windsor Castle is over 900 years old, having begun construction under William the Conqueror, and is still the main Royal residence for the Monarchy. In May, 2018 this was setting for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, and where they live today with baby Archie. Windsor was also a favourite town for Nell Gywn, who lived just outside the palace grounds to be near her love Charles II.
Return to lovely this evening, where your touring adventure concludes.
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 beyond our control.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.
This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.
Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability.
SGT is at your service!
The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.
The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!
At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!