History Focus Tours: Celts, Romans & Tudors
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Roman Britain, England and Wales: A Classic Route
The Romans ruled Britain for nearly 400 years. It wasn't an easy task - Queen Boudicea inflicted the heaviest defeat on Imperial Rome but, ultimately, the local Celtic tribes were no match for their organized military precision. Romans settled in, built highly decorated villas resplendent with mosaics, ornate gardens with fine statuary, extensive towns, bathhouses, amphitheaters and temples. They even left us with their language! Despite the intervening 1600 years with Saxon, Viking, Norman and Mediaeval settlements often built on top of Roman buildings, there's still plenty of physical evidence of their occupation to discover.
This tour, while focused on historical and ancient Roman remains, visits some of the prettiest parts of the UK. Tour companions who might not be quite as keen on the main theme will find plenty of distractions!
The Great West Way Tour – England's Icons and Scenic Countryside
"The Great West Way" is based on the first road commissioned by the Kings of England. Visitors do not have to travel far out of London to delve deeper into the countryside, the lush green landscapes that hold a wealth of treasures, both the world famous and soon-to-be-discovered hidden gems. Along The Great West Way you will find extraordinary ancient momuments, quaint traditional villages, 'olde worlde' pubs and inns; World Heritage Sites rub shoulders with friendly local communities. Explore Royal Windsor, Roman Bath, Regal Salisbury, timeless Stonehenge and historic Oxford. It is all here waiting for you to discover!
Roman Britain South, Hampshire & South Wales
At the time of the Roman invasions of 45 & 55BC, Britain was still in the late Iron Age, inhabited by Celtic tribes whose ancestors had emigrated centuries before from the Danube basin. In July 54BC with 50,000 men General Julius Caesar landed in Southern England unopposed and crossed the River Thames. It was to be the start of 450 years of occupation and settlement.
Our tour will visit major sites of Roman occupation in the south of England , to see how they lived, relaxed and what major benefits, including 8,000 miles of road, they brought to the inhabitants to this Roman outpost. You’ll see examples of villas, fortresses, amphitheatres (including the best preserved in the UK) and towns. You’ll visit superb modern interpretative centres and see reconstruction of life under the Romans.
To add to your enjoyment, the sites are all set in some of the UK’s prettiest landscape and amidst its oldest cities. There’s plenty more to see and do on this tour for those who are not quite perhaps as enthusiastic about learning of Roman Britain as others may be!
Celebrating Shakespeare & Tudor England: London, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Heart of England
Our explorations follow the haunts of William Shakespeare in and around his home town of Stratford-Upon-Avon and London. This is a theatre tour, a literary heritage adventure, a garden sampler and a general interest focus on London and the Midlands. The tour will feature quaint villages, beautiful stately homes, a castle and gardens throughout the Heart of England and around the capital, all stunningly beautiful in their own right and many of which have Tudor connections, some which would have been known to the Bard. Go backstage to 3 of the UK's top theatres, experience a theatre workshop and have opportunity to attend a variety of performances.
Footsteps of a Queen, Tudor England
Before radio, TV or internet, how was an English Monarch to stay in touch with the people?
Queen Elizabeth I went on tour each summer. During this Golden Age of England, Elizabeth’s reign brought wealth and stability to the nation and she enjoyed a special relationship of adoration and respect from her subjects. Each summer, Elizabeth went on her tours, or ‘progresses,’ to stay in tune with the needs and wants of the people. One of her more famous trips took place in 1575 and we will loosely follow in the “footsteps of the Queen” to discover some of the rich heritage of Tudor England.
Our explorations will feature the quaint villages, beautiful stately homes/castles and gardens throughout the Heart of England and around the capital, all stunningly beautiful in their own right and many of which have Tudor connections. See Stratford-Upon-Avon, Hampton Court Palace, Oxford, Windsor Castle and charming villages around the Heart of England. The Highlights of Tudor England. This is an itinerary we hope is a fun twist to the usual ‘homes and gardens’ tour!
Highlights of Wales: The Classic Route
Wales – The hills are alive! With singing and the second oldest language spoken in Europe. On this Welsh adventure, sample the fantastic scenery of three National Parks. Enjoy a heritage coastline, a steam train ride through the mountains, cosmopolitan Cardiff and glimpse the past in a fantastic folk park and down a coal mine, remainders of the industrial heritage. Marvel at prehistoric tombs, meander the seaside, castle walled cities, and beautiful gardens. All in all, this tour is a sampler of the best of what this wonderful country has to offer visitors, something to please all tastes.
Wales-Ireland: Coasts and Rivers
Sometimes called ‘The Celtic Fringe,’ the southeast coast of Ireland and the west coast of Wales have much to offer visitors. The areas share a beautiful, rugged coastline and amazing natural sites where we can explore the remains of the ancient peoples that settled here. There is a rich religious legacy to discover, both Celtic and Christian. Separated by the Irish Sea, each maintains its own unique culture and heritage. We can compare, contrast and enjoy the hospitality of the gracious local people. We’ll see waterfalls, rivers, national parks, glorious gardens, a fairy tale castle, and several lovely towns.
Shakespeare Country: Stratford-Upon-Avon & Cotswolds MONDAY Day Trip
London Escapes with a Difference! Small Group Touring, from 2 to 16 guests
Special Themes: Gardens, Literary Heritage, Downton Abbey, Antiques, Tudors, Britain at War...
What makes us different? SGT strives to get you off the beaten track so you can have an authentic experience, the opportunity to mingle with the locals. We do not like 'whistle stops' and it is our goal to have guests off of the vehicle exploring as much as possible.
Your SMALL GROUP day trip accommodates from a minimum of 2 guests to a max of just 16 guests per departure. Travel in (dependant on participant numbers) a standard car, MPV/SUV or mini-coach.
DEPARTURE POINT: Novotel Hammersmith, 1 Shortlands, London W6 (approx 5 minutes walk from Hammersmith tube station/District & Piccadilly lines; Mall/King Street exit, go right out of the station onto Hammersmith Rd then right onto Shortlands)
DEPARTURE TIME: 09:00
All scheduled day trips go out weekly with a minimum of 2 guests per travel date. Also available any day/date for private departures, subject to vehicle and driver/guide availability. Private departures cost will depend on how many in your party/size of vehicle.
SGT DAY TRIPS Year Round Departures (Saturdays, as noted)
MONDAYS Shakespeare Country: Stratford-Upon-Avon & Cotswolds Villages...including Downton Abbey villages
TUESDAYS Jane Austen’s Hampshire: Chawton & Winchester
WEDNESDAYS Jane Austen’s Bath & Lacock
THURSDAYS Cambridge & IWM Duxford RAF Aviation Museum
FRIDAYS London Antiques Markets & Globe Theatre
SATURDAYS ‘Garden of England’ Sampler: Sissinghurst & Great Dixter (April - September)
SATURDAYS Heroes of WWII: Royal Air Force & Codebreakers of Bletchley Park (October - March)
SUNDAYS Royal Gardens/Winter Hothouse Gardens: Kew & RHS Wisley
Royal Britain, from Edinburgh to London
Pomp, pageantry and centuries of royal tradition. Steeped in history and full of finery, art, unique objects and incredible craftsmanship, the royal family's houses across the UK are truly magnificent. Buckingham Palace. Windsor Castle. Hampton Court Palace. Sandringham. Holyrood. So many treaures to uncover across the British Isles. Royal events include all manner of ancient customs and festivities, from the ceremonial locking of the Tower of London to the glamour of the annual Royal Ascot horse races and the Trooping of the Colour. It is all here in Britain and waiting for you to discover!
Visit the UK locations that have shaped the lives of the British Royals, from Queen Elizabeth, the longest reigning monarch, to Prince Charles, Princess Diana and their children, Prince Harry and Prince William. Explore the world of the Young Royals, Prince William and Kate Middleton and, soon to be married, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. From William and Kate's meeting in the university town of St. Andrews, to living together in Anglesey, Wales, to life near the royal residence of Sandringham: sample 'their Britain' for yourself. Come and celebrate Harry and Meghan's Royal Wedding!
Thank You Mrs Pankhurst, A Ladies Adventure Celebrating the Great Women of Britain tour
"Walk past St Paul’s Cathedral and you can’t shake the weight of history that hovers in its midst – the Great Fire, Lord Nelson’s funeral, the bombs raining down in the Blitz. In Manchester, there’s no surer way of hammering home the city’s industrial past than a quick canal-side stroll. But when it comes to women’s fight for equality, the markers of that chapter of history are hidden. Every day we unknowingly walk past the places that witnessed the history of equality unfold. We don’t give them a second glance but the history is everywhere...In various spots across the two cities...Women risked their livelihoods and reputations for the cause, and it even split the movement, going on hunger strike in jail and being force-fed by their jailers. In fact, it’s easy to gloss over the sacrifice they made, which is why their full history deserves to be retraced now. Consider this your guide to following in the steps of the women to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. After all it’s said you can’t fully understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. So, what are you waiting for?" - Stylist Magazine, Suffragette Cities article
Come and celebrate the strong women who paved the way for us today. 2018 marks 100 years since women partially won the right to vote in the UK, the Representation of the People Act extended the vote to all men over 21, and to some groups of women over 30.
The movement to gain votes for women had two arms: the suffragists and the suffragettes. In 1897, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies was formed under the leadership of Millicent Fawcett. The NUWSS wanted the vote for middle class property-owning women. They used peaceful tactics to campaign - non-violent demonstrations, petitions and the lobbying of MPs. Born out of this suffragist movement, came the more militant 'suffragettes' led by Emmeline Pankhurst, she decided to break with the NUWSS in 1903 and set up a separate society that included younger and working class women. Their motto was "deeds not words" and violence, hunger strikes and law-breaking became part of their campaign tactics. Their goal was to make noise, make an impact that would get the attention of the public.
'Vote 100' centenary exhibition, June - September 2018 - a major exhibition in Westminster Hall covering the growth of the male franchise, the campaign for votes for women, and the representation of women in the House of Commons and House of Lords
Tudor Day Out: Hampton Court Palace & Hever Castle Day Trip
Henry VIII’s masterpiece Hampton Court Palace is set in over 60 acres of gardens and parklands along the scenic River Thames. Another "Tudor gem" is the double moated Hever Castle but it actually dates back to about 1270. It is most famously known as Anne Boleyn's childhood home.
Enjoy a fabulous day out from the capital!
North Wales Sampler – Celts, Castles & Gardens
North Wales is home to the fantastic scenery of Snowdonia National Park, Isle of Angelsey and the most impressive range of 12th century castles of anywhere in the British Isles. Enjoy the wonderful tranquility of a Victorian coastal resort and a steam train ride into the mountains. Uncover a fabulous industrial heritage, prehistoric tombs and evidence of the rich Celtic culture of our forefathers. All in all, this is a lovely short break in the stunning Welsh countryside!
This tour can link with the South Wales Sampler tour via easy rail connections between London and Manchester. Please ask us for details
Star Wars: The Last Jedi in Ireland, Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland’s west coast leads you through one of the world’s most dramatic coastal landscapes, a landscape on the edge of Europe that has shaped the development of its people, communities and settlements, a landscape that has inspired its own particular language, literature, art, song and dance.
It’s a place of many natural features - seascapes, sea-life, cliffs, mountains, glens, loughs, trails and pathways. It’s a place to experience nature at its wildest, a place to explore the history of the Gaels and their religion; a place to experience great events, great food and drink, great music and the craic. -GoVisitDonegal.com
Brighton & “Bloomsbury in Sussex” Weekend
See the seaside towns of Brighton & Rye, meander classic countryside, discover 1066 history, relax in the cottage gardens & inspirational homes of some of England’s greatest writers and artists.
Irish Literary Heritage: Sligo, Connemara, Galway, Cliffs of Moher -- coincides with Joyce's Bloomsday in Dublin
This is perhaps an ideal tour for those who really want to get off the beaten track on the discovery trail, using Ireland’s rich literary heritage as our guide. Not just for the literary minded, as there is much to offer visitors. For lovers of scenery, there are rolling downs, rugged seascapes, lakes and the lush, green countryside that is so representative of ‘The Emerald Isle.’ There’s a wealth of ancient sites, beautiful gardens, lively pubs and the welcome of the local people.
Join us to experience areas of inspiration for Ireland’s great novelists, poets and playwrights such as James Joyce, WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and JM Synge. These fun filled days will introduce you to a land of words, to a land of inspiration, to weavers of magic tales. Their words provide us the road map to explore the history and heritage of this rich land. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, some of the Celtic magic might just rub off!
Highlights of Scotland: Scottish Literary Trail...coincides with Edinburgh Festivals
Scotland is a land rich in its distinctive national literature. This tour is a sampling of the best of what this wonderful country has to offer, from the stunning Highlands to Dumfries & Galloway to the Scottish Borders, visiting iconic places plus oft overlooked gems off the beaten track, using the ample literary heritage as a 'road map.'
There are innumerable places to visit associated with great authors and their works - writers’ homes, birthplaces, graves, locations vividly described in novels and poems. These stunning landscapes, inspiration for such great works of literature, are here waiting for you to discover for yourself!
Spires, Steeples and Spiritual Britain: A Classic Route
Britain is truly blessed with the sort of ecclesiastical architectural and cultural heritage you don't have to be religious to appreciate! There are the magnificent gothic cathedrals towering above their surrounds, exquisite early Saxon structures from 6th and 7th century. There are quaint parish churches, breathtaking ruined abbeys, their remains still testifying to their past glories and many Christian sites built upon ancient places of worship.
There are the simple chapels of Methodism and the sumptuous hidden chapels sited inside the great stately homes, each with treasures to discover and countless stories to unfold. Great works of art, splendid stained glass, memorable tomb architecture, carvings and memorials to long forgotten battles. Travel amid stunning countryside, a cathedral of nature waiting to be discovered.
The UK offers a host of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples which illustrate not only an incredible religious history but also multicultural diversity. Simply steeped in heritage! Explore the UK from the perspective of its religious houses. This itinerary focuses on Christian heritage but there is a wealth of Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh faith connections to also investigate. You tell us your priority and focus (on a specific faith or an overview of all) and SGT will create an itinerary to especially suit your specific interests.
"Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves..." This sceptred isle, set in a silver sea, has long depended upon its prowess as a maritime power. History records that, in the context of its time, it was the greatest maritime power ever. But in addition to the great fighting ships and traditions established by Nelson, Penn and Jellicoe, Britain's maritime past is rich with other seafaring traditions. It has been a nation of sea going explorers - Cabot, Raleigh, Drake and Cook. It has been a nation of pirates and privateers, real and imaginary - Captain Kidd, Henry Morgan and Long John Silver. It's also been home to unnamed smugglers and 'wreckers'. It once boasted the world's largest commercial marine fleet. It was, and still to some extent is, a nation of fishermen plying their trade from a hundred ports and harbours.
In Search of The Pilgrim Fathers, The Mayflower 400, 1620 - 2020
A drive through New England USA bears witness to the origins of the earliest European settlers of America. The names of “the pilgrim fathers” are remembered, as are the towns and villages of “the olde world.” This tour is a voyage to discover the circumstances that drove those people who left England for an uncertain future in a far-off land, in search of freedom, and what they left behind.
This is an opportunity to introduce visitors to the lovely yet often overlooked corner of Eastern England. We will discover Tudor heritage, some beautiful stately homes and some timeless country villages. Join this trip through the shires of Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex and Lincolnshire.
For some Americans it's a journey into their own past, their personal heritage. For others, it’s a chance to seek out the real history underneath the fairytales, the truths not explored in the textbooks.
We invite guests to also consider taking this Mayflower tour’s companion trip, Celebrating Native American Tribes of New England. There is also the 6 day Maritime Britain tour to consider, which features time in England's Southwest region including Plymouth, where the Mayflower set sail for America.