You read the book - now have it come alive!
Explore Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset, Bath, South Wales, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Cotswolds & Oxford
12 days from London
Why not travel on this special tour with members of your book club?
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.
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
Chaucer’s mediaeval city of Canterbury will be our first stop. Nearby is the former home of Jane Austen’s brother, Goodnestone Park. We can 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.
Time permitting, we could als visit Broadstairs, inspiration for Bleak House and home to an annual Dickens Festival in June. All in all, another fantastic day!
NIGHT STOP: Kent, Sevenoaks or Cranbrook, same property as above
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
Today spend time around '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 among other places of interest.
NIGHT STOP: Dorchester area
Today is our day to be totally immersed in Thomas Hardy’s world, far from the madding crowd. We can visit Hardy Cottage plus some of the towns and villages that are easily recognizable as the source of inspiration. We can particularly seek out one or two of the smaller villages with a timeless Dorsetshire air to them. In Dorchester itself, walk the streets and see Stinsford Church.
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 area, same property as above
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. Visit Coleridge’s House and perhaps 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. See the mysterious Tor and explore the legends of King Arthur and ancient fairies.
NIGHT STOP: Bath
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.
NIGHT STOP: Bath, same property as above
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.
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. If there's time, we may also catch a glimpse of the area where 'Harry Potter' author JK Rowling grew up.
NIGHT STOP: Bridgend/Gower
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. The city of Swansea is another option, time permitting, to explore a few other legends of Welsh literature including the great Celtic tradition that gave birth to the Arthurian legends.
NIGHT STOP: Bridgend/Gower, same property as above
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.
Basing in Stratford Upon Avon gives the opportunity of attending a play at the RSC, subject to schedules/ticket availability.
NIGHT STOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon
Our whole day will be spent in Stratford-Upon-Avon itself, so you have ample time to discover the charming town and Shakespeare connections. You’re spoilt for choice here – visit 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. You will have free time to wander the cobbled streets, shopping and relaxing as you wish. Your guide will be on hand for a possible walking tour, advice and assistance but the day is yours to spend as you decide.
NIGHT STOP: Stratford-Upon-Avon
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 can 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.’ So much to discover!
We can meander our way back into London via your choice of the Cotswolds villages OR the Thames Valley and Chiltern Hills. Choices include the pretty riverside town of Marlow where Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, John Milton’s Cottage or Stoke Poges, with the grave and monument to Thomas Grey, Elegy in a Country Churchyard. A lovely The End to our lovely literary adventure!
Arrive back into London this evening.
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.
Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.
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.
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