Blossoms, blooms, wonderful scenery in the English couty of Sussex plus a full day at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show
8 days from London
Welcome to London! Today is free so you have the chance to relax, recover from your international journey and go sightseeing in the capital as you wish.
As this is a custom trip, choose to have optional airport transfers or make your own way.
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. Their included multi-media personal Ipod Touch tour guide brings hundreds of years of British history to life – literary at your fingertips! Avoid the queues/lines and pre-book your tickets via us. We can also assist you with pre-booking The Tower of London tickets too, if you wish or how about the Royal Palaces Pass? Heaps of options, ask us for full details. London has a wide array of public parks and gardens of all shapes and sizes plus an interesting Gardening Museum. What to do? The choice is yours!
We depart London at 09:00 and head directly south, using a rare bit of the motorway driving to speed our way into the beautiful landscapes of Sussex.
We begin our gardens adventure with a world famous property, Nymans. Created by Ludwig Messel in the late 1800s and developed by family generations since, Nymans is a garden lover's delight featuring a series of gardens within a garden, from dazzling herbaceous borders to the romantic Italianate loggia.
Later, a quaint local garden Sussex Prairie Gardens. Owners/gardeners Paul and Pauline McBride are keen to emphasize the beauty and wonder of perennial planting and to demonstrate the longer season benefits of perennials and grasses in ‘dream combinations’ in their 6 acre gem. The plantings consist of large groupings of each variety, planted in a free flowing style, contrasting leaf forms, stems, stalks, flower shapes and textures.
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. This will be our base for these next few days.
Stay: Lewes area, Sussex
Property Suggestions include: The Shelleys, Pelham House Hotel or similar http://www.the-shelleys.co.uk/
Sheffield Park Gardens was originally laid out by ‘Capability’ Brown in the late 1700s and has since had several additions. Currently four lakes form the heart of the garden, with paths circulating through the glades and wooded areas surrounding them. Sheffield Park is home to the National Collection of Ghent azaleas. The property, mentioned in the Domesday Book, has been used for many things throughout the centuries including a deer park and a WWII camp.
Tour into neighboring Kent and see the fabulous Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson's world famous garden. Explore this intimate and intricate garden and to visit those parts of her home open to the public. Here 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!
Later, as we have available time to round out the day, there are a variety of choices to consider. There are several quaint local villages to explore, perhaps some photo ops of medieval architecture or a short visit to Rudyard Kipling’s home and quaint cottage garden. Spoilt for choice!
Stay: Lewes, same property as above
Another gem planted by a well known horticulturalist is Great Dixter, once the home of Christopher Lloyd. He designed the stunning gardens based on the Arts & Crafts style framework plan made by his father and Sir Edwin Lutyens. Enjoy the variety of plantings, including the peacock topiary, wild meadow flowers, mixed borders, the famous Long Border, ponds and the exuberant Exotic Garden. Here too is the largest surviving timber-framed halls in the country.
Our next garden is 11 acres and winner of the Historic Homes Assn/Christie's Garden Of The Year Award. Mr and Mrs James Sellick are the owners and inhabitants of Pashley Manor, a Grade I listed timber-framed house, dating from 1550 and enlarged in 1720. See this Romantic English landscape framed by fine old trees, fountains and ponds, with the unusual Tudor/Georgian manor house, a private family home, as the backdrop. There are lovely views of the surrounding countryside to enjoy.
Stay: Lewes, same property as above
‘Bloomsbury Group in Sussex’ is on our agenda today, homes and gardens with a literary connection! 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.’
The gardens of Charleston Farm are of the Arts and Crafts style infused with an Italian flair and certainly reflect the originality of its owners. This is 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. Vanessa Bell described her creation as “a dithering blaze of flowers and butterflies and apples…!”
Stay: Lewes, same property as above
Spoilt for choice on this very full final day in Sussex! Wakehurst Place is a National Trust site managed by Kew Gardens, sometimes called “Kew’s Country Estate,” and will be our main visit. It is set in 465 acres and boasts ornamental gardens, temperate woodlands, a nature reserve, lakes, formal gardens, an Elizabethan house (five unfurnished rooms) and the 21st-century architecture of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank. Wakehurst marked an international conservation milestone in 2010, having conserved seeds from ten per cent of the world's plant species.
Should we manage additional time before making our way into West London, there are two small gems right around the bend - Borde Hill, called 'one of the country's truly great gardens' by Country Life magazine, and High Beeches, a woodland garden of 27 acres.
Stay: West London
Property Suggestions: Richmond Hill Hotel, Kew Gardens Hotel or similar http://www.richmondhill-hotel.co.uk/ https://www.kewgardenshotel.com/
HAMPTON COURT PALACE & RHS FLOWER SHOW
A full day to enjoy Henry VIII’s masterpiece Hampton Court Palace, the sumptuous backdrop for the largest annual flower show! You’ll have ample time to explore the castle interiors, the grounds and gardens as well as the special flower & plant displays, marketplaces and workshops of the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.
Along with the Tudor Kitchens, Henry VIII's State Apartments are the most popular attraction inside the palace. The Great Hall is the palace's largest and most impressive room, with an ornate carved-wood ceiling and a collection of Flemish tapestries that date back over 500 years. Hampton Court Palace is set in over 60 acres of gardens and parklands along the scenic River Thames. You won’t want to miss the Great Vine, planted by ‘Capability’ Brown, the rose gardens, Privy Gardens inspired by William of Orange, the Tiltyard and the famous Yew tree hedge Maze. There is one of the few ‘real’ tennis courts to be seen here too!
One transfer will be provided to Hampton Court in the morning and one transfer back to your hotel in the evening. You are welcomed to come and go from the show as you please using public transport. Your ticket to the flower show is valid from opening until closing.
Stay: West London, same property as above
We have even more world class gardens right on our doorstep! The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a lavish 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kew offers the largest indoor glasshouse space in the UK and is home to the world's largest collection of living plants, more than 30,000 different kinds! After an orientation chat with your tour guide, you're free to experience the highlights of this wonderful property independently - see your choice of the Alpine gardens, Japanese gardens, The Great Pagoda, Treetop Walkway and Kew Palace. Perhaps stop in the Orangery for a nice bite during your time here too!
As the flagship garden of the RHS, Wisley captures the imagination. Gifted to the Society in 1903, Wisley has evolved over time into a 240 acre spectacular. Explore the rock garden, alpine garden, wild garden, formal rose courtyards and all that this wonderful place has to offer! Its state-of-the-art glasshouse showcases a world class plant collection. The 'cathedral-like' structure features three climatic zones recreating tropical, moist and dry temperate habitats. Entering the glasshouse is like walking into a jungle, it is filled with tree ferns, tall palms, lush-leaved creepers, dazzling flower displays and a waterfall. Experience 'The World Under Glass' seeing many species internationally classified as rare, vulnerable or endangered. Another indoor space at Wisley is the Alpine Display Gardens, featuring a huge selection of alpine plants from around the globe.
Stay: West London, same property as above
Your package includes breakfast at your hotel this morning then concludes. There is the option of airport transfers or guests may choose to extend their stay in London dependently.
Prefer to stay on in London? Optional tour add-ons in London are also available for a supplemental fee including airport transfers, additional nights London accommodation, “Big Bus” tickets, London transport passes, London city tours or private touring extensions visiting some of the glorious London area gardens such as Syon House, Kenwood and more. Please discuss options with us!
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.
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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!
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