1918 – 2018, Centenary of the Representation of the People Act
10 days, London to Manchester
Great for School/Alumni groups!
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 in London and ends in Manchester.
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!
Central London – Westminster, Kensington, Chelsea, Brompton and Holland Park
Depart the London tour hotel at 09:00. Today will be a combination of vehicle and walking, following the trail of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and other notable British women. Along the way we’ll see London icons a plenty and enjoy an afternoon tea together! Explore popular tourist haunts and also some delightful neighborhoods off the usual tourist route.
In 1906, the WSPU, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters in their modest Manchester living room, relocated its headquarters from Manchester to London to establish greater visibility of their cause. They aimed to promote women's suffrage through 'Deeds not Words'. Their movement grew quickly, activists included Americans Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, who, after prominent participation with WSPU in England, returned to America and employed British tactics for the fight for women’s rights in the US.
During our London day see memorials, blue plaques, statues, former offices and homes and pay respects at Emmeline Pankhurst’s grave. As we’ll be exploring the core of Central London, our route will go past several major icons Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben, St James’ and Kensington Palace.
2018 is set to welcome the first female statue to Parliament Square, also the first designed by a female artist. Suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett is the subject, shown holding a sign that reads “Courage calls to courage everywhere”, taken from a speech she gave after the death of fellow campaigner Emily Wilding Davison at the 1913 Epsom Derby. The new statue is scheduled to be unveiled in February, 2018.
On our trail today, inspirational stories and places of interest for amazing women including Celtic Queen Boudica; the West End of Nell Gwyn, one of the first actresses; Kensington of Princess Diana and Queen Victoria; writer Mary Shelley and her mother, one of the first women’s rights activists, Mary Wollstonecraft; the Chelsea of varied personalities Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister, Victorian writer George Eliot, Mary Quant, inventor of the mini skirt, and punk designer Vivienne Westwood; the ‘godmother’ of nurses Florence Nightingale; learn what life was like in London during the Blitz and the brave women of the Home Guard and ambulance service, ladies including Queen Elizabeth II. Such a rich fabric is the story of London!
Enjoy an Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason together this afternoon! Fortnum & Mason, synonymous with London high quality since 1707 - see the store itself and dine in style with a traditional, quintessentially British Afternoon Tea. In 1926, this famous grocery store was transformed into a unique department store with a restaurant. The tradition of taking tea and that "little bit of something" between lunch and dinner had long been a feature of smart households, and in the Roaring Twenties at Fortnum’s, it was defined by a menu featuring the finest teas, delicate sandwiches and exquisite cakes. It remains the place for high society dining, an experience for you to discover yourself today!
This evening is opened to perhaps enjoy a night at the theatre independently. Fortnum is on the doorstep of London’s famous West End theatre district. SGT is happy to assist with tickets on an individual basis should anyone wish (theatre tickets subject to availability for the appropriate supplemental cost, not included in main package cost.)
Another full day around London - Bloomsbury, Brick Lane and Spitalfields, Islington, Camden Town and Hampstead Heath
Our day will include a short walk around the rich tapestry of East London and some highlights of North London, offering stunning views of the city. The East End, traditionally an immigrant area and now a centre for ‘hipster’ London, see a varied mix of cultures, street art and perhaps sample some amazing food stalls. Here discover more connections to Mary Wollstonecraft and the sad tales of those Victorian working women who fell to Jack the Ripper.
See where infamous prisons Newgate and Holloway were located and learn of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. See the neighborhood where Virginia Woolf and her artist sister Vanessa Bell called home, the driving force of the ‘Bloomsbury Group,’ social reforming artist and writers. Find out how Tudor Queen Mary got the nickname ‘Bloody Mary.’
During the day, explore Kenwood House, featuring breathtaking interiors and stunning world-class art collection set in the tranquil setting of Hamstead Heath. This was the home of Dido Belle, perhaps the first acknowledged aristocrat of mixed race heritage. Born into slavery in the Caribbean and raised free by distant relatives the Mansfields in London, she helped influence significant milestones in the abolitionist campaign.
The Museum of London documents the history of London from prehistoric to modern times. We will have a special look at their extensive Suffragette collection. Dedicated to those who campaigned tirelessly for over 50 years to achieve votes for women, the exhibition features iconic objects including Emmeline Pankhurst’s hunger strike medal. At the heart of the display is a powerful, newly commissioned film that highlights the personal story of lesser known Suffragettes and reflects on the contemporary relevance of the militant campaign that continues to inspire, shock and divide opinion.
Departing our London base, enjoy some time in Windsor this morning. 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 here was the setting for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle! Windsor was also a favourite town for Nell Gywn, who lived just outside the palace grounds to be near her love Charles II.
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.
Later we will make the way to our accommodation via the peaceful riverside town of Marlow, where Mary Shelley lived for a time and completed her most famous work, Frankenstein.
ON Hampshire, Oakley Hall or similar
The Manor House in Upton Grey was purchased by Rosamund Wallinger over 30 years ago when she discovered, under the unkempt ‘jungle’ of a garden, that Gertrude Jekyll had originally designed the property grounds in 1908. Rosamund herself became a gardener and took up the challenge of recreating what is now believed to be the most complete and authentic Jekyll garden in existence - a living museum of Jekyll design. Our group will have a private chat with the owner followed by free time to explore (subject to availability based on your chosen travel dates.)
By special appointment, 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.)
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.
ON Hampshire, Oakley Hall or similar
Today see 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, the BBC series of Cranford and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Later, 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!
ON Tetbury/Cirencester area
A full day as we make the way north today! 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.
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.
Sudley Castle is a place with connections running through the Tudor Dynasty, home to three queens and final resting place of Katherine Parr, the wife of Henry VIII who survived him. This place is where scandal left its impression on the young mind of the future Queen Elizabeth I. This lovely place offers seven enchanting gardens, amongst these is a Tudor Knot garden with water features and a delightful mosaic.
ON 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. With your guide and optional special visits, the focus can be on life as a woman in Tudor times.
By special appointment this morning, there is the option of a private group visit to your choice of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust or a special backstage tour of the RSC. (subject to availability based on your chosen travel dates.) Shakespeare Birthplace Trust cares for the world's largest collection of Shakespeare related material accessible by the public. The collection includes translations of the plays into over 80 languages, three First Folios and a range of important early printed books.
You’re spoilt for choice as to how to spend your day – visit the local church, burial place for the Bard, Shakespeare’s mother Mary Arden’s home with its bird of prey centre as well as the well-known iconic sites such as his Birthplace and Ann Hathaway’s Cottage. Wander the cobbled streets, shopping and relaxing as you wish. Your guide will be on hand for a walking tour, advice and assistance but the day is yours to spend as you decide. Your tour package includes a Shakespeare Houses Visitor Pass.
Evenings in Stratford-Upon-Avon provide the opportunity, dependent upon schedules, to attend the theatre at the RSC. There’s a wonderful viewing tower and highly rated restaurant so worth a visit even if not attending a performance! See what’s on at the RSC: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/
ON Stratford Upon Avon
Another full day exploring lovely countryside and connections to amazing women! Much of today and tomorrow will be spent exploring the Peak District and the magnificent Pennine Hills scenery. Here, where the dry-stone walls make criss-cross patterns of the sheep covered hills; discover ancient customs and amazing stately homes. Dependent on weather and participant interest, our touring options can include the town of Hathersage, known as “Morton” in Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre. The town itself is an attractive, prosperous gritstone village of charm and character, perched rather picturesquely on a hillside. Another possibility is Ashbourne, a town with connections to both Dr Johnson, author of the very first dictionary, and George Eliot, who described the church as “the finest mere parish church in the entire kingdom.” This whole area is well known to film crews, capturing real places of inspiration for classic literature.
Learn of the amazing ladies of the Hardwick family at Hardwick Hall, a stunning gem of a home with lovely gardens. The matriarch Bess of Hardwick was perhaps the most important Tudor woman after Queen Elizabeth I. Also ‘meet’ other family members Arbella Stuart, the granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick and niece to Mary Queen of Scots; and Duchess Evelyn, the ‘Last Duchess of Hardwick.’
ON Bakewell/Buxton area, Peak District
The Duke of Devonshire’s stately home at Chatsworth, the real-life home of Georgina, The Duchess of Devonshire and said to have been the inspiration for Jane Austen as her ‘Pemberley’ is on our agenda in the Peak District. It was here that most of the exterior sequences for Pemberley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice were filmed as well as a few interiors including the sculpture gallery. This sprawling estate, a place that simply drips with opulence, is a highlight for many visitors!
This afternoon make the way into Manchester, the place ‘where suffrage began.’
Today is a full day around Manchester, following the heritage of The Pankhursts and the WSPU. During the day see Manchester Art Gallery, St Peter’s Square, where a massacre took place in 1819 when over 80,000 people gathered for voting rights; The Free Trade Hall where, in 1905, Christabel Pankhurst was arrested for waving a ‘Votes for Women’ flag during a political meeting. She was released when a young MP named Winston Churchill paid the fine.
Also today spend time in The Pankhurst Centre. Formerly the family home which was the birthplace of the suffragette movement.
Another visit is to writer Elizabeth Gaskell’s home and garden. This grade II listed building is full of interesting history, where Elizabeth wrote her famous works including Cranford, North & South, and Wives & Daughters. Notable visitors to Gaskell House included fellow writers Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin and American abolitionist and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner together at a top ‘woman helmed’ restaurant in Manchester. Options (subject to availability) include Menagerie, a unique dining experience featuring entertainment that is a combination of theatrical performance, a catwalk and aerial dancers; Sweet Mandarin, a long operating family restaurant currently run by sisters Helen and Lisa Tse or one of the Beautiful Drinks company locals such as Home Sweet Home.
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. Written in conjunction with Bruce Cherry.
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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