8 Days – $2,500
Final Payment due by May 1, 2017
We may be biased, but we think our Country House tour itinerary is brilliant, offering nine of England’s best stately homes, ranging from ruins to showplaces, dating from the Norman Conquest to the Edwardian Era, all presented within a leisurely itinerary. We’ve arranged private tours at most properties and have scheduled our days at Chatsworth House to coincide with the dates when it’s closed to the general public. Guided garden tours will include talks on the works of both Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton. Once we check in to our hotel in Buxton, the rest of the tour will be taken as day trips, via luxury coach.
- Visits to Wentworth Woodhouse, Sutton Scarsdale, Sudbury Hall, Calke Abbey, Kedleston Hall, Hardwicke Hall, Haddon Hall, Chatsworth House and Tatton Park.
- Afternoon Tea at Tatton Park
- Guided walking tour of Buxton
- Guided walking tour of Edensor
In the afternoon, we’ll check into the Old Hall Buxton Hotel, our base for the next six days. This elegant hotel dates from 1573 and is said to be the oldest hotel in England, once visited by Mary Queen of Scots. The Hotel is located within walking distance of many of Buxton’s points of interest, including the Opera House and Pavilion Gardens. After check-in, our local guide will take us on guided walking tour of Buxton’s highlights.
This afternoon finds us at Grade I listed Calke Abbey, known as the “unstately stately home.” The house was owned by the Harpur family for nearly 300 years, but entered a state of decline beginning in the 1880’s until it was finally passed to the National Trust in 1985 in lieu of death duties. Today, many of its rooms are deliberately displayed in the state in which the house was handed to the Trust. A massive amount of remedial work but no restoration has been done and interiors remain almost as they were found in 1985. Since then, remedial work has been done, but no restoration, so that the decay to the building and its interiors has been halted but not reversed. This is our opportunity to see a property in the original state in which many of England’s treasure houses stood when handed over to the National Trust. After our tour of the house, there will be plenty of time for us to explore the brew house tunnel, kitchen garden and Orangery, as well as time for tea or lunch in the restaurant on-site if you desire
Upon our return to Buxton, you will have time to explore the charming spa town before dinner this evening at our hotel.
Afterwards, we’ll head to Grade I listed Hardwick Hall, the Elizabethan country house created by Bess of Hardwick in the 1500s, known today for it’s collection of fine Elizabethan furnishings and it’s important examples of needlework, including the large set of embroideries known as ‘the noble women.’ This is a set of four (originally five) hangings that all take their subject matter from worthy heroines and their virtues. After Bess’s death in 1608, the house passed to her son William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire. His great-grandson, William, was created 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1694. The Devonshires made another of Bess’s great houses, Chatsworth, their principal seat, with Hardwick used only occasionally for hunting and as a sometime dower house, thus escaping modernization from its original form. Our tour of the Hall will be followed by a guided tour of the gardens including the walled courtyards, the fragrant herb garden, fruitful orchards and sweeping lawns. There will also be time for you to explore the park or to have lunch in the Great Barn Restaurant if you wish.
After lunch, we will visit Haddon Hall, the stunning 12th century medieval manor house that is home to Lord and Lady Edward Manners and which has appeared as a setting in many films, including as Prince Humperdinck’s castle in The Princess Bride. The banqueting hall with minstrel’s gallery, the kitchens and parlour date from 1370, and the St. Nicholas Chapel was completed in 1427. The Hall was occupied by the family until the 17th Century, after which it lay dormant from 1700 until the 1920s, when the 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland restored the house and gardens while maintaining the historical integrity of the Hall. Outdoors, we’ll view the terraced gardens and admire the many peacocks, emblem of the Manners Family, who live on the estate.
We’ll then take a five minute walk to Chatsworth House, crossing over the iconic bridge for a breathtaking view of the House before embarking on a private guided Garden Tour. The 105 acre gardens at Chatsworth are full of surprises with waterworks, sculptures and a wide variety of plants on show. Our guide will share with us the hidden stories and history of the gardens, including the famed glasshouses built by Joseph Paxton. A picnic lunch will be served in the gardens, after which you will be free to explore the grounds on your own and to visit the Chatsworth farmyard, where you’ll find sheep, horses, pigs, cows and, of course, the Duchess’s famous chickens.
Upon arrival, we’ll be greeted by Mr. New and Mrs. Cork, the “butler” and “housekeeper” at Tatton, who will take us on a guided tour of the Mansion, including the first floor, usually closed to visitors. Below stairs we will gain a striking picture of the number of servants and level of domestic management necessary to run such a large establishment. We’ll see the contrast between the richness and grandeur of the State Apartments, the more intimate family rooms and the utilitarian servant’s quarters and cellars. Afterwards, there will be time to explore the gardens and grounds before we are served a traditional Afternoon Tea in the bucolic setting of the former Gardener’s Cottage, taken outdoors if the weather is fine.
Leaving Tatton Park, we return to the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel, where we will close the tour with a farewell dinner this evening.
- 2 Nights at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel
- 6 Nights at the Buxton Old Hall Hotel
- Full English breakfast each day
- Dinner at our hotel each evening
- Lunch at Chatsworth House on both days
- Afternoon Tea at Tatton Park
- Services of an expert tour guide throughout the tour
- Private coach transportation on travel days
- Entry or admission fees to all venues