Excursion One – Wrest Park, Cambridge & the Fitzwilliam Museum
Our first visit is to the beautiful country estate of Wrest Park. Here you have the choice of a guided tour of the Wallpaper Rooms or the Archaeological Collections Store. The former offers a unique peek inside the mansion house to explore the amazing wallpaper rooms which are rarely open to visitors including the stunning ‘Eldorado’ papers in the French Room and the intricate hand-painted papers in the Chinese Room. The latter is a treasure trove of unique and special objects spanning nearly 2,000 years of England’s history. Again, these objects are not usually on display to the public and the artefacts at Wrest Park add up to a third of English Heritage’s total stored collection. Afterwards we enjoy a light lunch in the dining room.
We then make our way to Cambridge. This fascinating university city is full of beautiful architecture, leafy green meadows and majestic college buildings. Here we visit the Fitzwilliam Museum. The art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge contains a vast collection of treasures from paintings and armour to ceramics, furniture, textiles, sculptures and manuscripts.
Excursion Two – Audley End House, Ely & Oliver Cromwell’s House
We start the day at Audley End where we enjoy a guided tour. Audley End is one of the finest Jacobean houses in England with an impressive great hall, magnificent state apartments and a carefully restored service wing which gives a glimpse of life ‘below stairs’. The tranquil gardens, created by ‘Capability’ Brown, include a serpentine lake and offer stunning views across the unspoilt Essex countryside. Other highlights include a beautifully restored parterre, walled garden and Victorian stable yard.
Next stop is Ely where we have time at leisure to explore this historic city. There’s also the opportunity to visit Oliver Cromwell’s House, the remarkably well-preserved 17th-century home where Cromwell lived with his family from 1636 to 1647. Here we enjoy a costumed guided tour which gives us a snapshot of the life and times of one of England’s most iconic and divisive men.
Excursion Three – The Flying Scotsman & Oundle
We head to Wansford where we board our train behind the magnificent locomotive Flying Scotsman for a picturesque, steam-hauled round trip journey on the Nene Valley Railway. With a journey time of approximately 70 minutes, we’ll travel along the beautiful Nene Valley, through a picturesque landscape of water meadows, arable farmland and a country park. The railway has featured in many films and TV series including the James Bond films Octopussy and Goldeneye.
Before returning to our hotel, we visit Oundle where we have free time for lunch. Occupied continuously since the Iron Age, this quintessentially English market town has many delightful limestone buildings and Georgian streetscapes while St Peter’s Church boasts the tallest spire in Northamptonshire.
Please note: the excursion order is subject to change.