We check in to the Mercure Bowden Hall Hotel in the afternoon. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager followed by a three-course evening meal.
Monday: Scenic drive through the Cotswolds, Stanway & Sezincote
We enjoy a scenic drive through the Cotswolds, passing through the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water and the beautiful market town of Stow-on-the-Wold.
We continue on to Stanway, a fine example of a Jacobean manor house built from mellow Cotswold stone, where we enjoy morning refreshments and a private guided tour. Home to the Earls of Wemyss, the house is noted for its beautiful architecture including Jacobean mullions and gables, and its furniture, much of which has been in the house since it was made. The house is surrounded by ancient parkland and an 18th-century water garden, one of the finest in England, with a cascade and pyramid folly, a single-jet fountain (at 300ft the highest fountain in Britain), and the tallest gravity fountain in the world.
Afterwards we visit Sezincote, where we enjoy a private guided tour of this unique and exotic palace, set at the heart of a traditional, family-run estate. In the early 1800s, Charles Cockerell, who had worked for the East India Company, commissioned his architect brother, Samuel, to design and build an Indian house in the Mogul style of Rajasthan. Assisted by the artist Thomas Daniell, the result is a unique combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture with a weathered-copper onion dome, minarets and curving orangery while outside is a romantic landscape of temples, grottoes and waterfalls designed by Humphry Repton.
In the evening we enjoy a three-course dinner and an interesting themed talk from a guest speaker.
Tuesday: Owlpen Manor & Frampton Court Estate
Home to the Mander family, Owlpen Manor is widely recognised as one of England’s most romantic Tudor manor houses. Dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, the manor was saved from ruin in 1926 by the Cotswold Arts and Crafts architect Norman Jewson. The manor contains a series of unique painted textiles, Mander family portraits and a representative collection of Cotswold Arts and Crafts furniture, all of which we discover on our exclusive guided tour. The formal terraced gardens boast magnificent yew topiary, old roses and box parterres. We follow our tour with a light lunch.
please note for the tour departing August 12th, the visit to Owlpen Manor will be replaced with a private guided tour and lunch at Berkeley Castle.
We continue on to Frampton Court Estate, owned by the Clifford family since the 11th century. We have free time to wander through the manor garden with its mature herbaceous borders, topiary, wild flower garden and magnificent kitchen garden and orchard, before enjoying a private guided tour of Frampton Court. Built of fine Bath stone between 1730 and 1733, the house displays a magnificent mixture of Baroque and Palladian architectural styles while the lavish interiors are home to exquisite wood panelling and a fine collection of period furniture and china.
This evening, we enjoy a three-course dinner back at the hotel.
Wednesday: Rodmarton Manor & Chavenage House
We take a scenic drive via the charming Cotswold town of Painswick to Rodmarton Manor, one of the last country houses to be built and furnished according to the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Ernest Barnsley and the Cotswold group of Craftsmen took over 20 years to build and furnish the house and were responsible for the revival of many traditional crafts in the Cotswolds which were in danger of dying out. Most of the wonderful furniture on display was made especially for the house which we discover on our exclusive private guided tour.
In the afternoon we travel to Chavenage House, an Elizabethan era manor house constructed of grey Cotswold stone and largely unchanged for 400 years, where we are treated to an exclusive guided tour by a member of the family. The house has a rich history and many Civil War associations including the rooms where Cromwell stayed and an interior packed with stunning period furniture, historic tapestries and fascinating relics from the Cromwellian era. Chavenage has also been used as a film location including for the hugely successful Poldark TV series. After our tour, we enjoy afternoon tea.
We return to our hotel for a three-course dinner.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel for our journey home.