Excursion One – Chartwell & Down House
Our day begins with a visit to Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s beloved family retreat. Superlative views over the Weald of Kent combine with an evocative, homely interior full of the great statesman’s personal and political mementos, including an amazing collection of gifts he received from other world leaders. Hidden in the beautiful grounds is Churchill’s studio, hung with scores of his striking landscape paintings.
We continue on to Down House, home of scientist Charles Darwin and his family for 40 years. Several rooms have been recreated as they appeared when he lived here including the study where he wrote 'On the Origin of Species'. The house is surrounded by extensive gardens; which Darwin called his 'outdoor laboratory'.
Excursion Two – Hever Castle & Bateman’s
We head to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, where we enjoy an audio guided tour of this impressive location. Dating back to the late 13th century, this double-moated castle originated as a gatehouse and walled bailey and is home to various historic artefacts such as Tudor portraits and furniture, as well as two prayer books signed and inscribed by Anne Boleyn. The castle was lavishly restored and extended in the early 20th century by American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor. The spectacular gardens feature peaceful walks, two mazes and their own rose – the Hever Castle Rose.
17th-century Bateman’s so enchanted Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling when he discovered it, that he made it his home in 1902. With its stone-mullioned windows and Sussex oak beams, it’s a romantic retreat that has been left virtually untouched since Kipling’s tenure here. The tranquil gardens include an orchard, formal garden and a colourful wildflower meadow, through which a river flows.
Excursion Three – Leeds Castle & Godinton House
Our first visit today is to Leeds Castle, a quintessential moated castle set in 500 acres of glorious parkland. Dating back to the 12th century, it was once home to Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. The castle’s last private owner was Lady Baillie, an Anglo-American heiress who lovingly restored the castle to its former glory. We discover more of the castle’s fascinating history as well as its wealth of furnishings, paintings, tapestries and antiques on display.
Next we head to Godinton House, a delightful Jacobean house incorporating a medieval hall and ornate carvings. We start with a light lunch here before our guided tour. Godinton is a comfortable, much-loved home where each room reflects the tastes of those who have lived here over the centuries. Discover 600 years of history and an excellent collection of furniture, art, porcelain and curios. We also have time to explore the 12 acres of tranquil gardens, surrounded by ancient parkland.