We check in to the Mercure Letchworth Hall Hotel & Spa in the afternoon. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager followed by a three-course evening meal.
Friday: Bletchley Park & Woburn Abbey
We discover one of the most remarkable stories of World War Two as we visit Bletchley Park, where the ground breaking achievements of the famous code breakers provided crucial assistance to the Allied war effort. Our visit gives us an insight into the clandestine operations here, as well as free time to explore the code breaking huts with their fascinating galleries and exhibits. These include the largest and most comprehensive display of Enigma machines in the world.
Our second visit is to Woburn Abbey, family home of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford. Originally a monastery, Woburn Abbey was given by Edward VI to the Russell family in 1547. Since then, several leading architects of their day have helped create the stunning historic house we see today. We explore nearly 500 years of one family’s history on our guided tour as well as discover a unique art collection, a treasury of silver, porcelain and fine English and French furniture. After our tour, we enjoy afternoon tea here.
In the evening we enjoy a three-course dinner and an interesting themed talk from a guest speaker.
Saturday: St Paul’s Walden Bury & Knebworth House
This morning we visit St Paul’s Walden Bury, a traditional country estate in the heart of the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside and the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Here we explore the celebrated 18th-century landscaped garden, a spectacular formal woodland garden with long avenues leading to temples, statues, lake and ponds, and beautiful flower gardens.
We continue on to Knebworth House where we enjoy a guided tour. Set in 250 acres of rolling countryside, Knebworth has been home to the Lytton family since 1490, with its most famous resident being the Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The romantic exterior with its turrets, domes and gargoyles, conceals a red brick house dating back to Tudor times. Every generation of the Lytton family has left its mark, making Knebworth an extraordinary walk through 500 years of British history. Stories and heirlooms reflect the family’s contribution to literature, politics and Foreign Service, plus visits from the likes of Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill.
This evening, we enjoy a three-course dinner back at the hotel.
Sunday: Syon Park & St Albans
Today we visit Syon Park, the spectacular London home of the Duke of Northumberland. Built in the 16th century, it has been in the family of the present owners for more than 400 years, and is the last surviving ducal residence complete within its country estate in Greater London. The Tudor mansion was remodelled by Robert Adam for the first Duke in the 1760s and on our special guided tour, we view the magnificent State and Private Apartments including the Great Hall with its decorative stucco work and the State Dining Room with its ornate Corinthian columns and marble statues. The house also holds a wealth of art within its grand classical interiors. We enjoy refreshments after our tour as well as free time to view the gardens.
En-route back to the hotel, we enjoy some time at leisure in St Albans. This cathedral city has a wealth of remarkable heritage from over 2,000 years of human occupation including Roman remains and beautiful medieval architecture.
We return to our hotel for a three-course dinner.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel for our journey home.