We check in to the Bridgewood Manor Hotel in the afternoon. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager.
Monday: Leeds Castle & Rochester Cathedral or Godinton House
We visit the magnificent Leeds Castle, a quintessential moated castle set in 500 acres of glorious parkland, where we learn about its fascinating history on a private guided tour. Dating back to the 12th century, it was once home to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. The castle’s last private owner was Lady Baillie, an Anglo-American heiress who lovingly restored the castle to its former glory.
If you’re joining us in May, we continue to historic Rochester. Boasting ancient buildings including an imposing castle, the town was a favourite of Charles Dickens who based many of his novels in the area. The city also has a lovely cathedral dating back to AD604 and we enjoy a guided tour here.
If you’re joining us in June, our next stop is Godinton House, a delightful Jacobean house incorporating a medieval hall and ornate carvings which we discover on our guided tour, followed by afternoon tea. Godinton is a much-loved home where each room reflects the tastes of those who have lived here with an excellent collection of furniture and art.
After dinner this evening, we enjoy an interesting themed talk from a guest speaker.
Tuesday: Doddington Place Gardens & Provender
Our day starts with a guided tour of Doddington Place Gardens, beautiful landscaped gardens set in the grounds of an impressive Victorian mansion. The glorious woodland garden is spectacular in May and June and includes many different varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas. There is also a formal sunken garden with herbaceous borders and extensive lawns and avenues framed by clipped yew hedges.
Afterwards we visit Provender, home of Princess Olga Romanoff, daughter of Prince Andrew Romanoff, the eldest nephew of the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Dating back to the 13th century, Provender is a fascinating record of English building traditions over seven centuries. Recent restoration has revealed a wealth of historical and architectural detail which we discover on our exclusive tour, led by the princess herself.
Wednesday: Hever Castle & Chiddingstone Castle
We head to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, where we enjoy a private guided tour. Dating back to the late 13th century, this double-moated castle is home to various historic artefacts including Tudor portraits and furniture, as well as two prayer books inscribed by Anne Boleyn.
We continue to Chiddingstone Castle where we enjoy a private guided tour of this unique property. Set in 35 acres of beautiful grounds, Chiddingstone houses the collections of the late antiquarian Denys Eyre Bower including stunning Japanese lacquer, Ancient Egyptian treasures, Stuart paintings and Jacobite manuscripts. After our tour we enjoy tea and cake in the tranquil courtyard before exploring the grounds.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel for our journey home.