We check in to the Jurys Inn Cheltenham in the afternoon. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager.
Monday: Worcester Cathedral & Kiftsgate Court Garden
Today we travel to Worcester Cathedral where we enjoy a guided tour. Built between 1084 and 1504, the cathedral represents every style of English architecture from Norman to Perpendicular Gothic and boasts royal tombs, medieval cloisters, a Norman crypt and magnificent Victorian stained glass. We then enjoy a little free time in the city where you will be able to purchase lunch.
We then travel to Kiftsgate Court Gardens, set on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment with lovely views towards the Malvern Hills. The gardens are the creation of three generations of women gardeners, started by Heather Muir in the 1920s. Developed organically with harmonious colour schemes, the gardens have many unusual shrubs and plants and are known for the Kiftsgate rose, a scented climbing rose claimed to be the largest rose in Britain.
After dinner this evening, we enjoy an interesting themed talk from a guest speaker.
Tuesday: Eastnor Castle & Bromesberrow Place
Our day begins at Eastnor Castle, lying at the foot of the Malvern Hills and surrounded by a beautiful deer park, arboretum and lake. On arrival, we enjoy morning coffee before our private guided tour. This 19th-century revival castle was built by the 2nd Baron (Lord) Somers and continues to be inhabited by his descendants, the Hervey-Bathurst family. The richly decorated interiors feature an eclectic mix of styles including Gothic Revival and Renaissance and the magnificent State Rooms are home to collections of medieval armour, fine art and tapestries.
Next we visit Bromesberrow Place where we enjoy lunch, a private guided tour and a talk about the history of the house. This Regency Greek Revival house has a fascinating social history as it was owned by David Ricardo and boasts a special collection of English Sporting Art. The house was originally set within 100 acres of parkland however in 1993 this was extended by a further 100 acres.
Wednesday: Ragley Hall & Spetchley Park Gardens
Ragley Hall is one of England’s earliest and finest Palladian mansions. Built for the 1st Earl of Conway in 1680, the Hall is the ancestral family home of the 9th Marquess of Hertford. The State Rooms are adorned with impressive art, ceramics and furniture and other features include the elaborately plastered Great Hall and stunning 20th-century mural The Temptation, all of which we discover on our guided tour. Outside are well-maintained formal gardens within beautiful ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland. After our tour, we enjoy mid-morning tea and biscuits.
In the afternoon, we visit Spetchley Park Gardens. The legacy of the Berkeley family, these 30 acres of beautiful Victorian gardens, surrounded by ancient parkland and lakes, have remained largely unaltered in the last century and boast an enviable collection of plants from across the globe. The gardens offer a wonderful contrast; from formal to informal and quintessentially English to unmistakably Mediterranean, which we learn about on our guided tour.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel for our journey home.