We check in to the Double Tree by Hilton Oxford Belfry Hotel in the afternoon. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager.
Tuesday: Sulgrave Manor & Stowe House
American history is brought to life this morning as we enjoy a guided tour of Sulgrave Manor, a Tudor manor house built in the mid-1500s by Lawrence Washington, five times great grandfather of George Washington, first President of the United States. Discover how Civil War, financial ruin, and a shipwreck led to Washington’s great-grandfather seeking a fresh start in the New World. Restored and opened to the public in 1921, Sulgrave was presented to the people of Britain and the USA as a memorial of their common inheritance.
We continue on to Stowe House, where we enjoy lunch before exploring this incredible house. In the 18th century, the powerful Temple-Grenville family chose to create an idyllic landscape filled with temples. Amidst these gardens (now the famous Stowe Landscape Gardens), they built the lavish Stowe House which reflected their flamboyant characters with rooms imitating ancient worlds and classical ruins. Excessive spending led to bankruptcy and in 1922, Stowe School saved the building from certain destruction. Thanks to a pioneering restoration project, we can now see the beautifully restored State Rooms and discover fascinating stories of how scandal, intrigue and debt brought one of England’s richest families to its knees.
After dinner this evening, we enjoy an interesting themed talk from a guest speaker.
Wednesday: Stonor Park & Waddesdon Manor
We start the day at Stonor Park, situated in a valley in the Chiltern Hills. Home to the Stonor family for 850 years, it is one of the oldest family homes still inhabited today. The owners take us on a guided tour of the house which contains an impressive collection of art and artefacts amassed from across the globe. Highlights of the house also include the Gothic revival hall, atmospheric 17th-century library and dramatic long gallery opening on to beautiful Italianate gardens. Our tour also includes the chapel, built in the late 13th century on the site of a prehistoric Stone Circle.
This afternoon we head to Waddesdon Manor. Built to impress by the wealthy Rothschild family in the 1870s, Waddesdon is a renaissance-style chateau that looks as though it has been transported to the gentle English countryside from France’s Loire Valley, and filled with exceptional treasures and art collections. After our guided tour of the sumptuous interiors, we enjoy afternoon tea here.
Thursday: Oxford & Blenheim Palace
This morning we visit historic Oxford, known as the City of Dreaming Spires and famous seat of learning since the 12th century. On our guided walking tour, we discover the history of many of the city’s magnificent buildings including the colleges of the iconic Oxford University.
After enjoying lunch together in Oxford, we make our way to Blenheim Palace, designed on an awe-inspiring scale by Vanbrugh and set in beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. As the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, the palace is synonymous with the Churchill family and is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. A permanent exhibition commemorates the life of this famous wartime Prime Minister, whilst the magnificent State Rooms reveal a superb collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel for our journey home.
Please note: the itinerary order is subject to change.