Gardens of Southern England
|From the splendor of Sissinghurst, truly a magical peaceful garden, to the formal delights of Hampton Court Place, our trip will include great landscaped gardens designed by Capability Brown, to the neatness and skills of the great Victorian garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. From water gardens to rose gardens to arboretums this tour will fulfil all who have an interest in stately homes, the gardens, the design and the plants and trees that go together to form the breathtaking beauty that we will experience.
Our trip will end in London and whilst there we will visit the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. There is still something of the private garden about Kew, secure behind high brick walls and the ha-ha which separated it from the River Thames. The mother of King George 111 started the gardens in 1759. In 1841 the garden was presented to the nation. The 300 acres, which offer unrivalled beauty and tranquility, will be one of the highlights of your trip.
Overnight from North America to London.
Arrive early morning London to be met by your tour director and driver. Onward to the spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells, where we will be staying for the first two nights. From its humble beginnings in1606, with the discovery of a bubbling spring, the town grew to a fashionable spa resort. Royalty and gentry were among the many visitors who came to taste the allegedly health-giving waters. There is an opportunity now to rest and explore the town, the afternoon is yours. This evening, please join us at a welcome reception and overview of tour.
After breakfast this morning we drive to Sissinghurst, the gardens of which were planned and executed by Vita Sackville-West in the 1920's. Her design and knowledge of plants and their colors has a produced a group of 10 of the most famous and visited gardens in the world.
Following lunch we return to Groombridge Place Gardens just outside Tunbridge Wells. Groombridge Place has an intriguing history stretching back to medieval times. Flanked by a medieval moat, with a 17th century manor house as a backdrop, the beautiful formal gardens boast a rich variety of separate gardens with extensive herbaceous borders. High above the walled gardens lies the Enchanted Forest, where magic and fantasy await visitors.
2nd night in Tunbridge Wells.
Leaving Tunbridge Wells after breakfast our route this morning takes us southwest towards Haywards Heath and the National Trust garden at Handcross. One of the great gardens of the Sussex Weald, with rare and beautiful plants, shrubs and trees from all over the world. You will find here garden 'rooms' for all, from walled to sunken to romantic ruins to a pinetum, laurel and wild garden walks.
Our hotel for the next three nights is in the Hampshire City of Winchester
'There are not many finer spots in England then Winchester. Here are hill, dell, water, meadows, woods and cornfields, downs and all of them are very fine and beautiful'
(William Corbett, 1830)
The Abbey and Garden at Mottisfont form the central point of an 809 ha estate which inludes the village of Mottisfont, farmland and woods. A tributary of the River Test flows through the garden forming a superb and tranquil setting for a 12th century Augustinian priory. The magnificent trees, walled gardens and the National Collection of old-fashioned roses, offer a garden for all seasons.
After lunch we will return to Winchester for a tour of this city first founded by the Romans in 68AD; it was also the first seat of government under the early Norman Kings.
There are many delightful parts of this city to explore including the garden route.
2nd night in Winchester.
After breakfast we drive to Ampfield, the former home and garden of Sir Harold Hillier. These beautiful 184-acre gardens are home to one of the best 20th century collections of plants to be found anywhere in the world. They were begun by Harold Hillier in 1953 and now have earned the plaudits of 'a garden for all seasons'
3rd night in Winchester
Today we visit the National Trust property at Stourhead; our route takes us past the 4,000-year-old stone circle at Stonehenge.
Stourhead is an outstanding example of the English landscape style; this splendid garden was designed by Henry Hoare and laid out between 1741 and 1780. Classical temples, including the Pantheon and Temple of Apollo, are sited around the central lake at the end of a series of vistas, which change as you move around the paths and through the mature woodland. An intriguing redbrick folly built in 1772 is almost 150 feet high; it gives breathtaking views over the estate. Leaving Stourhead we drive to Salisbury via Shaftesbury.
Before we leave for London this morning, we will have a few of hours to view the cathedral. Built between 1220/1258, it is the only medieval cathedral in England to be completely built throughout in the same early English style, it also boasts the tallest spire in England. The Chapter House contains one of the four surviving originals of the Magna Carta.
Arriving in London, we spend time this afternoon on a site seeing tour of this fascinating city first settled by the Romans. Our route takes us past St Paul's Cathedral, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Westminster.
Hotel tonight in central London.
Boarding our boat at Charing Cross Pier we sail up the River towards Hampton Court Palace. The splendor of Cardinal Wolsey's house, begun in 1514, surpasses that of many other palaces. It was not surprising that Henry V111 at first coveted, then obtained it prior to Wolsey's fall from favor.
The Palace is set in 60 acres of beautiful Tudor, Baroque and Victorian gardens, featuring the famous maze, and the great vine, the oldest and largest grapevine, believed planted in 1768, by Capability Brown.
Within its five hundred years of Royal history it has been, enlarged by Henry V111, rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and opened to the public by Queen Victoria, the palace therefore offers some of the finest combined architecture in Britain.
2nd night in London
Today we will visit the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew. There is still something of a private garden at Kew, secured behind high brick walls with a ha-ha separating it from the River Thames. Princess Augusta, the mother of George 111, started the gardens in 1759. Its 300 acres of unrivaled beauty and tranquility is an ideal setting for the end of your trip.
3rd night in London
Final dinner together as a group.
Transfer to London airport for return flight to North America.