Castles and Houses of Kent
There can’t be many tours that feature references to such a diverse range of characters as this - Charles Darwin, Sir Winston Churchill, Henry VIII and Sir Cliff Richard! The county of Kent is overflowing with historical castles and houses which we will explore and learn all about the characters associated with them.
First up is Down House, where Charles Darwin lived, worked and wrote his seminal work ‘On the Origin of Species’. We continue with visits to Penshurst Place, whose Baron’s Hall dates to 1341 and which was once used as a hunting lodge by Henry VIII, and Chartwell, the much-loved family home of Sir Winston Churchill from 1922 until 1964. In the evening we have a very special private tour of Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn, along with a private dinner. Leeds Castle also connections with Henry VIII as well as more recent figures such as Pavarotti and Sir Cliff Richard. A visit to Canterbury and an optional steam-train journey round off a fascinating tour of this historic county.
Your Departure date
£995 (including offers)
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- Save £75 with our Offer Discount.
Deposit: £125 Single supplement: £150
Day 1 -
We depart by coach and travel to Downe, to visit Down House. With its unique place in the history of science and evolution Down House was Charles Darwin’s family home and is a site of outstanding international significance.
On our private tour we step into the very rooms where Charles Darwin worked and lived, including the study where he wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’, and discover a fascinating exhibition about his work. Follow in the great scientist’s footsteps as you explore the award-winning gardens where he spent many hours making observations and conducting experiments that helped develop his ground-breaking theories. Meander down his ‘thinking path', stroll past bountiful vegetable patches and enjoy fragrant flower beds all surrounded by the tranquil countryside.
We continue by coach to Royal Tunbridge Wells, the spa town from which our hotel’s name is derived.
Day 2 -
Following breakfast, we travel a short distance to Penshurst Place and Gardens. Penshurst and the surrounding estate have stood in the historic village of Penshurst since the 14th century, when the awe-inspiring medieval Baron’s Hall was completed in 1341 as a country retreat for the Lord Mayor of London. The Baron’s Hall, crowned by an original 60ft high chestnut beamed ceiling is an unmissable sight for visitors to the ancestral home of the Sidney family who have taken care of the estate since 1552. We have a private tour of the stately home, once used as a hunting lodge for King Henry VIII, and now features opulent staterooms that have been showcased in popular TV and film productions. The Solar, Queen Elizabeth Room and Long Gallery to name but a few, contain a collection of beautiful family portraits from across the centuries, antique furniture, skilfully crafted tapestries and much, much more. There will also be time to explore the extensive gardens. Majestically surrounding the house, over one mile of yew hedging divides the Garden into a series of ‘rooms’, each with its own season and colour. Wander further afield and visit the Arboretum, Trout Lakes, Lake Park and Lancup Well.
We then depart for Chartwell, the family home and garden of Sir Winston Churchill. National Trust acquired Chartwell 18 years before Winston’s death. The Churchill family found the upkeep of such a large estate very expensive and allowed a group of businessmen to purchase it for £50,000 who then offered it the National Trust in 1946/47. Their one condition was that Winston and Clementine could continue to live there for as long as they wished. Chartwell had been the much loved home of the Churchill family since 1922. It was a playground for their youngest daughter and a treasured private country recluse for a very public man. Sir Winston reluctantly left Chartwell in October 1964 due to his poor health and moved to his London flat in Hyde Park Gate. He celebrated his 90th birthday on 30 November and died just a few weeks later on 24 January 1965. Apart from minor amendments and additions the house remains much the same as it was when it was originally opened for public viewing in 1966. It remains a great source of interest and enjoyment to this day.
In the early evening we travel to Hever Castle for a very special private tour of the castle followed by a welcome drink and an exclusive three course dinner in the Astor Wing. The Astor Wing, created in Tudor style is a private Edwardian Wing attached to Hever Castle, taking on the appearance of a Tudor Village. Arrive to the private gated entrance and enjoy the comfort and country house charm of this historic venue.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 3 -
After breakfast we depart for Leeds Castle for a tour of the castle and its grounds including a tour of the Upstairs to see the bedrooms not usually open to the public. Visit the rooms preferred by King Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson during their stays, and more recently by Pavarotti and Sir Cliff Richard.
Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold; the private property of six of England’s medieval queens; a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and in the 21st century, it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain. The first stone castle was built in 1119 by a Norman baron during the reign of William the Conqueror’s son Henry I, on an island in the River Len. In 1278, a century and a half later, it came into the possession of Queen Eleanor of Castile, first wife of Edward I. For the next 300 years the Castle remained a royal residence, before again becoming a private home. This in turn was handed down over four centuries, by both inheritance and purchase, through a network of interlinked families.
This afternoon we travel to Canterbury for a guided walk with our tour manager of the cobbled streets including its impressive Cathedral. Pilgrims and visitors have made their way to Canterbury Cathedral since the Middle Ages. It remains one of the most visited places in the country, and, just as importantly, a working, living church and community. The remainder of the afternoon is free in Canterbury.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 4 -
After breakfast we check out of the hotel. This morning is at leisure to explore Royal Tunbridge Wells, upon a time, over 400 years ago, a natural spring welled up from the ground and it was named “The Tunbridge Wells”. For years Queen Anne visited but when Queen Victoria made the town part of her regular holiday sojourns ‘Royal’ Tunbridge Wells, the town, came into being in the wider region of Tunbridge Wells. Today, Royal Tunbridge Wells, remains a popular place to live and to visit as it maintains much of its original charm and elegance. The combination of specialist shops and famous high street names, in a charming and historic setting make for a perfect shopping experience, or enjoy the parks, cafes and open spaces including Calverley Grounds, a refined landscaped park of formal beds and lawns right in the centre.
Alternatively, you may wish to join our optional excursion on the Spa Valley Railway, which includes a steam-hauled train journey and a visit to the award-winning gardens at Groombridge Place.
We then return to London by coach.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Meals - as per the itinerary
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|30 April 2023||BCHK230430||30 April 2023 (Sunday)||3 May 2023 (Wednesday)||£1,070
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|17 September 2023||BCHK230917||17 September 2023 (Sunday)||20 September 2023 (Wednesday)||Michael Gill||£1,070
|Book your trip|