Literary Trails of the West Country
It is a truth universally acknowledged that many of the giants of English literature, including the author of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ herself, have associations and connections with the south-west of England. We have therefore strung together a sequence of visits that unites some of our best loved and most celebrated authors in this corner of the country.
We begin in the village of Lacock, which has been used as the location for countless dramas, notably Pride and Prejudice, and continue to Bath, where we have a guided tour of ‘Jane Austen’s Bath’ as well as a visit to the Jane Austen Centre, where guides in period costume will provide an informative account of the author’s fascination with Bath. From our base in Somerset, we travel into Devon for a day on the trail of the most celebrated crime writer of them all, Dame Agatha Christie, with visits to the Torquay Museum with its dedicated Christie gallery and Greenway, Agatha’s holiday home, which she referred to as ‘the loveliest place in the world’. On our final day, our attention turns to Thomas Hardy as we head for Dorchester and visit the cottage in which he was born and the house he designed himself and lived in until his death in 1928.
Note: this tour has been timed so that it can be taken immediately before our Literary Trails of the South Coast tour, with a night in London in between. The South Coast tour also features Jane Austen - please see separate itinerary for details.
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Day 1 -
We depart by coach from our pick-up points and head for our first visit, the village of Lacock in Wiltshire, which will be instantly recognisable having been used as the location for countless TV and film period costume dramas, from Cranford to Wolf Hall and Harry Potter. It also featured prominently in the BBC’s acclaimed adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.
We continue to Bath, which has also seen its fair share of film crews and is also associated with Jane Austen, who lived here for some years before moving to Chawton in Hampshire and used the city as the backdrop to Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. We will be joined by a local guide for a walking tour of ‘Jane Austen’s Bath’, featuring some of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the country. We conclude with a visit to the Jane Austen Centre, set in a classically decorated Georgian townhouse, where guides in period costume will provide an exciting and informative account of the author’s fascination with Bath.
We continue our journey to our comfortable accommodation in Somerset.
|Hotel||Holiday Inn, Taunton|
Day 2 -
After breakfast this morning we head down into Devon for a day on the trail of the most celebrated crime writer of them all, Dame Agatha Christie. On arrival in Torquay we will view the sights on the ‘Agatha Christie Mile’, including the Grand Hotel, where Agatha spent her honeymoon night on Christmas Eve 1914; Torre Abbey and Princess Gardens, the Princess Pier before visiting the Torquay Museum which has the UK’s only dedicated Agatha Christie gallery.
Later we continue to Greenway, Agatha’s holiday home which she referred to as ‘the loveliest place in the world’. This relaxed and atmospheric house is set in the 1950s, when Agatha and her family would spend summers and Christmases here with friends, relaxing by the river, playing croquet and clock golf, and reading her latest mystery to their guests. The family were great collectors, and the house is filled with archaeology, Tunbridgeware, silver, botanical china and books.
In the garden a large and romantic woodland drifts down the hillside towards the sparkling Dart estuary. The walled gardens are home to a restored peach house and vinery, as well as an allotment cared for by local school children. A visit to Greenway isn't complete without seeing the Boathouse, scene of the crime in 'Dead Man’s Folly', and the battery complete with cannon.
|Hotel||Holiday Inn, Taunton|
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 3 -
After breakfast, assuming we are not all detained while a little Belgian detective investigates a mysterious murder, we depart for Dorchester, which has become synonymous with the novelist Thomas Hardy. We first visit Hardy’s Cottage, where the author was born in 1840. Built of cob and thatch by his great-grandfather, the house has been altered little since the family left. The garden reflects most people's idea of a typical cottage garden, with roses around the door, and the sound of birdsong. Once inside we will discover that 19th-century rural life, with its open hearths, small windows and stone floors, was not always idyllic.
In the afternoon we visit Max Gate, the house which Thomas Hardy designed and lived in from 1885 until his death in 1928. This is where he wrote Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge, as well as much of his poetry. The National Trust has recently opened up the small dressing room where Hardy used to take his morning bath, and we will also learn about his faithful but rather grumpy Fox Terrier, Wessex.
Following our visit we return to our original departure points, where we expect to arrive in the late afternoon.
Tour dates & prices
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single Supp.||Availability|
|18 May 2021||BLTW210518||18 May 2021 (Tuesday)||20 May 2021 (Thursday)||£395
|14 September 2021||BLTW210914||14 September 2021 (Tuesday)||16 September 2021 (Thursday)||£395