Queen Victoria and the Isle of Wight
2019 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria, during whose reign Britain went through huge social changes. This new tour takes us to locations that played an important part in her life as well as offering the opportunity to visit some of the outstanding attractions on the Isle of Wight.
The centrepiece must be Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Queen Victoria’s favourite home, with its beautiful gardens and extravagant Wendy house where the royal children played so happily. Elsewhere on the island we visit Carisbrooke Castle, a quintessential romantic castle, which has been an Elizabethan artillery fortress, a king's prison and a royal summer residence; Godshill and Shanklin Old Village with their picturesque thatched cottages and the Rosemary Vineyard, one of the largest producers of English wine.
On the mainland our visits included spectacular Windsor Castle, the scene of countless royal occasions over the centuries, during Victoria’s reign and most recently the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Frogmore House, for which Victoria had a great affection and is only open to the public during the month of August.
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Meals - as per the itinerary
17 August 2020: Itinerary
We depart by coach from Tothill Street, central London, and Heathrow Airport in the late morning, and travel the short distance to Windsor Castle, the scene of countless royal occasions over the centuries, most recently the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Windsor was originally built by William the Conqueror in the decade after the Norman Conquest of 1066, as part of a defensive ring of motte and bailey castles around London. The castle survived a tumultuous period during the English Civil War, in which it was used as a military headquarters for Parliamentary forces and a prison for Charles I. After a period of neglect during the 18th century, George III and George IV renovated and rebuilt Charles II's Baroque palace at colossal expense. During much of Victoria’s reign it became the centre for Royal entertainment.
Our free-flow tour includes the State Apartments, furnished with some of the finest works from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Van Dyck and Holbein, Sèvres porcelain and exquisite English and French furniture. Another highlight is Queen Mary’s Dolls House, a perfect miniature replica of a 20th century aristocratic home. We will also see St George’s Chapel, scene of that royal wedding and before we leave Windsor we will view the Queen Victoria Statue in Castle Hill, unveiled in 1887.
Following our visit we continue to Portsmouth where we will board a ferry to Fishbourne. We then travel to our accommodation at the Best Western New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes, where dinner will be served in the evening.
Meals include: Dinner
Hotel: Best Western Holmwood Hotel, Cowes
Following breakfast we travel the short distance to Osborne House & Gardens. With views onto the Solent, this was Queen Victoria’s favourite home, which boasts the most impressive formal gardens on the island. These include a recently restored walled garden and an attractive tree-lined walk to the Swiss Cottage, built as a spectacular Wendy House for the Royal children. Here we will enjoy a guided tour of the Gardens, conducted by one of the gardening staff. After lunch in the Terrace Restaurant (included) we continue with a guided tour of the House. Here we will see the sumptuous state rooms, whose furnishings reflect the passions, taste and style of Victoria and Albert, and the family rooms, including the bedroom where Queen Victoria passed away on 22 January 1901.
Later we will visit the Swiss Cottage, the large Wendy house which Victoria and Albert’s nine children loved to play in, and take the shuttle down to the beach, another favourite haunt of the royal children.
We then return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening.
All meals included
Hotel: Best Western Holmwood Hotel, Cowes
This morning after breakfast we depart on a sightseeing tour of the island, beginning with Carisbrooke Castle, a quintessential romantic castle, which has been an Elizabethan artillery fortress, a king's prison and a royal summer residence. Here we can enjoy far reaching panoramic views from high castle walls, meet the loveable donkeys and see them work, visit a fascinating museum and see the Castle’s Edwardian style garden.
We continue to Rosemary Vineyard, one of the largest producers of English wine, with a range that includes red, white, rosé and sparkling wines as well as cider and liqueurs. We will have a tour of the winery and a talk on the processes involved followed by a tasting of selected wines. Lunch is available here (not included).
In the afternoon we drive to Godshill, a quintessential English Village which boasts some of the oldest architecture on the Isle of Wight. With its delightful medieval church, charming thatched roof cottages and a winding main-street lined with traditional tearooms, Godshill is as picturesque as it is popular. It is also known for being the site of the first ever Isle of Wight Festival, which took place at Ford Farm in 1968.
We continue to Shanklin to visit the world famous gorge entered from Shanklin Old Village. Dropping 105ft from the top of the cliff to sea level, Shanklin Chine is a natural fissure in the cliff, formed by water cutting through sandstone to the sea. The chine walk leads through a deeply shaded path winding down beside waterfalls to the shore and along the way there are more than 150 varieties of wild plants and many species of moss to discover. Following this we will have some free time to wander through the Old Village with its picturesque thatched cottages, traditional craft shops, tea rooms and public gardens.
Dinner will be served back at our hotel in the evening.
Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel: Best Western Holmwood Hotel, Cowes
Following breakfast this morning, we begin our homeward journey, transferring to Fishbourne to catch a morning ferry to Portsmouth. We then travel north to the Savill Gardens in Windsor, one of Britain’s greatest ornamental gardens. Neither a botanical garden, nor a kitchen garden attached to a great house, it is a garden for the garden’s sake, enjoyed by horticulturalists and enthusiasts alike. It never fails to charm visitors who come to explore its 35 acres of contemporary and classically designed gardens and exotic woodland. Developed under the patronage of Kings and Queens, The Savill Garden was created in the 1930s by Sir Eric Savill. It began as a woodland garden, with native oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees, but has since evolved by incorporating many new plants over the years. Lunch is available here (not included).
Our final visit takes us to Frogmore House, which is only open to the public on certain days in August. The interests and talents of several generations of the royal family influenced Frogmore's interior as we see it today. Queen Charlotte's passion for botany is reflected in the decoration of the house. She commissioned the renowned 18th-century flower painter Mary Moser to decorate one of the principal rooms so it resembled an arbour open to the skies. The Cross Gallery was painted with garlands by Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte.
For almost 20 years, Frogmore was the home of Queen Victoria's mother, The Duchess of Kent. Works by her and her daughter are on display in the house. Queen Victoria often visited Frogmore during her long widowhood and worked on her papers there. You can also see watercolours by her daughters, the Princess Victoria and Louise in the house.
Our visit ends in the Britannia Room which is furnished with a selection of items from the Royal Yacht Britannia. When the much-loved vessel was decommissioned in 1997, The Duke of Edinburgh arranged for the items to be moved to Frogmore.
We will then return to our original departure points at Heathrow and Westminster.
Meals include: Breakfast
17 August 2020: Additional Info
17 August 2020: Accommodation
Best Western New Holmwood Hotel is located at Egypt Point on the edge of Cowes, home to a boat load of world famous yachting events! Just a pleasant, waterfront walk away from Cowes town, you'll be close to the shops as well as the sea.
At the hotel itself, you'll be able to relax in one of our 3 comfortable lounges, one of which has large picture windows that look out onto all the shipping movements so you can watch cruise liners, racing yachts, family pleasure yachts, huge tankers and container ships in pleasant surroundings. You can also see the sea from our restaurant, lounge and guest rooms, where you'll have panoramic views of The Solent.