Excursion One - Sissinghurst Castle Garden & Bateman’s
Created in the 1930s by novelist Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson around the picturesque ruins of an Elizabethan manor house, Sissinghurst Castle Garden is a romantic delight whatever the season. The garden is laid out as a series of individually-planted ‘rooms’ including a fragrant Herb Garden and Rose Garden, divided by hedges and walls.
17th-century Bateman’s so enchanted Rudyard Kipling when he discovered it that he made it his home in 1902. With its stone-mullioned windows and Sussex oak beams, it’s a romantic retreat that has been left virtually untouched since Kipling’s tenure here. The tranquil gardens include an orchard, formal garden and a colourful wildflower meadow, through which a river flows.
Excursion Two - Houses of Parliament & Carlyle’s House
We head into London and the centre of political life in the UK, the Houses of Parliament. Our guided tour takes us through both the House of Lords and House of Commons, offering an insight into one thousand years of history, modern day politics plus stunning art and architecture. Just some of the highlights include the Queen’s Robing Room, both the Commons and Lords chambers and the historic Westminster Hall.
Next is Carlyle’s House in Chelsea, home of 19th-century writer and historian Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane. Once the hub of Victorian literary society, when the likes of Dickens, Ruskin and Tennyson visited, the house has been preserved much as it was during the Carlyle’s tenure here. Alternatively, spend a little free time exploring the capital under your own steam.
Excursion Three - Ightham Mote & Hever Castle
We explore the romantic, moated manor house of Ightham Mote, once described by David Starkey as “the most beautiful and the most interesting of English country houses”. Built nearly 700 years ago, atmospheric Ightham has been home to medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and Victorian High Society. The tranquil garden features lakes and an orchard, while the ancient estate offers breathtaking views of the Kent countryside.
Finally, we enjoy an audio guided tour of Hever Castle, steeped in history and Tudor intrigue and renowned as being the former childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Dating back to the late 13th century, the castle originated as a gatehouse and walled bailey and is home to various historic artefacts such as Tudor portraits and furniture, as well as two Books of Hours – prayer books signed and inscribed by Anne Boleyn. The spectacular gardens feature peaceful walks, two mazes and are renowned for having their own rose – the Hever Castle Rose.