Excursion One - Hidcote Manor Garden, Chipping Campden & Snowshill Manor
We head to Hidcote Manor Garden, where we enjoy an introductory talk before exploring this exquisite Arts and Crafts garden. Created by the reclusive American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston, the garden is laid out as a series of colourful and intricately designed ‘rooms’ and features many plants that were collected on Johnston’s trips to far flung places.
We then explore the idyllic old wool merchants’ town of Chipping Campden. A gilded masterpiece of limestone and craftsmanship, it has a lovely main street complete with old pubs, antique shops and almshouses, a 17th-century Market Hall and one of the finest wool churches in England.
Our last visit of the day is to Snowshill Manor. This Cotswold manor house was bought by Charles Wade for just one purpose; to house the extraordinary treasures he collected over his lifetime. Every room is filled with hundreds of objects, from the everyday to the extraordinary including Japanese samurai armour, bicycles and in particular, musical instruments.
Excursion Two - Cheltenham, Wilson Gallery & Chavenage House
We spend time in Cheltenham this morning, with time to admire the Regency town houses, intricate ironwork balconies and painted stucco facades that line the historic promenade, squares and terraces. Afterwards, we take a guided tour of the Wilson Gallery, an outstanding museum and art gallery with a programme of temporary exhibitions and permanent galleries.
We continue on to Chavenage House. This Elizabethan era manor house, constructed of grey Cotswold stone, has remained largely unchanged for 400 years. The house has a rich history and many Civil War associations including the rooms where Cromwell stayed and an interior packed with stunning period furniture, historic tapestries and fascinating relics from the Cromwellian era, all of which we discover on our guided tour, followed by a cream tea. Chavenage has also been used as a film location including the BBC’s hugely successful Poldark TV series.
Excursion Three - Bibury, Chedworth Roman Villa & Bourton-on-the-Water
We start the day in the charming Cotswold village of Bibury, once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England’. A picturesque row of National Trust owned weavers’ cottages built in local stone lie next to the River Coln and a water meadow provides an important habitat for water-loving plants and birds.
Next, we visit one of the grandest and most complete roman villas in the country, Chedworth Roman Villa. Rediscovered by the Victorians over 150 years ago, it is set in glorious countryside and provides access to extensive, intricate mosaic floors, two bath houses, hypocaust systems and a large range of Roman finds and artefacts.
We finish the day in one of the prettiest, most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds; Bourton-on-the-Water, with its elegant low bridges and tree-shaded river banks.