Excursion One - Kew Palace
We head to the outskirts of London to explore Kew Palace, an intimate royal retreat within the famous Kew Gardens. The house has a rich history spanning nearly 400 years, from its modest beginnings as the home of a rich Flemish merchant to a royal retreat for Kings George II and III and their families. We also discover the Royal Kitchens which give a fascinating insight into Georgian culinary life and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, built for George III’s wife as a picnic retreat. There will also be time to explore lovely Kew Gardens during our visit.
Excursion Two - Highclere Castle & Hatchlands Park
We visit world-famous Highclere Castle, residence of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and filming location for the much loved Downton Abbey television series. Entrance includes access to the Egyptian Exhibition in the cellars of the castle, which explores the achievements of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922.
Built in the 1750s, Hatchlands Park is a classic country house with fine Adams ceiling decoration and tenant Alec Cobbe’s superb collection of paintings and sculptures as well as Europe’s largest collection of keyboard instruments. Outside, the informal grounds include a parterre garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll.
Excursion Three - Hinton Ampner & Petworth House
Hinton Ampner is the fulfilment of one man’s vision. Following a devastating fire in 1960, Ralph Dutton, the last Lord Sherborne, rebuilt the house in the elegant Georgian country house style he loved and filled it with an exquisite collection of ceramics and art. However, Hinton Ampner is best known for its fine gardens, widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of 20th-century garden design with beautifully manicured lawns, meticulously sculpted topiary and breathtaking views across parkland and the South Downs.
Immortalised in Turner's paintings, Petworth House is an impressive estate that combines a deer park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown with a vast 17th-century mansion, which houses the National Trust’s finest collection of art and sculptures. Masterpieces by the likes of Van Dyck, Reynolds, Blake and Turner himself are displayed in the opulent state rooms and North Gallery. We enjoy an introductory talk before our visit.