We check in to the Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth West Cliff in the afternoon, our base for the next three nights. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager followed by a three-course evening meal.
Friday: Beaulieu Palace House and Abbey & Edmondsham House
We head to the Beaulieu Estate, set in the heart of the New Forest National Park. Here we visit Palace House, once the gatehouse of the medieval Beaulieu Abbey, which has been the Montagu family home since 1538. Remodelled and extended in the 1800s, it is now a fine example of a Victorian Gothic style country house adorned with family treasures, portraits and memorabilia. On our guided ‘Grand Tour’, we discover the fascinating history of the building, its contents and the Montagu family. Our guided tour extends to the preserved ruins of Beaulieu Abbey where we learn more about this once thriving medieval abbey and the monks who lived here.
We continue on to Edmondsham House, owned by the same family for over 400 years and still very much a family home. This elegant Tudor house with Georgian additions is set in six acres of gardens with a Victorian walled kitchen garden. The interiors feature a beautifully carved 17th-century staircase and mostly 19th-century decoration.
In the evening we enjoy a three-course dinner and an interesting themed talk from a guest speaker.
Saturday: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum
The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is situated on Bournemouth’s cliff top overlooking the sea. Former home of Sir Merton and Lady Annie Russell-Cotes, this exotic Victorian seaside villa celebrates the couple’s passion for art and travel, showcasing their remarkable collections and world class art in a unique setting. The house and Edwardian galleries were gifted to the people of Bournemouth in 1908, creating a veritable time capsule.
Highlights include the exquisite Main Hall with high Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art, the Alhambra Palace-inspired Moorish Alcove and the world-renowned Japanese collection.
The rest of the afternoon is free to spend at leisure in Bournemouth. You may wish to explore the Victorian architecture of the town or enjoy part of the seven miles of sandy beaches.
This evening, we enjoy an inclusive three-course dinner back at the hotel.
Sunday: Ferry to Guernsey & Sausmarez Manor and Gardens
We check out of the hotel and head to Poole for our fast ferry crossing to Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands and a mere 25 square miles in size.
After disembarkation, we head to Sausmarez Manor. Parts of the manor date back to the 13th century, although many alterations in different styles have been made since. The impressive front of the manor is regarded as one of the finest example of Queen Anne Colonial architecture in Britain while inside are collections of Oriental, French and English furniture and paintings. On our guided tour, we learn the fascinating story of the manor’s inhabitants, the Sausmarez family, whose careers ranged from explorers to diplomats and admirals to colonial governors; many of whom left their mark on the house. Afterwards, we have time to explore the Subtropical Gardens with their many exotic species, set in ancient woodland, and the renowned Sculpture Park.
Later, we check in to our Guernsey hotel where we stay overnight with dinner included.
Monday: St Peter Port
After checking out of our hotel, we spend some time at leisure in Guernsey’s capital of St Peter Port. This pretty harbour town offers a bustling hub of boutiques, restaurants, cobbled streets and attractions around the picturesque harbour, all overlooked by the spectacular Castle Cornet which has stood guard over the town for nearly eight centuries.
In the afternoon, we board the fast ferry back to Poole, arriving back at our Bournemouth hotel in time for a late dinner.
Tuesday: Athelhampton House & Lulworth Castle
This morning we visit Athelhampton House, a splendid manor house dating back to the 15th century, where we enjoy a guided tour. The Great Hall at the heart of the house is a fine example of Tudor architecture with its linenfold panelling, heraldic stained glass, large fireplace and historic furnishings. Other notable rooms include the panelled Great Chamber, Library, State Bedrooms filled with period furnishings and artwork and a Wine Cellar. Outside is a superb example of a 19th-century Italianate garden with yew pyramids.
We then travel via the famous Lulworth Cove to Lulworth Castle, set at the heart of a large country estate in the south Dorset countryside. Our introductory talk covers the history of this fascinating property. Built in the early 17th century as a hunting lodge, the castle’s history includes being seized by the Roundheads during the English Civil War and being used as a residence-in-exile for the surviving members of the French Royal Family following the French Revolution. The castle was gutted by a disastrous fire in 1929 but has been completely restored by English Heritage, returning the exterior to its former glory and consolidating the interior to reveal the many stories of its past.
We return to our hotel for an inclusive three-course dinner.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel for the journey home.
Please note: The itinerary may be subject to change in line with ferry sailing times. There could be an early morning sailing with breakfast on board the Condor.