Alison Weir Tours

Tudor Tapestry

 

ITINERARY
 


Day 1: Tuesday
 
Welcome buffet lunch at the Kingsway Hall Hotel, London

This elegant Covent Garden hotel with air-conditioned rooms and a fitness centre is walking distance from the British Museum, Trafalgar Square, London’s West End and theatreland. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel. The glass-panelled restaurant at Kingsway Hall serves a breakfast buffet in the morning, an afternoon tea and a selection of seasonal British dishes in the evening. To relax and unwind, guests can also visit The Lounge bar, which serves a large selection of drinks and cocktails.

After lunch, depart the Kingsway Hall Hotel, London for Hever Castle
 
Thirteenth-century Hever Castle, the family home of Henry VIII’s second wife, is romantic and double-moated, with a rich history stretching back over seven centuries. The Boleyns built the comfortable Tudor manor house within the earlier castle walls between c.1462 and c.1506. Henry VIII is said to have courted Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle and there are various artefacts in the castle connected with them both. In 1540, Henry gave Hever Castle to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, as part of their divorce settlement, and she sometimes stayed here before her death in 1557. The American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor, acquired Hever Castle in 1903 and spent a great deal of time, money and imagination restoring it. The interior walls are covered with magnificent carving and panelling. The rooms are filled with wonderful antiques and works of art, including a fine collection of Tudor royal portraits, including several of Anne Boleyn and most of Henry VIII’s other wives. Astor further enhanced the castle's romantic setting by creating glorious gardens. These include the unique Italian garden, the maze, the 35-acre lake and the rose garden, all of which are now fully mature and spectacular throughout the seasons. The Italian garden contains statuary and sculpture dating from Roman to Renaissance times, where it forms a magnificent sight among the glorious display of shrubs, flowers and plants. A Tudor herb garden close to the castle was opened in 1994. Visitors can also enjoy the Guthrie Collection of miniature model historic houses.
 
At Hever Castle, check into the private Astor Wing
 
Hever’s award-winning accommodation is in the luxurious Astor Wing – the ‘Tudor Village’ built by William Waldorf Astor in the early 20th century, which adjoins the castle and enjoys a stunning setting in the private grounds. There are 28 individually styled guest rooms, including 9 beautiful new rooms in the recently-opened Anne Boleyn wing, we have exclusive use of the whole Astor Wing during our 3-night stay. Guests are welcome to relax in the Music Room and the Billiards/Pool Room, or enjoy the open-air swimming pool and croquet lawn, or Hever’s beautiful gardens, and have access to the castle and grounds during opening times.
 
In the evening there will be private guided tours of Hever Castle, followed by a pre-dinner drinks reception in the Tudor Suite Dining Room, Inner Hall or Castle Courtyard.
 
Our welcome dinner will be in the Castle Dining Hall
 
Over coffee: Tracy Borman will speak on The Private Lives of the Tudors
 
Overnight: Hever Castle
 
 
Day 2: Wednesday
 
(May) Depart Hever Castle for Anne of Cleves' House in Sussex. An impressive 15th century timber framed Wealden hall-house, it was given to Anne as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII. This atmospheric house displays authentically furnished rooms and its garden uses traditional plants and Tudor planting. Discover how the Tudors and Elizabethans lived, worked and relaxed at home. The house also contains the Museum of Lewes history, Tom Paine and the Wealden iron industry.

(October) Depart Hever Castle for Allington Castle and a private tour. Allington Castle is one of Kent's best kept secrets. Nestled in forty-two acres next to the river Medway, it dates back to Medieval times and is surrounded by a moat. A large lake split by a causeway leads up to the castle entrance. The castle was built in 1281. It was converted to a mansion in 1492 when the Wyatt family acquired the property. This was the home of the poet, Sir Thomas Wyatt, and his son of the same name, who led a rebellion against Mary I in 1554. The castle was badly damaged by fire in the late 16th century and was abandoned until 1905 when it was restored by Sir Martin Conway. The castle is also surrounded by beautifully restored gardens featuring ornamental ponds and fountains, Italian gardens, a lavender walk, a rose arbour with a temple, and a walled tiltyard garden. The castle interiors are fully furnished and in character with its medieval origins, with tapestries, antique furniture, and a Great Hall in which Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn dinned with Sir Thomas Wyatt around 1530.
 
(May) Depart Anne of Cleves' House for Loseley Park, where we will have an included lunch and private tour.
Built in the reign of Elizabeth I, Loseley Park stands in ancient Surrey parkland with stunning views towards North Downs.  Still the home of the More-Molyneux family, it is remarkably unchanged since 1562, when Sir William More laid the first stones. The intricate panelling in the Great Hall was once in Henry VIII’s fabled palace of Nonsuch.  There is an elegant Walled Garden with an award-winning rose garden, and also white gardens and a delightful moat walk. Other attractions include a pleasant walk down to the lake across the Front Park, a delightful, refurbished Wisteria Tea Room, a gift shop and plant sales.

(October) Depart Allington Castle for Lullingstone Castle, where we will have an included lunch and a guided tour of the castle and church.
Lullingstone Castle dates back to the 15th century and remains in the same family. It boasts Henry VIII and Queen Anne amongst its royal visitors and was home to the Lullingstone Silk Farm that produced silk for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation robes. More recently Lullingstone was host to two BBC2 series documenting the challenges of the current heir Tom Hart Dyke taking over the Estate. Since his kidnap ordeal in Colombia in 2000, Tom has created a garden in the shape of the world, containing 8,000 unusual plants.

In the evening there will be an included guided tour, drinks and dinner at Penshurst Place. Dating from the fourteenth century, it is one of England's finest historic houses, set in the Weald of Kent's peaceful rural landscape. The medieval house with its magnificent Baron's Hall dates from 1341 and is one of the finest examples of 14th-century architecture. Later additions have seen Penshurst Place grow into an imposing fortified manor house containing state rooms filled with a remarkable collection of tapestries, paintings, furniture, porcelain and armour.  Henry VIII owned Penshurst, and may have used it as a base for courting Anne Boleyn at nearby Hever Castle. Penshurst has been the ancestral home of the Sidney family since 1552 and successive generations have shaped its development. Penshurst's most famous son, Sir Philip Sidney, the chivalrous soldier poet, was a symbol of loyalty and bravery in the Elizabethan era. The garden is one of the oldest in private ownership. The earliest records are dated 1346, and much of the garden remains as it was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who visited Penshurst on many occasions. The room where she gave audiences is called the Queen Elizabeth Room in her honour.
 
Overnight: Hever Castle
 
 
Day 3: Thursday
COURTESY COACH DAY
 
Depart Hever Castle for Leeds Castle
Guests can opt to spend the morning at Hever Castle
 
Visit Leeds Castle for a private tour. and included light lunch.
Leeds Castle, the dower palace of the medieval queens of England, is set in a lake amid 500 acres of beautiful parkland. It has been called ‘the most beautiful castle in the world’. A former royal palace begun in the 12th century, Leeds has been owned by a succession of monarchs, and no fewer than six queens of England. Over nine hundred years the castle has withheld sieges, hosted the medieval and early Tudor royal courts, been a prison for witches, kings and prisoners of war, a munitions store and a hospital; and it has welcomed some of the key figures in English history, from Henry VIII to Winston Churchill. Henry VIII, the most famous of Leeds Castle's royal owners, transformed the castle in 1519 for his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. The Maidens’ Tower was constructed around 1544 to house Queen Katherine Parr's maids-of-honour. A jewel casket that once belonged to Anne Boleyn is displayed in the Heraldry room. Henry VIII visited Leeds Castle often, and stayed there on his way to his famous meeting with Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. A painting commemorating his meeting with his rival still hangs at the castle. The castle has always been a palace to entertain and impress, with every generation leaving its mark. Today’s beautiful interiors are the result of the massive refurbishment by top European designers throughout the 1920s and 1930s for its last private owner, Lady Baillie.

Guests may opt to go punting on the lake. 

In the afternoon we visit Hall Place, Bexley, Kent.  Hall Place is a stunning Tudor house with magnificent gardens sitting on the banks of the River Cray. Hall Place. It is a Grade I listed country mansion built in 1537 for former Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Champneys. The Tudor house has recently been extensively restored, and boasts a panelled Great Hall with a minstrels’ gallery. 17th-century additions and improvements, include the vaulted Long Gallery, and the splendid Drawing Room with fine plaster ceiling. It is set in award-winning gardens with magnificent topiary, enclosed gardens and inspirational herbaceous borders. In the walled gardens there are sub-tropical glasshouses and a nursery selling plants grown in the Hall Place gardens. Following restoration, new displays include an introduction to the house's history and exhibits from Bexley's museum collection. The new visitor centre offers a riverside tearoom and gift shop.
 
In the evening there will be an included dinner at the historic Plough Inn at Leigh, Kent, a traditional low-beamed country pub situated on the village green, and dating from the 14th century. We will dine in the gorgeous 17th-century barn, which has many of its original features, notably the striking wooden beams and a minstrels’ gallery.
 
Overnight: Hever Castle
 
 
Day 4: Friday
 
Check out of Hever Castle
 
Depart Hever Castle for Ingatestone Hall, Essex
 
Visit Ingatestone Hall for a guided tour followed by a light lunch in the Summer Parlour.
Ingatestone Hall is a 16th century manor house surrounded by approximately 11 acres of grounds. The house was built by Sir William Petre, Secretary of State to four Tudor monarchs, and is still occupied by his descendants. It contains furniture, pictures and family memorabilia accumulated over the centuries. Elizabeth I stayed here several times, and Lady Katherine Grey was held prisoner here. The house, which is listed Grade I, largely retains its original Tudor form and appearance, with brick-mullioned windows, crow-step gables, tall chimneys, extensive oak panelling and two priests’ hiding places. It is essentially a much-loved family home rather than a perfectly in-period showpiece.  
 
Depart Ingatestone Hall for the Swan Hotel, Lavenham, Suffolk
 
Check into the Swan Hotel, Lavenham
In the Suffolk countryside, between Bury St. Edmunds and Sudbury, in the heart of historic Lavenham, lies this beautiful 15th-century hotel, which offers 4-star accommodation and a restaurant with 2 AA Rosettes for its fine food. Lavenham is one of the best-preserved Tudor villages in Britain, and The Swan Hotel & Spa is perhaps one of England's finest historic hotels. The building has been carefully restored and beautifully renovated, with ancient oak beams, large open fireplaces and a minstrel gallery. Decorated in warm, relaxing colours, the en-suite rooms combine period features with modern facilities. Each includes a flat-screen plasma TV and facilities for making tea and coffee. The on-site Weavers' House Spa has six treatment rooms, two relaxation suites, a sauna, steam room, spa boutique and an outdoor vitality pool and terrace. The Swan Hotel & Spa serves modern British cuisine in its Gallery Restaurant, made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Guests can also dine in the informal Brasserie and historic Old Bar. Al fresco dining is possible in the garden, as well as fine dining in the elegant Gallery Restaurant. The Airmen's Bar is full of Second World War memorabilia and signatures of air force personnel stationed at Lavenham Airfield. Take time to read the Boot Record, inscribed on the wall by members of the US Army Air Force 487th Bombardment Group, which flew 185 missions and more than 6,000 sorties whilst stationed at Lavenham during the Second World War.

In the evening there will be an included drinks reception followed by an included dinner in the beamed Wool Room at the Swan Hotel, Lavenham
 
Overnight: The Swan Hotel, Lavenham
 
 
Day 5: Saturday
 
Depart the Swan Hotel, Lavenham for Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Visit St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds
This remarkable 14th-century church claims to be England’s third largest parish church, and to have England’s second longest aisle and its largest west window. The medieval hammerbeam roof with its angel carvings, and the tomb of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, sister of Henry VIII, and the stained-glass windows telling her story, make it well worth visiting.
 
Aftewards, we will visit Moyses Hall Museum
Moyse’s Hall, overlooking the Market Place, dates back to 1180, and was used as a prison and a police station before opening as a museum in 1899. Here you can investigate local and social history, including the notorious Red Barn Murder of 1828, and see a locket containing the hair of Mary Tudor.
 
There will be free time for an independent lunch
 
Depart Bury St Edmunds for Oxburgh Hall
 
Visit Oxburgh Hall. Step back in time through the magnificant Tudor gatehouse into the dangerous world of Tudor politics. Oxburgh Hall has been home to the Bedingfield family since 1482. Sir Edmund Bedingfield served as gaoler to Katherine of Aragon, and his son, Sir Henry, as gaoler to the future Elizabeth I. This stunning red-brick house charts the precarious history of the family from medieval austerity to neo-Gothic Victorian comfort. As well as early Mortlake tapestries in the Queen's Room, Oxburgh houses beautiful embroidery by both Mary Queen of Scots and the famous Bess of Harwick. The rooms where Henry VII and Elizabeth of York stayed can still be seen. Panoramic views from the roof look out over the Victorian French parterre, the walled orchard, the kitchen garden and a Catholic chapel.
 

At the hotel there will be a talk by guest historian Derek Wilson: 'Thomas Cromwell in Fiction'
 
Dinner is independent tonight
 
Overnight: The Swan Hotel, Lavenham
 
 
Day 6: Sunday
 
Depart the Swan Hotel, Lavenham for the City of Cambridge
 
Visit Cambridge. Sarah Gristwood will be our guide. We will see St John’s College, founded in 1511. Its foundation charter, dated 9 April that year, was sealed by the executors of the foundress, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, who had died in 1509. She had begun the process of transforming the ancient hospital of St John the Evangelist, Cambridge (founded c.1200), into a college for students in the liberal arts and theology. From a small nucleus of fellows and scholars subsisting in First Court (1511-16) on the College's endowments the numbers grew by 1545 to one hundred and fifty-two. Subsequently the admission of more undergraduates paying for their own board and tuition created pressure on existing accommodation. This led eventually to the building of Second Court 1599-1601, the first major expansion of the College. Other landmarks were the endowment of a new Library building in 1624-8, strikingly enlarged and complemented by a modern extension in 1990-3; the bridging of the river and building of New Court 1826-31; and the great chapel, designed by George Gilbert Scott, in 1863-9. 
 
We will also see Trinity College, founded by Henry VIII in 1546, combining Michaelhouse and King's Hall. Michaelhouse had existed since 1324; King's Hall had been established by Edward II in 1317 and refounded by Edward III in 1337.  The oldest parts of the College date from the time of King's Hall, including the range behind the Clock Tower, which are medieval, and the Great Gate, which was built at the beginning of the 16th century. The tower once stood about 20 yards from where it is now and was moved to its present site when Great Court was laid out. Many of the buildings that we see today were built through the efforts of Thomas Nevile, who became Master of Trinity in 1593, including the main features of Great Court and a large part of the beautiful, cloistered court on the side of the Hall that faces the river. Nevile's Court was completed in the late 17th century when the library designed by Sir Christopher Wren was built. The Wren Library contains many treasures, the oldest of which is an 8th century copy of the Epistles of St Paul. New Court and courts on the other side of Trinity Street opposite the Great Gate were erected in the 19th century. The College grew rapidly in importance during the century after its foundation and by 1564 it accounted for about a quarter of the total number of resident members of the University. Undergraduates of the 16th century included Francis Bacon, philosopher and statesman, and the Earl of Essex, a favourite of Elizabeth I.

There will be free time for an independent lunch

In the afternoon we will visit the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, arguably the most magnificent example of late medieval English architecture in the entire country. Guidebooks run out of superlatives to describe the richness of its interior decoration and the sumptuous flowing lines of the structural elements. The Chapel was founded by Henry VI in 1441 as part of his grand scheme for creating at King's a college to take graduates of Eton College, founded the previous year. The chapel was intended to form one side of a grand court but the residential ranges planned for the other three sides of the court were never completed. Building continued until 1461, but when Henry VI was taken prisoner by the future Edward IV, workmen packed up their tools and went home. It was left to the Tudor kings, Henry VII and Henry VIII, to achieve the final, spectacular completion of the Chapel. Henry VII provided the necessary funds to turn it into a complete building. The chest which carried Henry's initial gift of money is preserved in the Chapel Exhibition in the northern side chapel. The main structure was finished in 1515, and Henry VIII funded the interior woodwork and screen. The magnificent fan vaulting was completed in just 3 years, between 1512-1515 by master mason John Wastell. The superbly carved screen between the antechapel and choir was a gift of Henry VIII. The screen bears Henry's initials twined around those of Anne Boleyn.  It is said that King’s has the finest collection of early renaissance glass in the world. Almost all the windows are original. In one window Henry VIII appears as King Solomon receiving a gift from the Queen of Sheba. There have been claims that either Anne Boleyn or Katherine Howard were the model for the Queen of Sheba. When Henry VIII died in 1547, just over a hundred years after the laying of the foundation stone, King's College Chapel was recognised as one of Europe's finest, late medieval buildings. It was in truth 'a work of kings'.
 
Afterwards we will see Christ’s College, first established as God's House in 143, for training grammar school masters. Shortly after receiving its Royal Licence from Henry VI in 1446, God's House was forced to move from its original site, as this was needed for the King's new project, which was to become King's College. God's House moved to its present site in 1448, and in the same year received a second Royal Licence. This licence may be regarded as the Foundation Charter. Following the death of her third husband, and the accession of her son as King Henry VII, the Lady Margaret Beaufort turned her energies to good causes. No doubt at the suggestion of her confessor, Bishop John Fisher, she decided to enlarge God's House. In 1505, with a royal charter from the King, the College was re-founded as Christ's College. Lady Margaret has been honoured ever since as the Foundress. Surviving the twists and turns of the Reformation, Christ's became one of the leading Puritan colleges of Elizabethan Cambridge.
3pm onwards: Free time.
 
Guests may wish to visit the world-famous Fitzwilliam Museum, or the 12th-century Round Church, Cambridge’s second-oldest building.
 
Dinner is independent tonight.
 
Overnight: The Swan Hotel, Lavenham
 
 
Day 7: Monday
 
Check out of the Swan Hotel
 
Depart the Swan Hotel, Lavenham for Eltham Palace, Kent
 
Historian Elizabeth Norton will guide us around Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace became a royal house in 1305 when Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, presented it to the future Edward II. For the next two centuries, it was only surpassed in importance and royal favour by the Palace of Westminster. The surrounding parks provided excellent hunting within easy reach of London, and its position on the route from the coast made it a popular place to receive distinguished foreign visitors. It became the custom for the court to spend Christmas at Eltham. Little can now be seen of Bishop Bek's manor house beyond his original moat wall, but his royal successors added fine suites of royal lodgings on the east and west sides of the inner court. Some of their foundations can still be seen. The building accounts give tantalising details of the rooms which include a bath-house and dancing chamber for King Richard II. The Great Hall and surviving medieval buildings date to the reign of Edward IV (1461- 83). Access to the royal apartments was from the dais end of the hall, the queen's to the right and the king's to the left, although these apartments have unfortunately now disappeared. Henry VIII spent much of his childhood here. Eltham Palace continued to be used by the Tudors, but was gradually eclipsed by nearby Greenwich Palace, which was accessible by river from Westminster. Both Henry VII and Henry VIII made further alterations to the royal apartments, with the latter also adding a new chapel to the site. The last significant royal additions were made by Queen Elizabeth and her successor, King James I. By the Civil War, the palace was in poor repair. In 1828 it was saved from demolition by an early preservation campaign in the local paper and Parliament. A thorough restoration of the roof and outer walls was carried out by the Office of Works between 1911 and 1914, and the hall was further refurbished in the 1920s and 30s, when it was incorporated into the new house built by Seely and Paget for the Courtaulds. When millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld built their Art Deco mansion, they created a masterpiece. Today Eltham Palace is one of London's most spectacular historic monuments. It boasts views across City and to the West End, and is surrounded by delightful grounds. The site is now dominated by the stylish house of the Courtaulds. Like the house, the palace’s 19 acres of gardens feature both 20th-century and medieval aspectss.

We will have an included lunch in the Heritage Restaurant at the Tudor Barn, Eltham
The Tudor Barn at Eltham is a truly unique venue, and holds the distinction of being the only existing Tudor barn in London. Surrounded by thirteen acres of parkland and a medieval moat, the Tudor Barn dates back to the 16th century. With its connections to royalty, and as the location of some of history’s most celebrated marriages, including The Railway Children’s author Edith Nesbit and Hubert Bland, it is a place steeped in history and tradition.

Depart the Tudor Barn, Eltham for Oakley Hall Hotel, Hampshire
 
Check into Oakley Hall Hotel (where we will have private breakfasts in the Library)
With its sweeping driveway, pretty tiled hallway and an impressive walnut-panelled library, where we will have private breakfasts overlooking the large south-facing terrace, Oakley Hall Hotel truly is a hidden treasure in the rolling countryside of North Hampshire. This grand building dates back to 1795 and was formerly owned by the Bramston Family, who were close friends of Jane Austen. It is mentioned fondly in Austen’s letters to her sister Cassandra at the turn of the 19th century. Oakley Hall Hotel has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment, and now offers 47 elegant bedrooms in both the main house and the converted 19th-century courtyard stable block. All bedrooms have been individually designed and furnished to a very high standard complete with every modern convenience and home comfort. Some have a private terrace overlooking the landscaped gardens. The brand new, elegant 2-AA-Rosette Glasshouse restaurant and 1795 bar is where you can peruse a mouth-watering menu, based on fresh local produce. Oakley Hall Hotel  offers guests a quiet country retreat set in beautiful surroundings.


In the evening there will be an included drinks reception followed by dinner in the Garden Room at Oakley Hall Hotel
 
Overnight: Oakley Hall Hotel
 
 
Day 8: Tuesday
 
(May) Depart Oakley Hall Hotel for Parham House, Sussex
 
Visit Parham House for a guided tour followed by a light lunch.
 
Parham is one of the country’s finest Elizabethan Houses: a traditional stone E-shaped Elizabethan mansion, built in 1557 with an impressive aspect, a Great Hall with towering mullioned and transomed windows, and a Long Gallery with a beautiful painted ceiling. Parham’s tranquillity and timeless beauty have changed little over the centuries. It features in the top twenty of Simon Jenkins’s ‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’, in which he describes it as ‘a house of magic’. It houses an excellent collection of portraits of English Tudor and Stuart monarchs and their courts, and an important collection of needlework and furniture. There are seven acres of 18th-century pleasure gardens and a four-acre Walled Garden. The award-winning gardens contain stunning herbaceous borders, a greenhouse and a vegetable garden. The fishpond and deer park predate the Tudor house.

(October) Depart Oakley Hall Hotel for St Mary’s, Bramber, where we will have a guided tour. 
St Mary's is an enchanting historic 15th-century timber-framed house, with magnificent gardens, set in the picturesque award-winning downland village of Bramber, West Sussex, a place of fascination and mystery. Still a lived-in home, there are fine panelled rooms, including the unique Elizabethan trompe l'oeil Painted Room. St Mary's also has intriguing literary connections with Oscar Wilde and the Sherlock Holmes story, 'The Musgrave Ritual'. There are five acres of beautiful gardens, with an exceptional example of the prehistoric Ginkgo Biloba 'living fossil' tree, amusing animal topiary, and 'Secret' Garden with original Victorian fruit wall and pineapple pits, beautiful rose garden, unusual circular English Poetry Garden, landscape water garden and Rural Museum.

Guests may also like to visit the remains of Bramber Castle, a Norman stronghold perched on a high natural knoll overlooking the River Adur, defending a gap in the South Downs. Built soon after the Norman Conquest to help protect William the Conqueror's newly won territories, the castle was the Sussex seat of the de Braose family. The one surviving wall of the tower, standing 14 metres high, provides a glimpse of how imposing the castle once was. Climb to the top of the motte for stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

In October, we will have an included lunch in the Old Tollgate Hotel, Bramber. Commonly described as a visual á la carte, the award-winning Carvery Restaurant offers an amazing choice of locally sourced, seasonal food. Choose as much as you like from beautifully cooked joints of meat and tasty hot dishes including fish, casseroles, pies and vegetarian options. In addition to daily Roast Beef, Chef will select from the following succulent roasts: Lamb, Roast Pork with Crackling, Honey Roasted Gammon, Turkey Crown, Chicken, Duckling , Game and more.
 
In the afternoon we will visit the Weald and Downland Open-Air Museum 
Find out how ordinary people lived in Tudor times and other periods. At the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum visitors discover the houses and workplaces of the last 500 years, and it’s all set in 40 glorious acres of the South Downs National Park. At the heart of the Museum’s collection are 50 historic homes, farms and workplaces that have been rescued, dismantled and rebuilt on the site. You can go inside them all. The famous late-15th-century Bayleaf Farmhouse was the setting for the TV series, ‘Tudor Monastery Farm’. To demonstrate how the original occupants lived, many of the houses contain reproduction period furniture, plus the tools and utensils of everyday life. There is an operational 17th-century watermill and a working Tudor kitchen complete with costumed cook. Enjoy the open space, walking through the woods, meeting the traditional-breed farm animals and watching the Shire horses. The Museum keeps alive the skills and traditions of the countryside with demonstrations of countryside crafts and skills.
 
Dinner is independent tonight
 
Overnight: Oakley Hall Hotel
 
 
Day 9: Wednesday
COURTESY COACH DAY
 
Depart Oakley Hall Hotel for Priors Dean Manor House for a private tour.
Priors Dean is privately owned, and its owners have very kindly agreed to showing us around. This is a glorious house with a breathtaking garden. The royal connection with the Manor of Priors Dean started with King John. Henry VIII gave the manor to Katharine Howard, as part of their marriage settlement, and it passed to Anne of Cleves after her death. There is a tiny Saxon church next door. The poet Edward Thomas wrote a wonderful poem about the house called 'Old Manor Farm'. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of his death in the First World War.
 
Depart Priors Dean for Midhurst, Sussex
 
Free time for an independent lunch in Midhurst 
 
Guests can opt to spend the afternoon at Oakley Hall Hotel

The rest of the group will visit the nearby ruins of Cowdray House
Cowdray House, one of England’s great Tudor houses, was partially destroyed by fire in 1793. Its magnificent ruins are set in the stunning landscape of Cowdray Park, in the heart of the South Downs National Park. This was virtually a Tudor palace. Around 1488 Sir David Owen (great-uncle of Henry VIII) married the de Bohun heiress, and after her death in c.1496 acquired ‘Coudreye’. In c.1520-29 Owen gradually demolished Coudreye and began building Cowdray. In 1529 his son illegally sold it to Sir William Fitzwilliam; the latter became Earl of Southampton in 1537. Henry VIII visited Cowdray in 1538.  That year saw Sir William’s half-brother and heir, Anthony Browne, being granted Battle Abbey and a dispossessed monk cursing the family ‘by fire and by water’. Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was imprisoned at Cowdray from November 1538 to September 1539. In 1539 and 1545 Henry VIII again visited Cowdray. The house was inherited by Sir Anthony Browne in 1542, and it passed to his son of the same name in 1548. In 1552 Edward VI visited Cowdray, and complained that the food was too rich. Two years later Sir Anthony Browne was ennobled as 1st Viscount Montague on the marriage of Mary I to Philip of Spain. At the time of the Spanish Armada in 1558,  he was held under house arrest at Cowdray because of his Catholicism. Elizabeth I visited Cowdray in 1591. The famous Cowdray Engravings portray Henry VIII’s campaign in France in 1544 and the Battle of the Solent in 1545. They were commissioned by Sir Anthony Browne and hung on the walls of Cowdray House. Cowdray featured in Anya Seton’s novel, 'Green Darkness'.
 
Depart Oakley Hall Hotel for The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth
The Mary Rose is the only 16th-century warship on display anywhere in the world. The purpose-built award-winning museum reunites her with many of her artefacts and crew, capturing the moment in time when she sank over 470 years ago. Step back in time and explore Henry VIII’s favourite warship – raised from the depths of the Solent and painstakingly conserved for future generations. The story of the Mary Rose is one of the most fascinating in naval history. A tale of battles fought against the French for over 30 years before sinking off the coast of Portsmouth in 1545. It’s an account of her being raised from the seabed more than 470 years later and of her meticulous conservation. The ship captured the world’s imagination when she was raised from the Solent in 1982. Her dramatic story is now revealed in full inside the purpose-built, award-winning £27million Museum, which opened its doors to visitors in May 2013.

We will have an exclusive evening tour of The Mary Rose Museum, followed by a farewell dinner in  the stunning Admiral’s Gallery. All evening events include exclusive access to the Mary Rose Museum, and to the Bridge Balcony, which makes a beautiful location to enjoy a glass of champagne and a canapé whilst looking out over Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.

Overnight: Oakley Hall Hotel
 
 
Day 10: Thursday
 
Check out of Oakley Hall Hotel
 
Depart Oakley Hall Hotel for Dorney Court, Buckinghamshire, for a guided connoisseur tour.
Widely regarded as one of England’s finest Tudor Manor Houses, where successive generations of the Palmer have lived for nearly 500 years,  Dorney Court stands in landscaped gardens and overlooks mature parkland and ancient yew hedges while flocks of sheep graze the surrounding meadows.
The church of St James the Less, which dates back to the Norman Conquest, towers next to the house and the beautiful newly restored coach house barn. Windsor Castle floats in the distance and Dorney Lake lies a short walk away. Dorney is the ancient Saxon word for “island of bees” and the estate remains famous for its honey which is still produced to this day. The very first pineapple to be raised in England was grown at Dorney Court and presented to Charles II in 1661 and the spectre of a bald lady haunts the wood panelled hallways. Dorney Court is very much a family home and visitors will find that the house and grounds have an easy charm and a warmth of welcome that reflect continuing family use and the passion and love of everyone involved with the estate.
Dorney Court has been used as a film and TV location since the 1970s, and has featured in a wide range of productions including 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age', 'The Other Boleyn Girl',  'Inspector Morse' and 'Poirot'.
 
Depart Dorney Court for the Kingsway Hall Hotel, London, and a  farewell afternoon tea.
 
The tour ends after tea.  
 
Please note: All hotels are booked, and AWT aim to run this itinerary as described, but there may be changes due to circumstances beyond AWT’s control, or in the interests of affording a better experience for our guests.