Day 1: Depart for London
Overnight flight to London under own arrangement.
Day 2: Arrive in London
Arrive in London and meet your tour guide at the airport. Enjoy a panoramic tour of London on your way to our Hotel. There is time to rest before our Welcome Dinner at the hotel. (D)
Day 3: Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace.
After our full English Breakfast we depart for a full day of touring. We start at Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. It has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1000 years. It is an official residence of Her Majesty the Queen, whose flag flies from the Round Tower when she is in residence.
Continue to Hampton Court Palace, a royal palace, 11.7 miles south west and upstream of central London on the River Thames. Redevelopment began to be carried out in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII. In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favor, the King seized the palace for himself and later enlarged it. Along with St. James' Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by King Henry VIII. In the following century, King William III's massive rebuilding and expansion project, which destroyed much of the Tudor palace, was intended to rival Versailles. Work ceased in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque. While the palace's styles are an accident of fate, a unity exists due to the use of pink bricks and a symmetrical balancing of successive low wings. King George II was the last monarch to reside in this palace. We return to our hotel for dinner. (B, D)
Day 4: Stonehenge, Westminister Abbey, Big Ben
This morning we depart London for Stonehenge. One of the most famous sites in the wolrd, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthwork. It is at the center of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated back to about 3100BC. Returning to London, we visit Westminister Abbey and see Big Ben. Westminister Abbey was initially built by Henry III in 1245 and it is one of the most important Gothic buildings in England. It was at first home to Benedictine monks, then the Royal Coronation Church and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs, It contains a treasury full of paintings, stain glass, pavements, textiles, various other artifacts and books plus the most significant collection of monumental sculptures of the United Kingdom. We return to our hotel for dinner. (B, D)
Day 5: Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)
After breakfast we depart for our full day at Highclere Castle in Hampshire. This famous castle is used for exterior shots and many of the interior filming of the PBS series, Downton Abbey. However, the kitchen, servants' quarters, working areas, and several "upstairs" bedrooms were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios in London. Highclere Castle is the actual home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. We spend the day exploring the interior, the Egyptian Exhibit and the beautiful gardens. We return to our hotel for dinner. (B, D)
Day 6: Oxfordshire, Waddesdon Manor
Today we visit Bampton & Waddesdon Manor. The village of Bampton in Oxfordshire was used to film outdoor scenes in Downtown Abbey, most notably St. Mary's Church and the library, which served as the entrance to the cottage hospital. Bampton is a bustling village and claims to be one of the oldest and prettiest villages in the area, retaining much of the character of a traditional Cotswold village. We continue on and visit Waddesdon Manor, the estate Sir Richard Carlisle intended to buy in season 2 of Downton Abbey. We have time to explore and experience rural England before returning to London. (B, D)
Day 7: Buckingham Travel and Tower of London
This morning we enjoy a visit to Buckingham Palace. Surrounded by vast parklands and gardens, this grand palace has been the Royal London residence since Queen Victoria's time, and contains priceless works of art, fine furniture and decorations that form part of the Royal Collection. We will have entry to the State Rooms, the Queen's Gallery, and the Royal Mews. The is a self-guided tour with audio guide. Next we visit the Tower of London which is one of London's most famous landmarks. It is in this historic Tower we find the Crown Jewels, the prison cell of Sir Walter Raleigh - known as the Bloody Tower - and the Chapel of St. John and the Royal Armories. We return to our hotel for dinner. (B, D)
Day 8: Return Home
After a final breakfast, we say farewell to our mansion home and transfer to London airport for our return flight home. (B)
PLEASE NOTE: Single rooms are limited availability. Triple rooms are not available. This tour includes considerable walking. There are no elevators at Highclere Castle. The walk up to Windsor Castle can be strenuous. This tour is not recommended for those with walking or breathing difficulties.