Great Britain’s Artists, Authors and Architects their Gardens and Houses

Join this small group tour this September which features on-site guided explorations of the homes and gardens of J. Austen, A. Boleyn, W. Churchill, S.T. Coleridge, A. Christie, C. Darwin, C. Dickens, A.C. Doyle, T. Hardy, T.E. Lawrence, R. Kipling, Wm. Morris, V. Woolf as well as the homes of a dozen artists and architects.

Led by Jean Title a confirmed Anglophile, who attended university in England and has custom-designed numerous group tours in the UK. She has found that artists and authors live in amazing homes with lovely, landscaped gardens which will be beautiful in early September.

This tour will not disappoint! 

Day 1 Saturday August 31

First to immerse ourselves in stately grandeur – Basildon Park, an 18th century stately home overlooking the river Thames was used as the interior of the Crawley’s London House in Downton Abbey.  Let’s also discover the link with Oliver Twist’s Bill Sykes.

Carry on through the Cotswolds to another Downton Abbey landmark, the quaint village of Bampton (aka Downton Village).    The grand finale of the day will be William Morris’s ‘Heaven on Earth’ – Kelmscott Manor, the inspiration to both the Father of the Arts & Crafts Movement and his followers.

Day 2 Sunday September 1

Through the wild west Somerset landscape to Coleridge Cottage, the home of Literary Romanticism and discover if the tailor from Porlock deserves to be forever denigrated.

Explore the wildflower garden, and rooms of the cottage never previously open to the public, which have been recreated as though Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his young family had just stepped out of the door…

Other visits include the ancient and dramatic Dunster Castle and a wander through the 267 square mile Exmoor National Park, famous for its ponies.

Day 3 Monday September 2

We start the day with a visit to Widecombe in the Moor a pretty village on central Dartmoor, most famous for its annual Widecombe Fair.  Find out why Uncle Tom Cobley rode Tom Pearce’s old grey mare.  Drop into the village church or have tea and scones at local bakery/shop

Bog, Fogs and dogs – explore the bleak Dartmoor landscape that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel.   Carry on the mystery them by spending the afternoon at Agatha Christie’s old home, populated by the shades of Miss Marple and Poirot.

Day 4 Tuesday September 3

Explore the 16-sided 1790s marvel, A La Ronde and enjoy the orchard, hay meadow and colourful borders.   This part of the Devon/Dorset landscape is an area of outstanding natural beauty, just like a Thomas Hardy heroine; and it is his house in Dorchester that we visit next, as well as the far humbler but even more charming, thatched cottage where he was born.

Day 5 Wednesday September 4

Explore the rural retreat of Lawrence of Arabia at Clouds Hill, from a huge day bed for reading in a room full of books, to the shed where he kept his beloved motorbike.  Then on to Kingston Lacy – a horticultural masterpiece,  a gallery with Rubens & Titian, and a Venetian palazzo

Day 6 Thursday  September 5

Marvel at the 800-foot-long D-Day hand-stitched tapestry, visit the birthplace of Charles Dickens and overnight in the Regency splendour of Brighton.

Visit the Royal Pavilion Experience a fantasy palace fit for a king.  The spectacular seaside palace of the Prince Regent (George IV) transformed by John Nash between 1815 and 1823 into one of the most dazzling and exotic buildings in the British Isles.  The Royal Pavilion mixes Regency grandeur with Indian architecture and Chinese inspired interiors. Along with beautifully restore Regency gardens.

Day 7 Friday September 6

Wonderful! Charleston House was the home of the Bloomsbury group and its walled garden is quintessentially a painters’ garden.  Designed as living painting and filled with sculpture, Charleston’s garden continues to evolve and inspire.

Explore Monks House the country retreat of the novelist Virginia Woolf, where she wrote many of her most celebrated novels. The house is steeped in Leonard and Virginia’s personalities, as if they have just stepped out for a walk. Home to a beautiful English country garden designed by Leonard Woolf, surrounded by incredible views of the Sussex Downs. With borders packed full of herbaceous perennials, climbers adorning flint walls, a productive orchard and water features, this compact garden is as charming as the house itself.

Day 8 Saturday  September 7

Red House is the only house designed, built and lived in by William Morris, the pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement. This was the birthplace of this decorative style and a haven for the Pre-Raphaelite artists.  The warm-red brick building of Red House is enclosed by its gardens, stocked with flowers and plants chosen to evoke the time when William Morris lived here, and to work in harmony with the appearance of the house.

Down House was Charles Darwin’s family home.  Step into the very rooms where Charles Darwin worked and lived, including the study where he wrote On the Origin of Species, and trace his story with a fascinating exhibition about his life and work. The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens that acted as Darwin’s ‘living laboratory’.

Day 9 Sunday September 8

Standen House

A full and glorious day including Standen House, Webb’s Arts and Crafts masterpiece, Rudyard Kipling’s 17th Century Batemans and the icing on the cake, Chagall’s dramatic stained glass windows at Tudeley All Saint’s.

Discover Standen House, a creative masterpiece designed by Philip Webb, taking inspiration from the local Sussex vernacular, and furnished by Morris & Co. Standen was the Beale family’s country retreat from 1894 and today you will still find the warm, welcoming feel of the home they planned.

Bateman’s is very much a family home that feels as though the Kiplings have just gone out for the day. Surrounded by the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald, with its mullioned windows and oak beams, it provided a much-needed sanctuary to world-famous writer Rudyard Kipling and inspired his work.  The rooms, described by him as ‘untouched and unfaked’, remain much as he left them, with oak furniture, Persian rugs and artefacts reflecting his strong association with India.

Day 10 Monday September 9

Chartwell

Today we visit Winston Churchill’s Chartwell and Anne Boleyn’s (and more recently William Waldorf Astor), Hever Castle.

Chartwell home of Sir Winston Churchill and his family. Filled with treasures, gifts and personal belongings, presented as they knew it.  Gardens include walled garden and Formal rose garden designed by Lady Churchill. Leads into the terrace lawn with views over surrounding estate and countryside.

Set in 125 acres of glorious grounds, Hever Castle was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. During your visit you will discover award-winning gardens and a rich and varied history.

Day 11 Tuesday September 10

Smallhythe is our first stop – home of the remarkable Victorian actress Ellen Terr

Built in the early 16th-century when Smallhythe was a thriving shipbuilding port, Smallhythe Place was later purchased by renowned Victorian actress, Ellen Terry, in 1899. A year after her passing in 1928 her daughter, Edith Craig, transformed the house into a museum which now displays a fascinating personal and theatrical collection that reflects Ellen’s extraordinary career and unconventional private life.

Historic, poetic, iconic: a refuge dedicated to beauty. Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson fell in love with Sissinghurst Castle and created a world-renowned garden. Discover why Sissinghurst is famous as the epitome of the English garden and explore its series of garden rooms, each filled with different planting schemes and unique designs. Heralded for its beauty and diversity, the garden is a result of the creative tension between Harold Nicolson’s formal design and the exuberant planting of Vita Sackville-West.

Day 12 Wednesday September 11

A day of manners – the wild Wyndhams and Seymors at Petworth, seasoned by the milder middle-class manners of Jane Austen – where you will learn why not to oil a squeaking hinge.

Here, in this inspiring Hampshire cottage, Jane Austen lived for the last eight years of her life. Here her genius flourished, and she wrote, revised and had published all six of her globally beloved novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The pretty garden is a perfect place to relax after your visit.

Discover Chawton House the ‘Great House’ referred to in Jane Austen’s letters, now sensitively restored, relax in the peace and tranquility of the gardens, and find inspiration in the lives and works of our women writers.

Day 13 Thursday September 12

Start the penultimate day with a private garden tour of Gertrude Jekyll’s Munstead Wood‘s with head gardener Annabel Watts.

Munstead Wood’s 11-acre garden surrounds an Arts and Crafts house that showcases Jekyll’s collaboration with architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. It’s the place where, from the 1890s to her death in 1932, Jekyll grew her influence on national and international garden design, transformed horticultural practice, and inspired others to become gardeners through her books and more than 1,000 articles.

All good things come to an end and we enjoy our final visit at Watts Gallery an Artists’ Village that offers a unique insight into the life and work of ‘England’s Michelangelo’ George Frederic Watts and the designer and artist Mary Watts (including his marriage to Ellen Terry.

A farewell dinner at our Heathrow Airport.

  • Friday 30 August – Heathrow Crown Plaza

  • Saturday 31 August – Marriott Royal Hotel

  • Sunday 1 & Monday 2 September – The Mill on the Exe

  • Tuesday 3 September & Wednesday 4 September – Wessex Royale Hotel 

  • Thursday 5 September & Friday 6 September – Malmaison Brighton

  • Saturday, Sunday & Monday 7, 8, 9 September – The Spa Hotel Tunbridge Wells

  • Tuesday 10 September & Wednesday 11 September – The Talbot Inn Ripley

  • Thursday 12 September – Crowne Plaza Hotel Heathrow