7 days/7 nights from London
Our explorations follow the haunts of William Shakespeare in and around his home town of Stratford-Upon-Avon and London. This is a theatre tour, a literary heritage adventure, a garden sampler and a general interest focus on London and the Midlands. The tour will feature quaint villages, beautiful stately homes, a castle and gardens throughout the Heart of England and around the capital, all stunningly beautiful in their own right and many of which have Tudor connections, some which would have been known to the Bard. Go backstage to 3 of the UK’s top theatres, experience a theatre workshop and have opportunity to attend a variety of performances.
Day 1: 17 April, SU. Departing London at 09:30, our first destination is Hatfield House, one of the ‘Treasure Houses of England’ and where Queen Elizabeth I spent most of her childhood. The deer park here was then owned by Henry VIII; it was here that Elizabeth learned of her accession to the throne in 1558. Explore the house, home to the Cecil family for over 400 years, and its superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship. Also spend time in Hatfield West Gardens featuring a scented garden, herb garden and the famous knot garden.
Oxford is a destination on almost any English itinerary, with good reason! This is the jewel in the literary crown (Lewis Carroll, Tolkien and connections to modern creations Inspector Morse & Harry Potter) but it is the ‘dreaming spires’ which is the main draw. Many of the colleges here were endowed during the Tudor period by Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII. During a walking tour, we will see Christchurch, originally known as ‘Cardinal College’ then ‘King Henry VIII’s college’ among other highlights. We will be based in the Cotswolds region for our first few days. This area is known for charming, honey-thatched cottage villages, a wide range of lovely gardens and quaint shops. During our time over these few days, enjoy a bit of meandering, discovering a few local treasures that those on big coaches miss. A welcome dinner together tonight is included in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Overnight: Stratford-Upon-Avon, DBB; Property: Swan’s Nest Hotel or similar.
Day 2: 18 April, MO. Our whole day will be spent in Stratford-Upon-Avon, so you have ample time to discover the charming town and Shakespeare connections. You’re spoilt for choice here – visit the local church, burial place for the Bard, and the well known iconic sites such as his Birthplace. You will have free time to wander the cobbled streets, shopping and relaxing as you wish. Your guide will be on hand for a walking tour, advice and assistance but the day is yours to spend as you decide. A Stratford 5 Houses Pass is included as part of your tour package. Also included during our time in Stratford is a special Backstage Experience at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Dinner is not included this evening for flexibility’s sake and the opportunity, dependent upon schedules, to attend a performance at the RSC. There’s a wonderful viewing tower and highly rated restaurant so worth a visit in any case. Overnight: Stratford-Upon-Avon, BB
Day 3: 19 April, TU. This morning, we can take advantage of Stratford-Upon-Avon as our overnight location to avoid the hoards of daytrippers from London! We can visit the ‘out of town’ Shakespeare Houses, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm, as we choose en-route to Kenilworth.
Kenilworth Castle was visited by Queen Elizabeth I at least 4 times, then the home of her favorite companion Robert Dudley. Reportedly she was once entertained here for 19 days straight, an almost never-ending series of lavish feasts, music, hunting and plays! Supposedly one William Shakespeare was a participant and that the events he witnessed that July 1575 inspired his Midsummer Night’s Dream. Today Kenilworth is a magnificent ruin with immaculately re-constructed Elizabethan gardens, as originally designed by Dudley for the Queen. Another free evening in Stratford offers the option to attend a RSC performance for those that wish. ON Stratford-Upon-Avon, BB.
Day 4: 20 April, WE. Today is another opportunity to travel via the lovely Cotswolds villages to visit two of the areas better stately homes and gardens.
Coughton Court has been home of the Throckmorton family since 1409. Framed by an Elizabethan half timbered courtyard are the gardens, described as “breathtaking” by the Royal Horticultural Society. Surely a place worthy of some time! Sudley Castle has connections running through the Tudor Dynasty and court circle. It was home to three queens, houses the marble tomb of Katherine Parr (the wife of Henry VIII who survived him) and where scandal left its impression on the future Queen Elizabeth I. Here find seven enchanting gardens including a Tudor Knot garden with water features and a delightful mosaic. This afternoon, we will make our way into London, enjoying a traditional Afternoon Tea in Burford together en-route. ON: London, BB; Property: Regency Hotel or similar.
Day 5: 21 April, TH. Today spend time in Windsor, taking the scenic route via Richmond, a neighbourhood where many celebrities call home and what once was King Henry VIII’s favourite hunting ground. Merry Wives of Windsor is said to have been commissioned especially by the Virgin Queen, who enjoyed the plays of Shakespeare and wanted to see more of the character Falstaff. Windsor Castle is over 900 years old, having begun construction under William the Conqueror, and is still the main Royal residence for the Monarchy. This was Henry VIII’s favorite residence, especially for hunting. He is buried on the grounds in St George’s Chapel alongside his 3rd wife, Jane Seymour. Elizabeth I spent much time here too, regarding it as a safe haven “knowing it could stand a siege if need be.” This evening is open so you can enjoy attending the theatre, performance of your choice. ON London, BB.
Day 6: 22 April, FR. Full day in London to incorporate Shakespeare 400 events (yet to be published at time of loading this itinerary – we will update accordingly as schedules become available.) Guests will have independent time as well as group activities during these two days in London. Today and tomorrow, your tour package includes backstage tours at National Theatre & Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre plus an educational workshop by Globe education. Shakespeare 400 partners include: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Royal Opera House, Barbican, National Theatre London. This evening is open so you can enjoy attending the theatre, performance of your choice. See what’s on here: http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/. ON London, BB
Day 7: 23 April, SA. National Shakespeare Day and St. George's Day. Enjoy another full day in London. Today we celebrate National Shakespeare Day! Historians believe Shakespeare was born on 23 April, 1564, the same day he died, 23 April, 1616. His death is officially recorded but little is known of his early life and his birth date is an educated guess by scholars. There are special events on annually for Shakespeare enthusiasts and this year is made even more special as it marks the 400th Anniversary of his passing. Today offers the option to participate in Shakespeare 400 special events. (Again, yet to be published at time of loading this itinerary – we will update accordingly as schedules become available.). Shakespeare 400 partners include: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Royal Opera House, Barbican, National Theatre London…
Today also marks St George’s Day, England’s patron saint. 23 April is also the anniversary of his death, 303 AD. According to legend, St George was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon and saved a princess. Surely we will see the flag of St George’s cross flown across London today. This evening, a Groundling (standing) ticket at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is included. Being a Groundling is an exceptional experience, in the pit you are part of the show! (There is the option of seated tickets, subject to availability and for the appropriate supplemental cost, for those that feel they are unable to stand.). ON London, BB.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original itinerary, property of ours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with us.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times that we could not have been aware of at the time of loading this tour to our website.
Want to extend your stay? More Tudor Heritage in/around London:
Along with the Tudor Kitchens, Henry VIII’s State Apartments are the most popular attraction inside Hampton Court Palace. The Great Hall is the palace’s largest and most impressive room, with an ornate carved-wood ceiling and a collection of Flemish tapestries that date back over 500 years. Hampton Court Palace is set in over 60 acres of gardens and parklands along the scenic River Thames. You won’t want to miss the Great Vine (planted by Capability Brown, also celebrating a special anniversary, 300 years on) the rose gardens, Privy Gardens inspired by William of Orange, the Tiltyard and the famous Yew tree hedge Maze. There is one of the few ‘real’ tennis courts to be seen here too.
There is also the Palace of Lambeth, called “the only place in London where, right from the road, you are confronted by Tudor London.” Though the palace itself is not opened to the public, the Palace Gardens, among the oldest and largest gardens in London, are open year round.
Further along the river, there’s Eltham Palace in Greenwich. The medieval Great Hall here is where a young future Henry VIII spent many of his formative years.
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