Exploring the Literary Landscapes of England

22 May – 11 Jun 2015

  • Region:
    • Europe
    • United Kingdom
  • Status: closed
  • Code: 21508
Overview

Tour Highlights

  • Travel with Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, with the assistance of Kay Schneider as ASA tour manager, exploring the England of English literature.
  • See places where Jane Austen lived and which she put into her novels with the President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia as your guide
  • Take the scenic drive through the glorious Wye Valley to Tintern Abbey, listening to Wordsworth’s great poem as you travel
  • Walk and drive through the lovely Lake District which inspired so many famous poets and writers
  • Enjoy Othello at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Play a game of Poohsticks in the Hundred Acre Wood, where Christopher Robin and his friends invented the game
  • Visit Batemans’, Kipling’s glorious Sussex home
  • Explore historic English cities such as Canterbury, Winchester, Salisbury, Bath and York
  • Walk the Bronte’s moors and visit their home.

21 days in England

Overnight Canterbury (4 nights) • Winchester (3 nights) • Bath (4 nights) • York (3 nights) • Lakes District (2 nights) • Stratford-upon-Avon (2 nights) • London (2 nights).

Overview

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England

Visiting places connected with literature brings the excitement of recognizing homes and landscapes long familiar to the imagination, of connecting loved novels and poems with the lives and environments of the authors and seeing first hand the countryside they described. We will visit writers’ homes, view original manuscripts and enjoy theatre performances. In gardens, ruins, castles, villages, churches and graveyards we will examine the effect of environment on a writer and investigate the role played by a sense of place in literary creation. You will discover how the elegant classicism of Bath influenced Jane Austen, how a bleak industrial landscape shaped D.H. Lawrence and what it was about the wild moors that fired the Brontës’ imaginations.

The tour begins in Chaucer’s Canterbury, moves through the gentle Hampshire countryside of Jane Austen to the Dorset of Thomas Hardy. James Herriot’s Yorkshire, the lakes of the Romantic poets and Shakespeare’s Stratford are included. Special visits to homes not open to the general public are arranged. Every reader enjoys bookshops – the tour includes the opportunity to browse in the world’s largest second-hand book centre, Hay-on-Wye. Childhood favourites are not forgotten. We visit Beatrix Potter’s charming farmhouse and play poohsticks on the original Poohsticks Bridge. Throughout the tour our exploration of literary landscapes is enriched by dramatic readings and expert guides. Discover on this tour the literary delights of ‘this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England’!

About the Tour

Once there was a Malaysian professor of English, a great lover of Wordsworth, who on visiting England for the first time was in a taxi in London when he saw some dandelions growing on a bomb site. He stopped the taxi, got out and kneeling down by the dandelions, reverently recited Wordsworth’s poem about the daffodils.

Of course, a great work of literary imagination has its own life and can be appreciated without knowledge of the objects and places mentioned in it, and yet, as this story illustrates, an understanding of the environment and experiences of the author can enormously enrich our appreciation of literature. Visiting places connected with literature brings the excitement of recognising places we have long known in our imaginations and the thrill of gaining new perceptions into literary works.

To connect the works with the authors’ lives, to see first hand the landscapes they described, to walk through the houses in which they lived and to see the original manuscripts of their novels and poems – these can only be described as awe-inspiring and magical experiences.

This tour offers you an enriching opportunity. We will follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen, Dickens, the Brontës, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Dr Johnson and many other classic writers. Modern writers and film directors of popular novels have also been inspired by English literary landscape. Lacock Abbey, as seen in Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Lyme Regis John Fowles captured so memorably in The French Lieutenant’s Woman – these places have also been included in the tour. Sometimes this will be a sentimental journey as you are reminded of poems once learnt, but long forgotten, or of childhood stories. Playing poohsticks in the Hundred Acre Wood on the very bridge where ‘Poohsticks’ was invented will bring back many memories!

The tour begins in Canterbury and ends in London. Literary shrines visited will be as varied as the authors themselves – homes, castles, gardens, theatres, ruins, National Parks, villages, churches and cathedrals are all included in the itinerary. In these places we will investigate the role played by a sense of place in literary creation and in an appreciation of literature. We will examine the effect of environment on a writer – just how did a bleak industrial landscape shape D.H.Lawrence? In what ways did the elegant classicism of Georgian Bath influence Jane Austen? How did a cathedral close inspire Trollope, what was it about the wild moors which fired the imaginations of the Brontës? This will be a journey through varied physical landscapes, but also through the varied minds and imaginations of great writers.

We will be joined at different times by people who have written about great writers. Their expertise, talks and presentations will greatly add to our enjoyment. Susannah will brief us on all house visits and locations and will provide dramatic readings of poems, letters and extracts from novels, when appropriate.

Most of the great authors featured in this tour are dead, but there is nothing dead about the works they left behind them. Great literature should be a ‘live’ experience and therefore included in the tour are performances of plays and dramatic presentations. Film has brought classic novels to life for many people and so, accordingly, we will visit places used as film locations.

It is not possible to include in the tour all the literary landmarks of England. Many wonderful spots have had to be left out. The tour aims to be informative, varied and fun. You will travel in the company of Australians who share your fascination with good literature. Treat yourself and discover the glories of “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”!

Itinerary

The following itinerary lists a range of museums, heritage properties and gardens etc which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.

Canterbury - 4 nights

Day 1: Friday 22 May, Arrive London Heathrow, Cobham – Chalk – Higham – Cooling – Rochester – Canterbury
  • Morning Tea at the Leather Bottle Inn, Cobham
  • Dickens drive through village of Chalk and past Gad’s Hill house in Higham
  • Churchyard, Village of Cooling
  • Walking tour of Rochester
  • Introductory Meeting

After an early morning arrival in London, we travel to the village of Cobham and enjoy a morning tea at the Leather Bottle Inn, one of Dickens’s favourite places and a venue for some of the eating and drinking done in The Pickwick Papers. Today the walls are decorated with an extensive collection of Dickensian memorabilia including, pictures, cartoons, photographs and illustrations. We drive on to Rochester via the little village of Chalk where Dickens and his wife Catherine enjoyed their honeymoon, and past Dickens’ beloved home Gad’s Hill, then we make a stop at Cooling churchyard, setting for the spellbinding opening chapter of Great Expectations.

From his earliest novel Pickwick Papers to his last, unfinished, Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens made Rochester a setting for his books. We will enjoy a walk through the charming higgledy-piggledy streets of the town to see the original homes of Miss Havisham and Edwin Drood, and will see the Swiss Chalet where Dickens did much of his writing. There will also be free time to explore the local bookshops.

Mid-afternoon we continue our journey south to Canterbury, following the route taken by Chaucer’s ‘Wife of Bath’ and her fellow travellers. Leisure and relaxation after your trip is followed by a housekeeping meeting at your hotel. The remainder of the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Canterbury)

Day 2: Saturday 23 May, Canterbury
  • Morning Literary walking tour including Canterbury Cathedral
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Theatrical performance and Evening Welcome Meal

Canterbury, founded in Roman times, is rich with associations of Chaucer, Marlowe, Dickens, Somerset Maugham and even Rupert Bear. We commence the day with a walking tour through the literary places of Canterbury, including a guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral.

The afternoon is free for you to explore Canterbury at your leisure. This evening we shall gather together at our hotel for a private theatrical performance by Teresa Gallagher, followed by a welcome meal. (Overnight Canterbury) BD

Day 3: Sunday 24 May, Canterbury – Penshurst – Sissinghurst – Canterbury
  • Penshurst Place & Garden
  • Sissinghurst Castle Garden

After breakfast we travel to Penshurst Place. In 1586 a brilliant man died fighting in Holland and the literary world was the poorer for his death. Sir Philip Sidney, Elizabethan courtier and poet, was a true Renaissance man in every way. Sidney’s home was Penshurst Place, seat of one of England’s most powerful families, and it is hard to imagine a more lovely home for a poet. After Sidney’s death Ben Jonson paid tribute to him in a poem To Penshurst.

We shall tour the house and then explore Penshurst’s magnificent gardens. Penshurst’s state rooms have a large collection of paintings, tapestries and furniture, acquired through the centuries by generations of the Sidney family. After a group lunch at Penshurst, we will travel the short distance to Vita Sackville-West’s famous garden at Sissinghurst Castle, judged by many to be the best garden in England. We can visit the superb old library and the tower room, where Vita wrote her novels, looking out over her wonderful garden. (Overnight Canterbury) BL

Day 4: Monday 25 May, Canterbury – Rye – Burwash – Ashdown Forest – Hartfield – Canterbury
  • Lamb House: Home of Henry James
  • Bateman’s: Home of Rudyard Kipling
  • Pooh Corner Bookshop and Poohsticks Bridge, Hartfield

In the morning we will set off for Rye, Henry James’s “haven on the hill-top”, where he settled in Lamb House. In this house, which we will explore, he was visited by Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling, E.M.Forster, Joseph Conrad and E.F.Benson. Rye is a writers’ paradise and a walk through its picturesque streets awakens the imagination of any receptive visitor.

We will then travel a short distance to the village of Burwash to see Bateman’s, the mellow seventeenth century home of Rudyard Kipling from 1902-36. Kipling’s study has been kept exactly as he used it for thirty years. There he wrote If, which has been voted the most popular of all English poems.

Near Bateman’s is Ashdown Forest, better known to children all around the world as ‘The Hundred Acre Wood’. A.A.Milne lived with his wife and Christopher Robin at Cotchford Farm and was inspired by the forest to send Pooh and Piglet hunting woozles there. We will take a walk through the wood to the original Poohsticks Bridge, where we can all play ‘Poohsticks’. If time permits we will also visit the Pooh Bookshop in Hartfield village, before returning to Canterbury. (Overnight Canterbury) B

Winchester - 3 nights

Day 5: Tuesday 26 May, Canterbury – Box Hill – Chawton – Winchester
  • Morning tea at Box Hill
  • Jane Austen’s House, Chawton
  • Chawton House Library

Today we will travel through the green rolling hills of southern England to Box Hill, setting for Jane Austen’s ill-fated picnic in Emma. Now owned by the National Trust, the hill was well-known to Fanny Burney, Sheridan and Keats. Our morning tea picnic there is sure to be more successful than Emma’s picnic!

From Box Hill we travel to Chawton, a modest redbrick house which was Jane Austen’s home from 1809-17. Here she re-worked and wrote her six masterpieces. We will see her bedroom and the famous squeaking door that reminded her to hide her manuscripts from prying eyes.

Following lunch, we shall enjoy a private visit to Chawton Great House and its library to view its collection that focuses on rare and unique works written by women in English during the period 1600 to 1830, such as the original manuscript of Jane Austen’s dramatic adaptation of Samuel Richardson’s novel The History of Sir Charles Grandison. We shall also visit Chawton church where Jane Austen’s mother and sister are buried.

This evening we enjoy a group meal at the hotel. (Overnight Winchester) BD

Day 6: Wednesday 27 May, Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester – New Forest – Minstead – Salisbury – Winchester
  • Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester
  • New Forest Drive
  • Salisbury Cathedral and Close
  • Cathedral of Winchester
  • Literary Walking Tour: Keats and Watermeadow by Susannah Fullerton

After breakfast we travel a very short distance to the Hospital of St. Cross, where we will receive the wayfarers’ dole of bread and ale. It was the Victorian scandal of this medieval almshouse’s wealth which inspired Trollope to write The Warden, thus immortalising the building as Hiram’s Hospital.

We travel a short distance to the New Forest, setting for Captain Marryat’s Civil War tale The Children of the New Forest. We will enjoy a drive through this beautiful forest with its roaming ponies.

Nearby Salisbury is another cathedral town which has inspired writers. Trollope, Dickens and Hardy all used it as a setting and Hardy described its cathedral as “the most graceful architectural pile in England”. We will explore the cathedral close of what Dickens called this “exceeding wild and dissipated city”.

We travel back to Winchester in the afternoon. Jane Austen is buried in the cathedral there and we will visit her grave. Winchester has many literary associations – Keats, miserable over his tuberculosis and his love for Fanny Brawne walked its streets (it was while walking through autumnal fields outside Winchester that he was inspired to write Ode to Autumn) and Izaak Walton, when he wasn’t fishing, was steward to Winchester’s Bishop. We will take a walk through its picturesque streets, see the house where Jane Austen died (exterior only) and follow in the footsteps of Keats by the Itchen river. (Overnight Winchester) B

Day 7: Thursday 28 May, Winchester – Lyme Regis – Dorchester – Winchester
  • Writer’s Gallery, Phillpot Museum
  • Max Gate: Home of Thomas Hardy
  • Dorset County Museum

This morning, our coach drive takes us to the Dorset coast. “A very strange stranger it must be who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme”, wrote Jane Austen in Persuasion. Her memorable scene, where Louisa Musgrove falls down the steps on the Cobb, has drawn literary pilgrims such as Tennyson to Lyme for generations. We will walk Lyme’s Cobb, see the house where Jane stayed and Captain Harville’s cottage. More recently, Lyme was used by John Fowles in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. He became a fixture there – local historian and museum curator. We will visit the Phillpot Museum, which has an excellent writers’ gallery.

In the afternoon we will visit Max Gate, the home Hardy designed himself (he trained as an architect) and where he and his wife lived in silent hostility together. We will then drive back to Winchester via Dorchester to visit ‘The Literary Gallery’ of the Dorset County Museum which explores the lives and work of Dorset’s authors, poets and novelists. It includes a reconstruction of Thomas Hardy’s third study from his home at Max Gate. All the furniture, books and personal possessions in the room originally belonged to Hardy including the pens which he used to write Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. (Overnight Winchester) B

Bath - 4 nights

Day 8: Friday 29 May, Winchester – Amesbury – Bath
  • Literary Walking tour of Winchester including The Great Hall (Round Table & Queen Eleanor’s Garden)
  • The Gravel Walk, Bath

This morning we walk up Winchester’s historic High Street, to the Great Hall, to see the Round Table. The hall is one of the finest surviving medieval halls in the country, and on its wall hangs the huge round table, reputed to be King Arthur’s, subject of hundreds of stories and legends. We now know that it dates from some centuries later, but it is still an object of great mystique and well worth seeing. Behind the hall is the fabulous Queen Eleanor’s Garden, a recreation of a 13th C garden. Both Queen Eleanor of Castile and Queen Eleanor of Provence spent time in Winchester and records of their royal gardens have been used in this superb recreation.

We then set off for Bath, stopping en route in Amesbury, a picturesque Wiltshire village with its own important stone circle. After lunch we continue our journey to Bath where after checking into our hotel, we shall enjoy a pleasant walk along the Gravel Walk, which runs along the rear of Brock Street and joins the Royal Crescent to the Circus in Bath and which is used by Jane Austen in Persuasion. (Overnight Bath) B

Day 9: Saturday 30 May, Bath
  • Literary Walking tour of Bath
  • Prior Park Landscape Gardens
  • Afternoon at leisure

Our day begins in the heart of the Georgian city with a walk to view the exterior of Bath Abbey (there will be time later in the day to go inside to admire the magnificent fan vaulting of the ceiling) and to enjoy a walk including Pulteney bridge, Laura Place (home of Lady Dalrymple in Persuasion) and some of the streets connected with famous writers. Few cities have been visited and written about by so many writers – Samuel Pepys, Sheridan, Fielding, Dickens, Goldsmith, Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, Frances Burney and many more.

We will then take a short excursion out of Bath to visit Prior Park. The glorious gardens were designed with advice from the poet Alexander Pope and Capability Brown, and the property was owned by Bath entrepreneur Ralph Allen, who was the model for Squire Allworthy in Fielding’s novel Tom Jones. We can admire the Palladian bridge and wander through some of the paths of this Georgian garden.

At one time considered the raciest place in England, Bath offers excellent shops and excellent museums (the Roman Bath Museum, the Costume Museum, the Holbourne Museum, the American Museum, the Building of Bath Museum, the 1 Royal Crescent Museum and the Jane Austen Centre) which can be explored at leisure during the afternoon. (Overnight Bath) B

Day 10: Sunday 31 May, Bath – Nether Stowey – Porlock – Exmoor NP – Bath
  • Coleridge Cottage, Nether Stowey
  • Guided walk and drive through Lorna Doone country
  • Visits to Exmoor towns of Porlock & Malmsmead
  • Visit to Oare Church
  • Afternoon tea at the Lorna Doone Hotel

This morning we travel to Nether Stowey where Coleridge was resident for many years and we visit the home where the poet wrote his finest poems, Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

After lunch we visit Exmoor, an area of “outstanding natural beauty” and the setting for R.D.Blackmore’s famous novel of love and violence, Lorna Doone. We will walk into the beautiful Doone Valley and see some of the places mentioned in the novel including Oare Church, where Lorna is shot on her wedding day by the villainous Carver Doone.

Note: the narrow road network in the Exmoor National Park does not allow large coach access. Therefore the group will travel in a smaller vehicle for the afternoon program. Please note that this smaller vehicle doesn’t have air-conditioning.

This evening we enjoy a group meal at the hotel. (Overnight Bath) BD

Day 11: Monday 1 June, Bath – Tintern – Castle Combe – Lacock Abbey – Bath
  • Blaise Hamlet
  • Cistercian Abbey of Tintern
  • Village of Castle Combe
  • Walking tour of the National Trust village of Lacock

We travel first to Blaise Hamlet, a collection of nine picturesque cottages designed by John Nash in 1809 for John Harford, to accommodate Blaise Estate pensioners. The hamlet is in the grounds of Blaise Castle, the Gothic-style folly built in 1766 by Thomas Farr and discussed by the characters in Northanger Abbey.

We then cross briefly into Wales where the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey at Tintern inspired one of Wordsworth’s greatest poems, Tintern Abbey.

With its river, 14thC market cross, and pretty golden stone houses, Castle Combe has good claim to be “the prettiest village in England”, as it is often called. It was used for Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, home of Dr Dolittle, in the musical version of Hugh Lofting’s novel. It is a popular film set and will be familiar to watchers of Agatha Christie adaptations as well.

We leave Castle Combe and travel to the National Trust village of Lacock. The village, dating from the thirteenth century, has many lime-washed, half-timbered and stone houses. It was used as a location in the TV and film productions of Pride and Prejudice, Moll Flanders, Emma, Tom Brown’s Schooldays and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (Overnight Bath) B

York - 3 nights

Day 12: Tuesday 2 June, Bath – Eastwood – Newstead Abbey – York
  • D.H.Lawrence Centre & Birthplace Museum, Eastwood
  • Newstead Abbey

We travel north first thing to Eastwood, the “country of my heart” for D.H.Lawrence. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, a small mining town, and his birthplace is now a museum. We will also visit the D.H.Lawrence Centre with its displays on the lives of the coal miners and on Lawrence’s connections with the town.

Just north of Eastwood is the home of a very different man and writer to D.H.Lawrence. Newstead Abbey is the ancestral home of the Byrons and was inherited by Lord Byron when he was only ten. Here we will explore the extensive house and gardens, see the blasphemous monument he erected to his dog and the bedroom where he carried on numerous affairs (including one with his half-sister!).

We travel on to York, a magnificent cathedral city rich with literary associations. (Overnight York) B

Day 13: Wednesday 3 June, York
  • Morning tour of York Minster
  • Leisure time for exploring York’s Museums
  • Optional Evening walk with Susannah exploring Medieval York

We begin our day at York’s superb Minster, northern Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral. It was visited by Anne Brontë only a few days before her death and was where novelist Laurence Sterne preached sermons.

The remainder of the day is at leisure for you to explore York’s museums. You may wish to join Susannah for an optional evening walk to see some of York’s historic buildings lit up by night. (Overnight York) B

Day 14: Thursday 4 June, York – Gomersal – Haworth – York
  • The Red House, Gomersal
  • Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth
  • Haworth Church and Graveyard
  • Walk to Haworth Moor

Today we travel across the Yorkshire Moors to visit the Red House in Gomersal, a village south of Bradford. This was once the home of Charlotte Brontë’s close friend Mary Taylor and is beautifully furnished as a family home of the 1830s. Charlotte visited there often and the Taylors appear as the “Yorkes” and the house as “Briarmains” in her novel Shirley. ‘The Secret’s Out’ exhibition tells the story of Charlotte Brontë’s connections with the area and the friendships she developed locally.

Midday we continue our journey to Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters. Many parts of the village have not changed since the time of the Brontës – one can still enjoy a drink in Branwell Brontë’s local pub The Black Bull, visit the church and walk the moors which fired the imaginations of the sisters and which feature so memorably in their works.

After lunch we will visit the Parsonage Museum and will sit in the overly full graveyard to hear a selection of Brontë poems, read by Susannah. All the Brontës, apart from Anne (who is buried at Scarborough), are buried in what was the old church. This was demolished, apart from the tower, in 1879, but the Brontë family vault was left undisturbed.

If the weather is not “wuthering” we shall take one of the many footpaths that lead onto Haworth Moor. The footpaths lead to Brontë Falls, Brontë Bridge and the Brontë Stone and, eventually, to Top Withens, a ruin on a windy hillside, thought to be the setting of Wuthering Heights. The walk would be too long to reach those sites, but we can experience the atmosphere of the moors which meant so much to the three sisters. (Overnight York) B

Keswick - 2 nights

Day 15: Friday 5 June, York – Thirsk – Castlerigg – Keswick
  • ‘The World of James Herriot’ Centre, Thirsk
  • Castlerigg Stone Circle
  • Optional evening lakeside stroll: John Ruskin’s monument & Squirrel Nutkin’s island

We leave York and set off for the beautiful Lake District, an area of rugged mountains, green valleys and fine lakes which has provided inspiration to so many poets.

En route we call in at the bustling market town of Thirsk. James Alfred Wight (James Herriot) moved to Thirsk to work as a country vet with Donald Sinclair in July 1940. Here we shall visit his original surgery ‘Skeldale House’ located at No. 23 Kirkgate which has now been turned into ‘The World of James Herriot’ Centre.

On entering the Lake District we go to Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain, consisting of thirty-eight stones in a circle approximately thirty metres in diameter. Within the ring is a rectangle of a further ten standing stones. The construction contains significant astronomical alignments. You will see why the spot appealed to Keats and Wordsworth.

We continue on to the grey-stone Lake District town of Keswick, where, weather permitting, there will be an evening stroll down to the lake to see the monument to Victorian sage John Ruskin and Squirrel Nutkin’s island, so beautifully drawn by Beatrix Potter, before enjoying a group meal at the hotel.  (Overnight Keswick) BD

Day 16: Saturday 6 June, Keswick – Grasmere – Hawkshead – Keswick
  • Dove Cottage, Grasmere
  • Tombstone of William Wordsworth, St. Oswald’s Church, Grasmere
  • Ann Tyson’s cottage & The Grammar School, Hawkshead
  • Hill Top Farm – Beatrix Potter Museum, nr. Sawrey
  • Reception at Rydal Mount House and Garden

This morning we begin our trail of Wordsworth, supreme poet of the Lakes. We travel first to Dove Cottage where he settled with Dorothy in 1799. Built in the early seventeenth century, with its oak-panelled hall and floors of Westmorland slate, Dove Cottage remains very much as it was when Wordsworth lived there. Next door is an exhibition centre with displays on Wordsworth and his contemporaries.

In 1850 William caught a cold on a country walk, and he died on 23 April, St. George’s Day, eighty years after his birth. He and his wife Mary, who died nine years later, have simple tombstones in the churchyard of St. Oswald’s Church in Grasmere, now one of the most visited literary shrines in the world.

A short drive will take us to Hawkshead, still the same tiny village of higgledy-piggledy houses, archways and squares beloved by Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Whilst at school in Hawkshead, William lodged with Ann Tyson and her husband. Ann Tyson’s cottage is a private home, which we will see during our walk around the town. The legal office where Beatrix Potter’s husband once worked is now a gallery, which we can visit, with illustrations from her delightful tales. Lunch will be taken in Hawkshead.

Mid-afternoon we visit Hill Top Farm, where Beatrix Potter lived from 1905. This seventeenth century farmhouse contains her personal furniture and china (many of these items were replicated by her in her book illustrations) and original sketches and manuscripts.

We then visit Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s final home near Ambleside. We might see daffodils at this time of year, and we can walk where he trod with Coleridge, see his study and walk in the delightful gardens which he landscaped and designed himself. The current owners will give us a private tour of the house and an evening reception of wine and Grasmere gingerbread. We then return to our hotel for dinner. (Overnight Keswick) BD

Stratford-upon-Avon - 2 nights

Day 17: Sunday 7 June, Keswick – Knutsford – Kenilworth – Stratford
  • Elizabeth Gaskell: A Cranford Walk around Knutsford
  • The Brook Street Unitarian Chapel (Gaskell’s Church), Knutsford
  • Kenilworth Castle

We head a long way south today to reach Stratford-upon-Avon by evening. Our first visit is to the town of Knutsford, Cheshire home of the novelist and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell. Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson was born in Chelsea in 1810, but after her mother’s early death she was brought up by her aunt Mrs Lumb in Knutsford. As Mrs Gaskell, she portrayed her ‘dear adopted, native town’ in Cranford. We will take a ‘Cranford Walk’ around the town and visit the delightful and unusual Brook Street Chapel where Gaskell, a Unitarian, worshipped regularly. The Chapel Committee will arrange a light lunch for our group.

Further south we will stop at Kenilworth, setting of a Sir Walter Scott novel and home of John of Gaunt, where we will explore the magnificent red sandstone castle ruin before travelling on to the most famous literary shrine in England, Stratford-upon-Avon, home of William Shakespeare. (Overnight Stratford-upon-Avon) BL

Day 18: Monday 8 June, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Walking Tour of Stratford
  • Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church
  • The Shakespeare Properties (Birthplace, Harvard House and Hall’s Croft)
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery
  • Evening Performance of Othello at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre

Stratford’s fame began almost the day Shakespeare died. Since then, legions of literary pilgrims have descended upon the Warwickshire market town where he grew up and retired to.

We spend the morning completing a guided walk of the town, taking in the Shakespeare memorial statue and the poet’s grave with its memorable curse. There is then free time to explore the Shakespeare properties at leisure – his Birthplace, Harvard House and New Place, as well as the Shakespeare bookshops.

In the late afternoon we travel a mile by coach to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery. The cottage belonged to the prosperous Hathaway family and was the pre-marital home of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne. Although referred to as a cottage, it is actually a substantial, twelve-roomed, Elizabethan farmhouse. Externally the building with its low thatched roof, timbered walls and lattice windows has changed very little since Shakespeare went courting there.

This evening, we plan to attend a performance of Shakespeare’s Othello by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Courtyard Theatre. (Overnight Stratford-upon-Avon) B

London - 2 nights

Day 19: Tuesday 9 June, Stratford – Oxford – London
  • Bodleian Library
  • Walking tour of Literary Oxford

We leave Stratford after breakfast and drive to London via Oxford. Over the centuries many famous writers, poets, novelists, critics and children’s authors have studied or lived in Oxford.

In the morning we visit the Bodleian Library, the main research library of the University of Oxford. It’s one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library with over 11 million items.

After lunch we explore this rich heritage with a guided walking tour of this lovely medieval university city.

In the mid-afternoon we will depart Oxford and arrive in London. The evening will be at leisure. (Overnight London) B

Day 20: Wednesday 10 June, London
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
  • Dr Johnson’s House
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub (at own expense)
  • Evening Meal: Sherlock Holmes Pub

The last day of our tour will be spent exploring just a few of the literary places of London. In the morning we will tour the new Globe Theatre, replica of the building which saw the opening nights of so many of Shakespeare’s plays. The theatre has an exhibition centre on the Elizabethan theatrical world and the plays performed at the Globe.

“Nothing”, Dr Johnson once said, “has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn”. ‘Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’, his favourite tavern is a good place to have lunch before we visit Dr Johnson’s home not far away. “A man who is tired of London is tired of life”, he famously stated. His home in Gough Square was where his mammoth dictionary was produced. We will explore the house, the only one of his London homes to survive.

Our last dinner together will be at the ‘Sherlock Holmes Pub’, one of London’s most famous pubs. The pub has a replica of Sherlock Holmes’s study at 221B Baker Street, complete with deerstalker hat, pipe and violin. (Overnight London) BD

Day 21: Thursday 11 June, Depart London
  • Departure transfer for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

The tour ends today in London. Participants on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to Heathrow Airport to take their flight home to Australia. Alternatively you may wish to extend your stay in London. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B

Accommodation

20 days in England

ASA has selected 3 to 5-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with private facilities. Double rooms (for single use) may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the applicable supplement. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure.

  • Canterbury (4 nights): 4-star Canterbury Cathedral Lodge – the only accommodation located in the private and peaceful grounds of Canterbury Cathedral. www.canterburycathedrallodge.org
  • Winchester (3 nights): 4-star Winchester Royal – having recently undertaken a major refurbishment, this charming 81-bedroom hotel is located in the heart of historic Winchester. Originally built as a private house it later became a Bishop’s Residence and convent before being converted to a hotel 150 years ago. www.thewinchesterroyalhotel.co.uk
  • Bath (4 nights): 4-star Francis Hotel -recently restored to its former glory following a major refurbishment. Located in the heart of the historic city, it occupies seven of the original 18th century townhouses that make up the south side of the centrally located Queen square. francishotel.com
  • York (3 nights): 4-star Park Inn by Radisson York Hotel – a modern hotel located in the city centre overlooking the River Ouse. www.york.parkinn.co.uk
  • Keswick (2 nights): 3-star The Skiddaw Hotel – an historic hotel located in the city centre with views of the surrounding countryside. www.lakedistricthotels.net
  • Stratford-upon-Avon (2 nights): 4-star Legacy Falcon Hotel – originally a 16th century inn, the Falcon is situated in the heart of historic Stratford a short stroll from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. www.sjhotels.co.uk/hotels/falcon/
  • London (2 nights): 5-star St Martins Lane – a stylish modern hotel recently renovated with interior design by Philippe Starke, located near London’s Trafalgar Square, West End theatres and Covent Garden. www.stmartinslane.com

Note: Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

How to book

Make A Reservation

ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION FORM

Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person (payable to Australians Studying Abroad).

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Double (as single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double room (for single use) throughout the tour. The number of double rooms available for single use is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, six to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day tour involves:

  • A daily schedule generally involving an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (5.30-6.00pm)
  • 2-3 site visits most days involving up to 1-2 hours of walking at each (sometimes on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, and steep slopes,) and/or standing, interspersed with coach travel
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • 3 to 5-star hotels with six hotel changes
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

National Trust Membership

It is a requirement that all travellers on this program have a current membership to the National Trust for the period of the tour. You will need to send a photocopy of your National Trust membership card to ASA prior to the start of the tour, and to carry your card with you throughout the tour program. Different types of National Trust membership are available (family, singles, etc) and the fees vary from state to state. For assistance in joining the National Trust and completing these formalities, please contact ASA.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers see: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $10480.00 Land Content Only

AUD $1860.00   Double (as single) room supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3 to 5-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, 1 lunch & 6 evening meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal.
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights on arrrival and departure
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Evening Performance in Stratford-upon-Avon (Day 18)
  • Tour Handbook
  • Entrance fees (excluding NT membership)
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia – London return
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • National Trust Membership
  • Travel insurance.
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to canel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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