The following itinerary lists a range of site visits 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. Furthermore, a number of the sites have not yet confirmed their opening hours for 2020. Therefore, the daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight/ferry schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunch and evening meals as indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Chichester - 5 nights
Day 1: Friday 18 September, Heathrow – Guildford – Midhurst – Chichester
- Literary walking tour of Guildford
- Time at leisure in Midhurst
- Literary walking tour of Chichester (incl. Chichester Cathedral)
After an early morning arrival in London, we travel to the Saxon town of Guildford. Lewis Carroll, whose real name was the Rev Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was a frequent visitor to Guildford. He installed his sisters in a house called The Chestnuts on Castle Hill in September 1868 and he always spent Christmas with them. The exterior of which we will pass on the walking tour. Occasionally Carroll preached at St Mary’s church. He died at The Chestnuts, in 1898, and is buried in The Mount Cemetery there.
We continue south to the historic market town of Midhurst for some time at leisure for lunch. Midhurst has several literary connections including H.G. Wells, Anya Seton, Hillaire Belloc and John Wyndham. H.G. Wells, the essayist and novelist, was a pupil and then a pupil teacher at Midhurst Grammar School in 1882 and 1883. Midhurst features as “Wimblehurst” in several of Well’s novels, such as Tono-Bungay. Anya Seton stayed at the Spread Eagle Hotel researching her novel Green Darkness, set in Tudor England, and in which Cowdray House, St. Ann’s Hill and the Spread Eagle feature prominently.
After time at leisure for lunch we continue our drive south to the delightful cathedral city of Chichester. It was while staying here in 1819 that John Keats wrote his poem St. Agnes’ Eve, inspired by the town’s medieval buildings, and also The Eve of St. Mark which he hoped conveyed “the sensation of walking about an old country town in a coolish evening”. William Blake had a less happy time in Chichester – he was tried in its Guildhall for treason. A more modern poet, Philip Larkin, impressed by the cathedral’s ancient monuments, wrote his poem An Arundel Tomb while visiting here.
We shall take a literary walking tour of Chichester, before checking into our hotel (check-in time is 3.00pm). (Overnight Chichester) BD
Day 2: Saturday 19 September, Chichester – Brighton – Rodmell – Lewes – Chichester
- The Royal Pavilion, Brighton
- Literary walking tour of Brighton
- Monk’s House, Rodmell
Today we visit a city of sea breezes, murder and elopements. Graham Greene loved Brighton, but opens his novel Brighton Rock with the line: “Hale knew, before he had been three hours in Brighton, that they meant to murder him.” Jane Austen used it as the setting for Lydia Bennet’s elopement with Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. We will enjoy a visit to the famous Royal Pavilion, an amazing building which puts in an appearance in lots of novels. It began as a farmhouse and was turned into an ornate fantasy palace by the Prince Regent (later King George IV).
Brighton has had many famous literary visitors – Dr Johnson, Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thackeray (who set part of Vanity Fair there) and Dickens (who used it in Dombey and Son) are just a few of them. We will enjoy a literary walk with guide Gill Balfour of Quite Literally Tours to hear what these writers thought of Brighton and to learn about Brighton past and present.
Not far away is Monk’s House, the modest home of Virginia Woolf. This was where she and her husband Leonard would “sit, eat, play the gramophone, prop our feet up on the side of the fire, and read endless books”. They entertained many literary visitors there, including T.S. Eliot, Vita Sackville-West and E.M. Forster. After her suicide, Virginia Woolf’s ashes were buried under two tall elm trees in the garden. (Overnight Chichester) B
Day 3: Sunday 20 September, Chichester – Portsmouth – Chichester
- Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
- Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, Portsmouth
- The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at the City Museum, Portsmouth
- Walking tour of Old Portsmouth & the Royal Garrison Church
It was ships just like the Victory that Patrick O’Brian describes his characters taking into naval battles in his Aubrey/Maturin series of novels. We will visit the Royal Dockyards of Portsmouth and enjoy a guided tour of this famous ship.
In the afternoon we will explore Old Portsmouth, birthplace of Charles Dickens and home to Fanny Price, heroine of Mansfield Park. It is also where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first began to practise as a doctor. So few patients came to see him that he began writing stories about a man called Sherlock Holmes to fill in the time. We shall first visit the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, a modest house where the author was born, now furnished in a style reflecting the period in which the author was born. We then move on to the City Museum, home to the magnificent Arthur Conan Doyle collection donated to the city by Richard Lancelyn Green. This collection brings together an unparalleled variety of books, documents and objects connected to Holmes and the life of his creator.
We then stroll along the Old Ramparts, just as Fanny Price and her family did, and past the Royal Garrison Church, partly roofless since World War II. The English Heritage listed stained glass windows depict various scenes from history. (Overnight Chichester) B
Day 4: Monday 21 September, Chichester – Isle of Wight – Chichester
- Osborne House, East Cowes – Isle of Wight
- Farringford House, Freshwater Bay – Isle of Wight
- Tennyson Walk, Isle of Wight
We make an early start this morning to catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight, home to Alfred, Lord Tennyson for nearly forty years. The other famous resident on the island during Tennyson’s time was Queen Victoria. Osborne House, her home, became a convalescent home during World War I and A.A. Milne and Robert Graves stayed there. We can see part of the interior of Osborne and enjoy the Queen’s beautiful gardens.
We next drive to Farringford, Tennyson’s house, where we will have a guided tour of the interior including the library and a wander around the grounds. Tennyson wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade here and entertained writers including Edward Lear, Swinburne, Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes.
After Farringford, we will take a short walk along Green Lane to see Tennyson’s bridge, the start of his path up the down, together with the thatched church in Freshwater. There will not be time to do the Tennyson Trail as it involves a stiff climb and more walking than we can fit in to the day, but we will walk far enough to get a sense of the landscape Tennyson loved so much and which he celebrated in his work:
“Come to the Isle of Wight;
Where far from noise and smoke of town,
I watch the twilight falling brown
All round a careless order’d garden
Close to the ridge of a noble down.”
We catch the ferry back to the mainland in the evening. (Overnight Chichester) BL
Day 5: Tuesday 22 September, Chichester – Fishbourne – Chichester
- Fishbourne Roman Palace
- Afternoon at leisure in Chichester
This morning we travel to Fishbourne, one of the major Roman relics in Britain. It was probably the palace of Cogidubnus who enjoyed Roman baths and heating systems to help him cope with the British climate. Marcus Didius Falco, the private informer hero of Lindsay Davis’s historical detective novels, visits this part of the country when he is sent to “that foul bog Britain”. We will look around the ruins and visit the adjoining museum to learn about the history of this fascinating site. (Overnight Chichester) B
St Ives - 3 nights
Day 6: Wednesday 23 September, Chichester – Exeter – Bodmin Moor – St Ives
- The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, Exeter
- Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor
This is a day of travel with “some miles to go before we sleep”, but we have some enjoyable stopping places en-route. The first will be at Exeter, cathedral and university city and county capital of Devon. The cathedral, which we will explore, appears in a delightful scene in Mary Wesley’s Harnessing Peacocks and has a memorial to R.D. Blackmore of Lorna Doone fame. The town itself appears in John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It was here, at the Turk’s Head Tavern, that Dickens found the original Fat Boy for The Pickwick Papers.
We move on into Daphne Du Maurier country, so our next stop will be at the smugglers’ hideout of Jamaica Inn on the grim uplands of Bodmin Moor. The Inn now celebrates Du Maurier’s book with a museum and a blood-thirsty theme to its bar and restaurant where there will be an opportunity to have refreshments.
St Ives, our next base, is in a pretty little Cornish bay. Its focal point is a lighthouse on Godrevy’s Island. This is the model of the one in To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf might have placed the action of her novel in Scotland, but the lighthouse and the scenery were created from her childhood memories of holidays in St Ives. St Ives, for her, meant rock climbing and cricket (Virginia was a demon bowler!). St Ives and the lighthouse also find their way into Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. She was born nearby and set many of her novels in Cornwall. (Overnight in St Ives) BD
Day 7: Thursday 24 September, St Ives – St Agnes – Newquay – Porthcurno – St Ives
- St Agnes village
- Trerice House, Newquay
- The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno (performance to be confirmed in 2020)
This morning begins with a visit to St Agnes in the heart of Cornwall’s tin mining industry. The popular Poldark series was both set and filmed in this part of England. St Agnes inspired St Ann’s, the local market town in the novels. This rugged part of Cornwall is where Ross and Demelza, along with smugglers and tin miners, fill the twelve volumes written by Winston Graham. Trerice House, an Elizabethan gem near Newquay, is the home Winston Graham had in mind for Trenwith, where Ross’s sweetheart Elizabeth lives unhappily with her husband Francis. We will visit this charming house.
Mid-afternoon, we depart St Ives for the Minack Theatre at Porthcurno. En-route we visit the delightful hamlet of stone cottages that make up the fishing harbour of Penberth Cove. It is one of the filming locations of the latest adaptation of Poldark.
Our evening will be spent enjoying an evening performance at the spectacular open-air Minack Theatre. (Overnight St Ives) BD
Day 8: Friday 25 September, St Ives – Botallack – St Ives
- Levant and Botallack Tin Mines
- Afternoon at leisure in St Ives with an option of visiting the Tate St Ives
We begin this morning with a visit to the Levant and Botallack Tin Mines along the exposed cliffs of the Cornish ‘Tin Coast’, which feature in the Poldark television series. We will have a tour of the Levant Mine and the restored 1840s beam engine, then transfer to Botallack Mine to see the famed Crowns engine houses clinging to the foot of the cliffs. Those wanting to experience the wild Poldark landscape can walk along the coastal path, while the others can stay at the Botallack Count House.
The afternoon will be spent back in St Ives where you can explore at your own pace. In this holiday resort town and haunt of artists you may wish to admire the lighthouse across the bay which so inspired Virginia Woolf that she pictured Mrs Ramsay “watching it with fascination, hypnotised, as if it were stroking with its silver fingers some sealed vessel in her brain whose bursting would flood her with delight”.
An optional visit can be made to the Tate St Ives which, after extensive renovations in 2015, now contains a permanent exhibition dedicated to those iconic 20th-century artists who lived and worked in the town. Artists represented include works by Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and Barbara Hepworth to Piet Mondrian, Naum Gabo and Paule Vézelay. (Overnight in St Ives) BD
Torquay - 2 nights
Day 9: Saturday 26 September, St Ives – Fowey – Polperro – Torquay
- Rebecca Walk, Fowey
- Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling & Fishing
There are many famous writers associated with Cornwall – Virginia Woolf, Winston Graham, Katherine Mansfield, John Betjeman, Mary Wesley, Rosamunde Pilcher, Tennyson, Kenneth Grahame and Sir Arthur Quiller Couch. This morning we focus on Daphne du Maurier, author of the haunting Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek and Jamaica Inn.
Du Maurier could see Fowey Haven from each of her three homes in the district. Fowey inspired most of her novels, it was where she met her husband and sailed off for her honeymoon and nearby is her beloved Menabilly (not open to the public) which was the original for Manderley. In Fowey we join a Rebecca Walk, which takes us to places associated with the novel. Rebecca is said to sail the coastline in a ghostly boat! Fowey was also deeply loved by Kenneth Grahame who could indulge his passion there for “messing about in boats”.
Smuggling has been a big part of Cornish history and literature. The quaint village of Polperro, everything a Cornish fishing village ought to be, has a smuggling museum which we will visit before departing for Torquay, our home for the next two nights. (Overnight in Torquay) BD
Day 10: Sunday 27 September, Torquay – Brixham – Torquay
- Agatha Christie Mile, Torquay
- Torquay Museum
- Greenway House & Gardens, Galpton, nr. Brixham
In 1916 a young woman living in Torquay wrote her first novel. It was to be 4 years before her book was published as publishers kept turning it down, but from then on she would publish a book a year and be referred to as the ‘Queen of Crime’. We will visit Agatha Christie’s Torquay, walk the Agatha Christie Mile, visit the Agatha Christie exhibition in the Torquay Museum and see her bust in the city gardens. Torquay has associations with Elizabeth Barrett Browning (whose doctor cruelly made her get up at 10am instead of at noon while she was there!) and also with Tennyson who called it “the loveliest sea village in England”.
This afternoon we leave Torquay by coach to visit Greenway House, Agatha’s own beloved home which she shared with her archaeologist husband, Max Mallowan. (Overnight in Torquay) B
Moreton-in-Marsh - 3 nights
Day 11: Monday 28 September, Torquay – Slad – Cheltenham – Moreton-in-Marsh
- Lunch at the Woolpack Pub, Slad
- Literary walking tour of the scenic Slad Valley, incl. the Holy Trinity Church and grave of Laurie Lee
This morning we depart Torquay for the Slad Valley whose pastoral beauty has been much celebrated ever since Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee’s autobiographical evocation of rural life there, became a bestseller in the 1960s.
Lee moved to Slad with his mother and a tumble of six brothers and sisters in the latter years of World War I, when he was a small boy. They all squeezed into Bank Cottages (now known as Rosebank Cottage) off Steanbridge Lane and lived cheerfully and frugally on money sent by Lee’s father, who had in all other respects deserted them. Lee left school at 15, home at 19.
Lee was 45 when Cider with Rosie was published and its enormous success enabled him and his wife, Kathy, to buy a house back in Slad. With their daughter Jessy, they divided their time between London and the Slad Valley. While Lee continued to write, he also bought land in the valley to help protect the area and campaigned vociferously against development. His favourite haunt was Slad’s down-to-earth the Woolpack Inn. Today, his grave in the village churchyard overlooks the Woolpack and, as Slad people say, he lies between pulpit and pub.
We shall have lunch at the Woolpack Pub, a 16th-century traditional country inn, where a local guide will give us a talk about Laurie Lee. This will be followed by a scenic walk along a path dotted with posts featuring different Laurie Lee poems. On the walk, we shall also visit the Holy Trinity Church whose churchyard contains the grave of Laurie Lee. (Overnight Moreton-in-Marsh) BL
Day 12: Tuesday 29 September, Moreton-in-Marsh – Great Tew – Great Rollright – Stow-on-the-Wold – Chipping Campden – Moreton-in-Marsh – Cheltenham – Moreton-in-Marsh
- Great Tew Church and village
- Rollright Stones, Great Rollright
- Lunch at leisure in Stow-on-the-Wold
- Burnt Norton, Chipping Campden
- Evening reception at Stanway House, Cheltenham
The morning begins with a visit to the picturesque village of Great Tew with its charming thatched cottages and gabled roofs. Before having lunch in the quaintly named Cotswold’s town of Stow-on-the-Wold, we stop at Great Rollright to view the mystical Rollright Stones comprising a circle of seventy-seven unhewn stones dating back to the late Stone Age which have inspired a number of colourful local legends.
The afternoon is spent in the garden of Burnt Norton near Chipping Campden. The intriguing story of how this 17th century manor house got its name inspired Lady Harrowby, our host, to write her novel of the same name. In 1934, T.S. Eliot was also inspired by the derelict gardens of the then unoccupied house whilst rambling, to fashion the first of his Four Quartets, also named Burnt Norton. His poem will be read to us by the Pools and we will see the rose garden that inspired T.S. Eliot to write the lines “Other echoes inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?”.
J.M. Barrie, author of the much loved story Peter Pan, took inspiration from his time in the picturesque village of Stanway in the north Cotswolds. He spent the Summers between 1923 and 1932 staying in the impressive Stanway House, which he rented from the Earl of Wemyss, whose daughter Lady Cynthia Asquith was a good friend of Barrie’s. Such was Barrie’s love of the game of cricket, he paid for a cricket pavilion at Stanway House and founded an amateur cricket team, the Allahakbarries, for his friends (who included the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Jerome K. Jerome, G. K. Chesterton, A. A. Milne, and P. G. Wodehouse!). We will be treated to an evening reception at Stanway House which will include a literary tour of Stanway House, canapés and champagne, and have the fountain turned on especially for us. (Overnight in Moreton-in-Marsh) BLD
Day 13: Wednesday 30 September, Moreton-in-Marsh – Kelmscott – Swinbrook – Asthall – Moreton-in-Marsh
- William Morris’ grave at St George’s churchyard, Kelmscott
- Kelmscott Manor
- Mitford graves at St Mary’s churchyard, Swinbrook
- Asthall Manor and St Nicholas Church (To be confirmed 2020)
This morning, we drive to Kelmscott Manor, the sixteenth century home of poet and designer William Morris, which was “a heaven on earth” for him. Today it houses a collection of his work as a writer, thinker, artist and craftsman. We will also call in at Kelmscott Church to see his “rudely simple” grave.
In the afternoon, we visit Swinbrook and the little churchyard where Nancy, Diana and Unity Mitford are buried. Not far away is Asthall Manor, home to the Mitford Girls, which Nancy turned into Alconleigh in her novel Love in a Cold Climate. Asthall is in private hands, but we can go inside to see the famous “Hons Cupboard” where the young Mitfords all tried to find out about sex. The tiny church next door is where “Uncle Matthew” timed the poor parson giving the sermon. (Overnight in Moreton-in-Marsh) BD
Richmond - 2 nights
Day 14: Thursday 1 October, Moreton-in-Marsh – Lichfield – Richmond
- Lichfield Cathedral
- Dr Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield
This is another day of travel, with pleasant stops en route. Dr Samuel Johnson thought that the inhabitants of his birthplace Lichfield were the “most sober, decent people in England”. Daniel Defoe called it “a place of good conversation and good company, above all the towns in this county or the next”. Johnson’s birthplace is a handsome eighteenth century house, near to the cathedral which has memorials to him and to his pupil, the great actor David Garrick. The Cathedral Close in Lichfield is also the setting for Lady Bountiful’s house in Farquhar’s play The Beaux Stratagem. We will visit the birthplace, and there will be time to also see Lichfield Cathedral, on our way north to Richmond in the heart of James Herriot country.
Our base for the next two nights will be Richmond, one of Yorkshire’s most attractive towns. Curfew is rung each night from its medieval church. C.L. Dodgson (“Lewis Carroll”) attended school here before going to Rugby. (Overnight in Richmond) B
Day 15: Friday 2 October, Richmond – Coxwold – Castle Howard – Richmond
- Shandy Hall and St Michael’s Church, Coxwold
- Castle Howard
Shandy Hall is not a stately home (its name was a joke), but it was the much loved residence of early novelist Laurence Sterne. In the comfortable study he wrote of the bawdy, satirical ramblings of Tristram Shandy, Uncle Toby and Dr Slop and the resulting novel was a sensation in London in the 1760s. The home was a “delicious retreat” to Sterne, especially once his wife had moved out and he could plan for his mistress to move in. After looking round the house we will also explore the village, Coxwold, including Sterne’s local church and lunch will be served at the Coxwold Tearooms.
One of the grandest houses in England is Castle Howard, designed in 1699 by Vanbrugh, himself a playwright as well as an architect. Thanks to television, Castle Howard is now linked to a more modern writer, Evelyn Waugh. His Brideshead Revisited was filmed there twice, capturing quite gloriously the baroque splendour of the house and estate. (Overnight in Richmond) BLD
Lincoln - 3 nights
Day 16: Saturday 3 October, Richmond – Whitby – Scarborough – Lincoln
- Literary walking tour of Whitby incl. Whitby Abbey with Professor O’Gorman
- Anne Brontë’s grave at St Mary’s churchyard, Scarborough
- The Sitwell library at Woodend, Scarborough
This morning we visit the fishing port of Whitby which is rich in literary associations and, as the home of Captain Cook, is a special place for Australians to visit. It was in the Whitby shipyard that the Endeavour was built. We will spend the morning in Whitby, visiting the thirteenth century Abbey, now in ruins but once the home to Caedmon, the first English Christian poet, along with visiting the church of St Mary the Virgin. Joining us will be Professor Francis O’Gorman, Saintsbury Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. After the literary walking tour we will have lunch at the Magpie Café, famous for their fish and chips.
Not far away is Scarborough, a sea-side town and spa, with splendid cliff scenery, sandy bays and a castle. Anne Brontë spent her last days here and is buried in St Mary’s graveyard. We will make a short stop to visit her grave on the way to Woodend, the Sitwell holiday house. We will be met by Andrew Clay, the Director of Woodend Creative, who will give us a talk about the Sitwells in the library. We will drive past the Stephen Joseph Theatre on our way south to the cathedral city on a hill, Lincoln, where we spend the next three nights. (Overnight in Lincoln) B
Day 17: Sunday 4 October, Lincoln – Tennyson Country – Lincoln
- Time at leisure in Lincoln, incl. Lincoln Cathedral
- Half-day guided tour of Tennyson Country
The beautiful city of Lincoln, which will be our base for the next two nights, is in the heart of Tennyson country. The morning will be free to discover the historic city and its cathedral. Tennyson’s statue stands outside the cathedral. Inside is the tomb of Katherine Swynford, heroine of Anya Seton’s novel Katherine and mistress of John of Gaunt. The Jew’s House dates from c.1170 and is one of the oldest houses in Britain still in use.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born at Somersby Rectory in Lincolnshire and was so certain of his destiny as a poet that he began composing poems at the age of eight. Today we will follow his footsteps through his beloved Lincolnshire, with our special Tennyson guide Jean Howard. Jean will lead us to Tealby Church to view his family memorials and to see the site of Bayons manor, home of his grandfather, to Louth where the young Tennyson was miserable at school, and to Somersby itself. His family home is not open to the public, but the stream which runs through the village and which inspired his poem The Brook (“For men may come and men may go, But I go on for ever”) and the church where his father was rector are still there.
We return to Lincoln via Horncastle, home village of Emily Sellwood, Tennyson’s adoring wife. There we see the Sellwood plaque and listen to a recitation from The Bridesmaid. (Overnight in Lincoln) BL
Day 18: Monday 5 October, Lincoln
- Half-day guided tour of Tennyson Country
- Tennyson Research Centre, Lincoln (To be confirmed in 2020)
Half-day guided tour of Tennyson Country continued with Jean Howard. In the afternoon we shall visit the Lincoln Central Library and Tennyson Research Centre to see the Poet Laureate’s books, letters and manuscripts. (Overnight in Lincoln) B
Cambridge - 2 nights
Day 19: Tuesday 6 October, Lincoln – Stamford – Cambridge
- Walking tour of Stamford
- Pepys Library, Cambridge
On our drive south today we stop off at the market town of Stamford. The BBC used Stamford, one of the finest medieval towns in England, as the town of Middlemarch in their version of George Eliot’s novel of the same name. More recently it was used as the town of Meryton in the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice.
We then drive on to Cambridge, one of the great university towns of England. A Roman town was established here by AD70 and from the 13th C students began coming to attend the university. Milton, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Dryden, A.A. Milne, C.P. Snow, Thackeray, Thomas Gray, C.S. Lewis, Darwin and E.M. Forster were just a few of the writers who studied here.
Another badly behaved student at Cambridge was the great diarist Samuel Pepys. He was reproved in the college records for being “scandalously overseene in drink”. He bequeathed his library of 3000 books, the bookcases he had had especially made to house them, his engravings and his diary to his old college Magdalene, and this afternoon, we shall enjoy a special private tour of the Pepys Library. (Overnight in Cambridge) B
Day 20: Wednesday 7 October, Cambridge – Grantchester – Cambridge
- Walking tour of Cambridge and the colleges
- Trinity College and the Wren Library, Cambridge
- Walking tour in Grantchester
- The Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester
- Punting down the river Cam
This morning, we shall enjoy a walking tour of the various colleges of this lovely university town. We shall also visit the library at nearby Trinity College which was started by Sir Christopher Wren. In this superb building is a statue of Byron (who broke every rule in the college books when he was a student there) and manuscripts by Milton, Tennyson and Thackeray.
After lunch, we travel just out of Cambridge to the quaint rural village of Grantchester. Byron came here often as a student, and the way to the pool he swam in makes for a pleasant walk. However, the afternoon will be devoted mainly to Rupert Brooke, handsome and poetic, whose The Soldier with its lines “If I should die, think only this of me…” became the great patriotic poem of World War I. We will take a Rupert Brooke walk around the village and its environs with guide Lorna Beckett, specialist on Rupert Brooke who is currently editing the love letters written by Brooke to Phyllis Gardner in their secret love affair. Brooke wrote a famous poem about Grantchester which he often visited:
“Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?”
he asks in the poem. We will explore Grantchester (the Old Vicarage, where Brooke stayed, is now home to another writer Jeffrey Archer, and Lorna will try to arrange for us to be shown around the gardens) and indulge in tea and honey at the Orchard Tea Garden.
We will then follow a great student tradition and travel back to Cambridge by punt, giving us time to enjoy the beauties of the River Cam. (Overnight in Cambridge) B
Day 21: Thursday 8 October: Cambridge – Chalfont St Giles – Stoke Poges – Heathrow
- Milton’s Cottage, Chalfont St Giles
- Lunch at The Orangery, Stoke Park
- St. Giles Church and churchyard, Stoke Poges
We leave Cambridge this morning for the picturesque village of Chalfont St Giles, where we visit the home of English poet John Milton. The Cottage is now a museum and Grade I listed building, and the surrounding garden is filled with the plants and flowers that feature in Milton’s poetry. The museum houses the finest open collection of first editions of Milton’s work. We then drive to Stoke Park where we shall enjoy lunch in The Orangery.
Stoke Poges is our last literary shrine on the tour. Thomas Gray’s mother lived in this village and the poet came often to visit her. In the churchyard, under the yew trees, he wrote his famous Elegy in a Country Churchyard. When Gray died he was buried with his mother and there is now a large monument to him in the churchyard. The National Trust has purchased the surrounding land so the church will always have the appearance of a ‘country churchyard’.
All good things must come to an end! Our tour ends with a coach trip to London Heathrow Airport where we must all say goodbye. BL