Exploring More Literary Landscapes of England 2025

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9 May – 29 May 2025

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Exploring More Literary Landscapes of England 2025
Tour Highlights

  • Lectures and site visits in England by Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia.
  • Exploration of places associated with Virginia Woolf – her beloved home at Rodmell, and the lighthouse she saw as a child which inspired her most famous novel.
  • A journey through Poldark country in Cornwall, learning about the books and the two fabulous film adaptations.
  • Fabulous Tennyson explorations on the Isle of Wight.
  • A day of murder and detection following in the footsteps of ‘Queen of Crime’, Agatha Christie.
  • A memorable visit to quaint Shandy Hall with discussion of one of the world’s most influential and oddest novels, Tristram Shandy.
  • A viewing of J.M. Barrie’s literary cricket pavilion at stunning Stanway House.
  • Literary explorations of the glorious Cotswolds in the footsteps of the Mitfords, Laurie Lee, and T.S. Eliot (with a private visit to Burnt Norton).
  • Stay in sea side resort boutique hotels in Portsmouth and St Ives.

Overnight Portsmouth (5 nights) • St Ives (3 nights) • Torquay (2 nights) • Moreton-in-Marsh (3 nights) • Helmsley (2 nights) • Lincoln (3 nights) • Cambridge (2 nights)

About the Tour

Reading books is one of life’s greatest joys. Reading involves entering and spending time in the worlds of authors’ imaginations. Rapidly, favourite authors start to feel like old friends as we spend hours in their company. To visit the homes and landscapes of these authors can be a wonderful extension of the joys of reading their works. There is the excitement of recognising places we have long known in our imaginations, the thrill of gaining new perceptions into literary works and the pleasure of an intimate connection with a writer as you visit a much-loved home or walk in a favourite spot.

Exploring More Literary Landscapes of England is a tour designed to give you just such opportunities. We will follow in the footsteps of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Daphne du Maurier, Virginia Woolf, Laurence Sterne, Rupert Brooke, Nancy Mitford, Agatha Christie and many other classic and popular writers. We will see the buildings they lived in, the fields and countryside that inspired them, the museums they have left behind them, and the manuscripts they laboured over. From stately homes to cottages, from graveyards to cathedrals, from tiny villages to bustling towns, from lush countryside to barren uplands, from the dales to the seaside, we will follow a variety of poets, novelists and playwrights and learn about their lives and writings.

This will be a cultural journey as well as a literary one, with visits to smuggling museums and churches, to a Roman palace and to a fascinating island. There will be historic properties and sites – the town of Captain Cook’s apprenticeship, Queen Victoria’s beloved Osborne House, one of England’s greatest universities – and there will be beautiful rural scenery to walk through and enjoy.

Film is not forgotten. We will visit the locations used in the filming of several great BBC dramas and movies, such as the unforgettable Castle Howard used for Brideshead Revisited. Also included is Stamford which has been both Middlemarch, and Meryton in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.

We will, throughout the tour, be joined by a variety of guides, specialists on the colleges of Cambridge, on licentious Brighton, on Laurence Sterne’s beloved Shandy Hall and on Rupert Brooke’s peaceful Grantchester. Susannah will brief us on all the visits to writers’ homes and landscapes and will do dramatic readings of poems, letters and extracts from novels, suitable to each location. Her ‘Tour Book’ will be a written accompaniment to the journey, as well as a memento that you can enjoy after returning home.

Susannah’s first ‘Literary Landscapes of England’ tour took ASA travellers to the homes of the great ‘classic’ writers of English literature – Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dickens, the Brontës and others. This second tour frequently touches on those great writers – we find Jane Austen and Dickens in Portsmouth, Elizabeth Gaskell in Whitby, Lord Byron in Cambridge – but it also includes a variety of more modern and popular writers – Agatha Christie, A.S. Byatt whose marvellous novel Possession won the Booker Prize, Winston Graham whose Poldark series created a dramatic rise in Cornish tourism, Graham Greene, and those infamous Mitford Girls. Also included are twentieth century poets such as Rupert Brooke and modern novelists Patrick O’Brian and Mary Wesley. The tour aims to be varied, informative and fun.

You will travel in the company of fellow Australians who share your fascination with good books, your delight in the power of words. Encounter deeply loved writers and make acquaintance with new ones. Treat yourself and explore more English literary landscapes in 2025.



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 2025. 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 dinners as indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Portsmouth - 5 nights

Day 1: Friday 9 May, Heathrow – Rodmell – Portsmouth
  • Monk’s House, Rodmell

Meeting Point: Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Airport, early morning (time to be confirmed)

After an early morning arrival in London, we travel to Rodmell and visit 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. After lunch we continue to Portsmouth where we will be based for 5 nights. (Overnight Portsmouth) LD

Day 2: Saturday 10 May, Portsmouth – Brighton – Portsmouth
  • The Royal Pavilion, Brighton
  • Literary walking tour of Brighton

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.

Upon arrival in Brighton, we will then visit 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. (Overnight Portsmouth) B

Day 3: Sunday 11 May, Portsmouth
  • 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 (exterior)

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 appropriate to the time of his birth. 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. Its English Heritage listed stained glass windows depict various scenes from history. (Overnight Portsmouth) B

Day 4: Monday 12 May, Portsmouth – Fishbourne – Chichester – Portsmouth
  • Fishbourne Roman Palace
  • Cathederal city of 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.

In the afternoon we drive to the delightful cathedral city of Chichester. It was while staying here in 1819 that John Keats wrote his poem The Eve of St. Agnes, 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 returning to Portsmouth. (Overnight Portsmouth) B 

Day 5: Monday 13 May, Portsmouth – Isle of Wight – Portsmouth
  • 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 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 Portsmouth) BL

St Ives - 3 nights

Day 6: Wednesday 14 May, Portsmouth – 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. 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”. 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 St Ives) BD

Day 7: Thursday 15 May, St Ives – Botallack Mine – Penzance – Zennor – St Ives
  • Botallack and Levant Tin Mines & Botallack Count House
  • Penzance
  • Norman Church of St Senara & Tinners Arms, Zennor

Today we visit the Botallack and Wheal Owles tin mines along the exposed cliffs of the Cornish ‘Tin Coast’, which feature in the Poldark television series as ‘Wheal Grace’ and ‘Wheal Leisure’, respectively. Those wanting to experience the wild Poldark landscape can walk along the coastal track to view, from the best photographic vantage point, the famed Crowns engine houses of the Botallack Mine clinging to the foot of the cliffs as well as the Wheal Owles Mine, while others can stay at the Botallack Count House. We then transfer to the Levant Mine with its restored 1840s beam engine for a tour.

Lunch today will be in the delightful port town of Penzance. You can find time to walk along Chapel Street, to see Branwell House, home of the mother and aunt of the famous Bronte sisters, and the Admiral Benbow Inn (allegedly the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow Inn of Treasure Island).

We then drive on to the tiny cliff-top granite hamlet of Zennor. During World War II D.H. Lawrence and his German wife Frieda, desperate to escape from London, found refuge at Tower House just outside Zennor. He loved the place: “At Zennor, one sees infinite Atlantic, all peacock mingled colours and the gorse is sunshine itself.” However, their cliff walks gave rise to rumours that they were signalling to German submarines, and in October, 1917, the Lawrences were served with an order to leave Cornwall. In April, 1916 Lawrence had invited his friends Katherine Mansfield and her partner John Middleton Murry to come and share the beauty of Zennor with them, in a sort of literary commune that he named ‘Rananim’. However, the experiment did not work. Lawrence seems to have been physically attracted to Murry, Katherine hated the cold wind and the stony landscape, and the violent fights regularly occurring in the Lawrence home, with hurled plates and fisticuffs, proved too much for both Katherine and John. They left after only two months. The place was productive and inspirational for Lawrence, but not for Katherine Mansfield. Helen Dunmore’s 1993 novel Zennor in Darkness is also set in the village. Zennor is a fascinating place. We will visit the Norman Church of St Senara, which has many interesting features including a carved mermaid, and enjoy refreshments at the Tinners Arms.

As we return to our hotel, we will view Talland House, holiday home of young Virginia Woolf, and see the plaque on the building. (Overnight St Ives) B

Day 8: Friday 16 May, St Ives – Cornish Coastline – Trerice – St Ives
  • Cornish coastline
  • Trerice House, Newquay
  • Afternoon at leisure

The morning will be driving along the rugged part of Cornwall where Ross and Demelza, together with smugglers and tin miners, fill the twelve volumes written by Winston Graham. Along this Cornish coastline we will discover other sites associated with the popular Poldark series that was both set and filmed in this part of England.

We will then have morning tea at Trerice House, an Elizabethan gem near Newquay, that is the home Winston Graham had in mind for Trenwith in his popular Poldark series, where Ross’s sweetheart Elizabeth lives unhappily with her husband Francis. We will explore this charming house and garden.

On our way back to St Ives, we will drive through a spectacular stretch of the north Cornwall coast with views of the dramatic cliffs.

The afternoon will be spent back in St Ives where you have time at leisure to explore this holiday resort town or enjoy a rest at the hotel. 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 Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon, Barbara Hepworth, Piet Mondrian, Naum Gabo and Paule Vézelay. Otherwise the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden where the 20th century sculptor lived and worked is another fascinating place to visit. (Overnight St Ives) B

Torquay - 2 nights

Day 9: Saturday 17 May, St Ives – Fowey – Polperro – Torquay
  • Rebecca Walk, Fowey
  • Free time in the village of Polperro

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 you may wish to visit during your time at leisure. In the late afternoon we depart for Torquay, our home for the next two nights. (Overnight Torquay) BD

Day 10: Sunday 18 May, Torquay – Brixham – Torquay
  • Torquay Museum
  • Agatha Christie Mile, Torquay
  • Greenway House & Gardens, Galpton, nr. Brixham

In 1916 a young woman living in Torquay wrote her first novel. It was to be four 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, visit the Agatha Christie exhibition in the Torquay Museum, walk the Agatha Christie Mile, 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 Torquay) B

Moreton-in-Marsh - 3 nights

Day 11: Monday 19 May, Torquay – Slad – Moreton-in-Marsh
  • 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 fifteen, home at nineteen.

Lee was forty-five 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.

With our guide we will follow 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. We will then stop for drinks at his favourite haunt, Slad’s down-to-earth Woolpack Inn. Today, his grave in the village churchyard overlooks the Woolpack and, as Slad people say, he lies between pulpit and pub. (Overnight Moreton-in-Marsh) BL

Day 12: Tuesday 20 May, Moreton-in-Marsh – Cheltenham – Stow-on-the-Wold – Chipping Campden – Great Rollright – Moreton in Marsh
  • Stanway House, Cheltenham
  • Lunch at leisure in Stow-on-the-Wold
  • Burnt Norton, Chipping Campden
  • Rollright Stones, Great Rollright

J.M. Barrie, author of the much loved 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 that he paid for a cricket pavilion at Stanway House and founded an amateur cricket team, the Allahakbarries, made up of his friends (including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Jerome K. Jerome, G.K. Chesterton, A.A. Milne, and P.G. Wodehouse!). We will be treated to a visit to Stanway House which will include a literary tour of Stanway and morning tea. The fountain will be turned on especially for us.

We are having lunch in the quaintly named Cotswold’s town of Stow-on-the-Wold.

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 ‘Burnt Norton’, published under the name of Caroline Sandon. In 1934, T.S. Eliot was inspired whilst rambling in the derelict gardens of the then unoccupied house 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?”

We end the day with a visit to 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. (Overnight Moreton-in-Marsh) B

Day 13: Wednesday 21 May, Moreton-in-Marsh – Kelmscott – Swinbrook – Asthall – Burford – Batsford – Moreton-in-Marsh
  • William Morris’ grave at St George’s churchyard, Kelmscott
  • Kelmscott Manor
  • Mitford graves at St Mary’s churchyard, Swinbrook
  • Asthall Manor (Exterior) and St Nicholas Church, Burford
  • Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre

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, Pam, 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. The tiny church next door is where “Uncle Matthew” timed the poor parson giving the sermon.  Batsford Park was home of the Mitford Sisters before they moved to Asthall Manor. We take a visit to the extensive gardens of the estate now an arboretum with a collection of rare trees. (Overnight Moreton-in-Marsh) BL

Helmsley - 2 nights

Day 14: Thursday 22 May, Moreton-in-Marsh – Renishaw – Helmsley
  • Renishaw Hall

We depart Moreton-in-Marsh early this morning and travel to Renishaw Hall, a country house in Derbyshire where the Sitwell family has lived in this ancestral home for nearly four centuries. It is also thought to be the house that inspired the Chatterley’s home in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and it was the home used as ‘Pemberley’ in the 1980 TV film of Pride and Prejudice. On arrival we visit Renishaw’s beautiful Italianate garden, park and lake, that were created by Sir George Sitwell, father of writers Osbert, Edith and Sacheverell. Sir George spent much of his life in Italy, where he had bought the huge palace-villa, Montegufoni. In England, he wanted to create an Italian garden in contrast to Gertrude Jekyll’s ‘colourful’ designs. The use of water, fountains, temples, cave and avenues adds effect and shelter for tender specimen plants. The interior of Renishaw Hall, which features an antechamber designed by Edwin Lutyens, is graced with many Italian artworks and pieces of furniture collected by Sir George. The painting collection includes Salvator Rosa’s Belisarius in Disgrace, a painting that was once much appreciated by Benjamin Franklin, and also the largest private collection of John Piper artworks. Our tour will have a literary focus, as Renishaw Hall is a house ‘built on books’, with a wide range of literary interests and connections over a period of almost 400 years. Each Sitwell generation has made its unique contribution to the literary legacy of the house and the family, particularly the famous ‘literary trio’ – Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell. Our tour will follow the fortunes of the Sitwell family as wealthy book collectors in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and will include a special visit to the Renishaw Hall Library.

Our base for the next two nights will be Helmsley, one of Yorkshire’s most attractive market towns. (Overnight Helmsley) BLD

Day 15: Friday 23 May, Helmsley – Coxwold – Castle Howard – Helmsley
  • 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 Richmond) BL

Lincoln - 3 nights

Day 16: Saturday 24 May, Helmsley – Whitby – Scarborough – Lincoln
  • Literary walking tour of Whitby incl. Whitby Abbey
  • Anne Brontë’s grave at St Mary’s churchyard, 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. 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.

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.

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 Lincoln) B

Day 17: Sunday 25 May, Lincoln – Lichfield – Lincoln
  • Erasmus Darwin House, Lichfield
  • Lichfield Cathedral (optional)
  • Dr Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield

This is another day of travel. 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. Nestled in the Cathedral Close, Darwin House was once the family home of doctor, inventor and published poet Erasmus Darwin. 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 Erasmus Darwin House and Dr Samuel Johnson’s birthplace, and there will be time to also see Lichfield Cathedral. (Overnight Lincoln) B

Day 18: Monday 26 May, Lincoln – Tennyson Country – Lincoln
  • Lincoln Cathedral
  • Time at leisure in Lincoln

The beautiful city of Lincoln is in the heart of Tennyson country. This morning we visit the 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. This afternoon  will be free to explore the historic city. The Jew’s House dates from c.1170 and is one of the oldest houses in Britain still in use. (Overnight Lincoln) B

Cambridge - 2 nights

Day 19: Tuesday 27 May, Lincoln – Stamford – Cambridge
  • Stamford: Morning tea
  • Pepys Library, Cambridge (To be confirmed)

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 century 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.

One 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 superb Pepys Library. (Overnight Cambridge) B

Day 20: Wednesday 28 May, 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
  • Farewell Meal at Market House Cambridge

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 are on display.

After lunch, we travel just out of Cambridge to the quaint rural village of Grantchester, setting of the recent popular TV series based on the novels of James Runcie. 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. 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 explore Grantchester 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.

Our farewell dinner tonight is at Market House Cambridge on Market Hill, in the heritage building that used to be Cambridge’s earliest telephone exchanges in 1892. (Overnight Cambridge) BD

Day 21: Thursday 29 May: Cambridge – Chalfont St Giles – Stoke Poges – Heathrow
  • Milton’s Cottage, Chalfont St Giles
  • St. Giles Church and churchyard, Stoke Poges
  • Transfer to London Heathrow Airport arriving at approximately 5pm

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.

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, arriving at approximately 5pm, where we must all say goodbye. B  



ASA has selected 3- to 4-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure, in the meantime a summary is given below:

  • Portsmouth (5 nights): 4-star Florence House Boutique Hotel – a charming hotel located in the seaside resort of Southsea, a short walk from the beach and numerous restaurants. www.florencehousehotel.co.uk
  • St Ives (3 nights): 4-star St Ives Harbour Hotel Restaurant & Spa – overlooking Porthminster Beach and St Ives Bay, located 750m from St Ives harbour and a 2 min walk to the beach. www.stives-harbour-hotel.co.uk
  • Torquay (2 nights): 3-star The Headland Hotel & Spa – an elegant Victorian seafront hotel with sea views of Torbay. headlandtorquay.com
  • Moreton-in-Marsh (3 nights): 4-star The Manor House Hotel – a converted 16th century manor house with private walled gardens, located on the famous Roman Fosse Way. www.cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk/the-manor-house-hotel
  • Helmsley (2 nights): 3-star The Black Swan – an historic hotel dating back to the 15th Century, overlooking the market square. www.inncollectiongroup.com/the-black-swan
  • Lincoln (3 nights): 3-star The Castle Lincoln – located in the heart of the medieval city, within easy walking distance of the cathedral. castlehotel.net
  • Cambridge (2 nights): 4-star Hilton Cambridge City Centre – located 600m from the city centre, within easy walking distance of the historic colleges and other attractions. www3.hilton.com

Please note that the hotel in Helmsley does not have a lift.

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

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation is for sole occupancy throughout the tour. The number of spaces available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $1000.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Practical Information

Practical Information

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, seven 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 Literary Tour of England 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 4-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 (where porterage is available, Helmsley hotel does not offer this service).

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.

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: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $15,880.00 Land Content Only

AUD $3890.00 Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3- to 4-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and dinners indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers according to the times as outlined in the tour itinerary
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person where available at hotels (Helmsley hotel does not offer this service, and not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour Handbook
  • Entrance fees
  • 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
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

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 cancel 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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