Some tours from london

Some ideas for guided tours from a London base

Here are brief descriptions of some of the most popular sightseeing destinations from London. Suggestions for additional visits appear after each description. Click on the images to enlarge.

If you would like a different combination or another destination that is not listed do please ask.
A list of the more popular combinations can be seen on the fees page

Windsor Castle

A castle and a palace in one. Started by William the Conqueror in the eleventh century and still the Queen’s favourite official residence. You can enjoy some of the Royal Collection of art in the sumptuous State Apartments, used by the Queen and other members of the Royal family for state occasions and entertaining other honoured guests. See paintings by great artists (Van Dyck, Canaletto, Rubens, Rembrandt etc.), carpets, furniture, clocks, porcelain. Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is a fully furnished royal palace, just one twelfth normal size. An extra dimension to exquisite craftsmanship. 15th century St. George’s Chapel contains the chapel of the Order of the Garter and is a burial place of Kings and Queens. It is also seen several royal weddings, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2018.  The funeral of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh took place in there earlier this year. 5 hours Can be combined into a full day with: London Hampton Court Palace Oxford Chartwell Stonehenge
Hampton Court Palace

Once described as “One of the most modern, sophisticated and magnificent palaces in England”, Hampton Court Palace was built for Cardinal Wolsey in 1514 and taken over by Henry VIII in 1528 (he had 4 of his 6 honeymoons here!). It was at the centre of court life, politics and national history for nearly 200 years. Christopher Wren constructed new state apartments for William and Mary in the 1690s. We can visit the Tudor buildings – great hall, extensive kitchens, Haunted Gallery, Chapel Royal – and William III’s State Apartments before strolling through some of the gardens.

4 or 5 hours
Can be combined into a full day with:
London
Windsor Castle
Chartwell

Chartwell

The family home of Winston Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister during the Second World War, and one of the most astonishingly many-faceted men in British history. He bought Chartwell in 1922 and transformed it into a light and airy home, “in which a man could live and work and bring up a family”. He wrote, painted, laid bricks and entertained his guests (from Charlie Chaplin to Professor Einstein). The main rooms are as they were during the 1930s. There is a display of some of the many gifts and honours he received and an exhibition giving an insight into his life.  You can visit the studio which contains his first and last paintings and many in between. The gardens are a delight.

5 hours
Can be combined into a full day with:
Cabinet War Rooms
Hever Castle
Leeds Castle
Windsor Castle.

Hever Castle

Hever Castle is a perfect example of a Tudor moated castle. It was the home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and mother of Elizabeth I, and later given to Anne of Cleves (Henry’s 4th wife). William Waldorf Astor acquired the property in 1903, restored it and made it into a cosy country home. He also built a Tudor village to house his guests and laid out the gardens. It is a testament to his impeccable taste (and considerable wealth).

5 hours
Can be combined into a full day with:
Chartwell
Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

In an idyllic setting surrounded by water, Leeds Castle has been described variously as “a happy castle” and “the Loveliest Castle in the World”. It was a royal palace for over three hundred years, and has impinged on the wider history of both England and America. The Anglo-American Olive Lady Baillie, who had the style, imagination and the means to complete the restoration of the castle, ensured that Leeds would be enjoyed by future generations.
There are also delightful flower gardens, an aviary and a maze in the extensive landscaped grounds.

 

6 hours
Can be combined into a full day with:
Chartwell
Hever Castle
Canterbury
Dover

Oxford

“That sweet city with her dreaming spires”. Oxford University is the oldest in the English-speaking world and is still one of the world’s most successful. Some of the greatest minds have developed there and some great issues debated. The colleges, which form a large part of this ancient establishment, offer oases of academic inspiration, fellowship and tranquillity in a bustling commercial city. A walk through the town will take us by some of the main buildings and I would hope to be able to take you inside one of the colleges. Some of the recent associations with Oxford include Harry Potter and Inspector Morse.

6 hours on its own.
Can be combined into a full day with:
Windsor Castle
Blenheim Palace
Cotswolds
Stonehenge
Stratford upon Avon

Blenheim Palace

This huge stately home was built by John Vanburgh early in the 18th century for John Churchill the first Duke of Marlborough – a monument to a national hero. It is set in 2,700 acres of parkland and the view across the lake has been described as the finest in England. During your tour you will see family portraits by Kneller, Romney, Reynolds and Sargent. Porcelain and french furniture including rare pieces of Boule, and of course those incredible Blenheim tapestries. There is an exhibition about Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim (one of two important decision he made here). He is buried in a country churchyard nearby.

10 hours as part of a full day.
Can be combined with:
Oxford
Bampton
The Cotswolds
Stratford upon Avon

The Cotswolds

Picture book English countryside – green, pleasant and manicured. Rolling hills with vistas and big skies. The enclosed fields are dotted with sheep and punctuated by woodland and picturesque villages along winding country roads. From Elizabethan manor houses, cottages and pubs, to the miles of dry-stone walls, the mellow, honey-coloured Cotswolds stone prevails. You can stroll around a village or two, like Broadway or Stow-on-the-Wold and browse in the antique shops and craft shops. There are colourful gardens of which the once trend-setting Hidcote is justifiably the most famous.

10 hours.
Can be combined with:
Oxford
Blenheim Palace
Stratford upon Avon

Stratford upon Avon

This prosperous market town is where William Shakespeare spent his formative years, where his family lived and where he is buried, in a place of honour in the parish church (the stone bears an odd inscription). We can visit the house in which he was born and the farmhouse where he went a-courting Anne Hathaway where we will hear something of the way of life in the 16th century (including how they swept their chimneys!). There are several other timber-framed buildings in the town and other properties associated with Shakespeare. The town boasts three theatres where you can see performances by the famous Royal Shakespeare Company.

10 hours as part of a full day.
Can be combined with:
Warwick Castle,
The Cotswolds
Oxford

Stonehenge

Can you unravel the mystery of this World Heritage Site that has been puzzling people for centuries? An inspiring mysterious antiquity from a time when people understood the power of, and were in tune with, mother earth . . or is it just a pile of rocks? We know that it was constructed between around 3000 and 1700 BC, but why? A place or worship? A calendar? A place of healing? A pre-historic rocket-launching pad, perhaps? How did they transport, shape and erect the enormous stones, which weigh up to 45 tons? And, again, why?

6 hours on its own.
Can be combined with:
Windsor Castle
Highclere
Salisbury
Wilton House
Bath

Highclere Castle – Downton Abbey

Ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Transformed into this distinctive Victorian Gothic pile by Sir Charles Barry (Houses of Parliament) and set in 1,000 acres of sweeping parkland.
The interior reflects a taste that is typical of the landed aristocrats in the 19th century. From the masculine library (reminiscent of a gentlemen’s club) and smoking room to the more elegant (feminine?) Drawing Room.
The Egyptian exhibition is a legacy of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun with Howard Carter.
Highclere is perhaps better known as Downton Abbey, home of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and many of the scenes in that television series were filmed in the house.  The author, Julian Fellowes, is a friend of the family and there are similarities between events in the life of the fictitious Downton and real-life Highclere.

6 hours on its own or 9 hours as a Downton Abbey day with Bampton (Downton Village).
Can also be combined with other destinations.

Bampton

Otherwise known as Downton village in Downton Abbey, where all the external village scenes were filmed. The bus to Harrogate stops here and the funfair is held on the village green. We will see the post office where the telegramme was received in the first episode, the road to the house and the lock-up where Thomas Barrow stored his “flour”. The Cottage Hospital. Mrs Crawley’s house and the church were weddings and funerals took place. We can stand on the spot where Sir Anthony did the gentlemanly thing by Lady Edith and where eventually it was proved that he had been right.

Usually combined with Highclere Castle as a 9-hour Downton Abbey day.
Can be combined with:
Oxford
Blenheim Palace
Cotswolds.

And other Downton sites:
Cogges Farm
Swinbrook

Salisbury

Salisbury Cathedral never fails to delight. The grace and harmony of this Early English Gothic masterpiece is a testament to 13th century craftsmanship. Its spire, at 404 feet high, is the loftiest in England and its setting in a tranquil close has inspired painters, such as Turner and Constable. An exemplification (I was told off once for calling it a copy) of the Magna Carta is here and the richly coloured glass in the east window illustrates the suffering of Prisoners of Conscience.

From 9 hours when combined with:
Stonehenge
Winchester
Bath
Wilton House

Bath

The Romans exploited the hot springs, building a leisure complex around them. The city that developed was dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, invention, the arts, and martial prowess. Those same waters were taken to relieve gout and indigestion in the 18th century when Bath became the centre of fashionable society. Today’s city was built during that Georgian era – the age of elegance, epitomised by its timeless classical buildings of honey-coloured Bath (Cotswold) stone. We can visit the Roman Baths and the elegant Pump Room, where you can drink the water! The Assembly Rooms houses the fascinating Museum of Costume.  Jane Austen lived here and wrote about Bath. It is therefore an understandably popular filming location for that period. Including the recent Netflix series Bridgerton. Take a moment or two to wander among the bustling shops where hanging baskets of flowers add splashes of colour. 

Can be combined with:
Stonehenge
Salisbury
Avebury
Lacock

Canterbury

King Ethelbert welcomed St Augustine when he came here in the year 597AD to convert him from Saxon Paganism to Christianity. He built a monastery and Canterbury became the cradle of Christianity in England.
The cathedral is the mother church of the Anglican Communion and is one of the glories of English mediaeval architecture. The shrine of St Thomas Becket, who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170, became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England.

From 9 hours as part of a full day.
Can be combined with:
Dover
Leeds Castle