Oxford and the Gardens of the Cotswolds
Oxford Tour "pre" Chelsea in Style
May 14 - May 22, 2016
Our wildly popular Oxford and the Gorgeous Cotswolds gardens tours return in 2017 (now
in its sixth year this trip is better than ever!)
Our guests are enthralled
by Oxford and love the time this tour affords them to explore the
museums, art galleries, shops, history and gardens of this wonderful city.
We are thrilled to offer a package that includes visits to the
best gardens and villages of the Cotswolds area. Not only will you love
the amazing gardens, the private tours, the memorable dining experiences
and first-class guides, but you will be traveling with a group of garden
lovers just like yourself.
When combined with our 28th annual Chelsea In Style trip this is the
BEST way to see the most spectacular gardens in England.
Sunday, May 14 ~ Travel day, meals on-board flights.
Afternoon or evening departure to London, England (please contact us for help arranging flights).
Monday, May 15 ~ Hampton Court visit, welcome dinner at the Randolph Hotel.
Arrive in London and meet your Blue Badge Guide and Huron Tours &
Travel tour managers who will be with you the entire tour. Transfer by
private motorcoach to the historic and vibrant city of Oxford which will be our home base for the next 7 days.
En-route to Oxford, we'll visit the famous Hampton Court Palace and Gardens for a self guided tour.
The Royal residence is situated on the banks of the Thames, south-west of London.
Started by Cardinal Wolsey in 1514, Hampton Court was confiscated in 1529 by Henry VIII and
beginning in 1689 Sir Christopher Wren started work on many enhancements.
During your visit you can explore the apartments filled with period porcelain, furniture, paintings, and tapestries.
The real draw for our Huron Travelers will no doubt be the Palace Gardens!
Hampton Court has nearly 60 acres of formal gardens featuring 200,000 flowering
bulbs and 140,000 plants which are grown in the palace nurseries. The palace gardens
date back to the 16th Century when the first Privy garden was laid out
between 1530 and 1538 for Henry VIII. Be sure to see the famous Hampton Court Maze which
was planted in 1714 and covers a third of an acre and contains a half a mile of plants.
Upon arrival in Oxford, we'll check into the perfectly located Randolph Hotel
in the heart of historic Oxford.
This historic, stunning and unique hotel is a beautifully restored
property and features fabulous original architecture and every first
class amenity you can imagine. It is a luxury hotel like no other and
we are so thrilled to be staying at this unique hotel for our tour of
the gardens of the Cotswolds.
This evening we'll enjoy a very special welcome dinner in the Randolph Hotel's private dining room featuring traditional
British cuisine using only the freshest local ingredients.
Tuesday, May 16 ~ Oxford orientation walk, Cotswold village visit, Barnsley House visit and dinner.
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, our very own Oxford graduate and Blue Badge Guide will
lead us on a private Oxford Orientation. We'll see Oxford's highlights, while getting a feel for how easy it is
to explore this vibrant, welcoming city full of history.
Dotted throughout the beautiful Cotswolds countryside are absolute gems
of little medieval villages. Today, following our Oxford orientation,
we'll set out to visit one of our favorites, Burford, to experience the magic that
draws thousands of tourists through this area each year. Burford,
the banks of the River Windrush, has maintained its charm, and is of
historical significance having held a local market for the past 900
years. It also is home to one of the top 20 churches of the Cotswolds,
which boasts a charming garden of its own, and is open to visit.
A special treasure awaits us this evening at the late Rosemary Verey's Barnsley House and Gardens.
Barnsley House’s four acre garden is the epitome of a delightful
English garden and blends many styles in an artful and pleasing
combination with subtle and beautiful color and texture coordination.
The house dates from 1697 and the garden is enclosed on three sides by
a stone wall dating from 1770. Their head gardener Richard
never fails to provide us an informative and enthusiastic tour, and he
delights our tour each year.
Following a private tour of this garden of unmatched character,
we will enjoy a wonderful dinner made with the freshest ingredients from the
kitchen garden in Barnsley’s beautiful restaurant with delightful garden views.
Wednesday, May 17 ~ Visits to Hidcote and Kiftsgate Gardens. Breakfast included at hotel today.
This morning we’ll depart for two amazing visits: Hidcote Manor & Kiftsgate Court Gardens.
Nestled in the beautiful North Cotswolds with stunning views of the Valley of Evesham, Hidcote
is one of England’s greatest arts and crafts gardens and consists of a
series of outdoor “rooms”, each with its own distinct character and
theme. These rooms, such as the 'White Garden' and 'Fuchsia Garden' are
linked together by imaginative vistas and furnished with topiaries.
Some have ponds and fountains, and all are planted with flowers in
bedding schemes. You will have plenty of time to explore this
astonishing creation and enjoy lunch at your leisure before we depart
for our next stop, Kiftsgate Court Gardens.
Famous for its roses, Kiftsgate is the creation of
three generations of women gardeners and is all about plants and use of
color. It was made by Heather Muir with much help from Major Johnston
of Hidcote. This 20th century garden is blessed with color and an
informal atmosphere. Most impressively, there is a wonderful display of
bulbs in the spring. A woodland garden steps down the hillside to a
half-moon swimming pool. Many features are typical of the Arts and
Crafts period: herbaceous borders, a four square garden, a white
garden, a yellow border, a rockery, lawns and a bluebell wood. The
Kiftsgate Water Garden, called the New Garden, has a bronze leaf
sculpture by Simon Allison. The water garden was designed by the owners
(Anne and Johnny Chambers).
Huron Tours finds Kifsgate Garden to be one of the most charming spots in all of England.
Tonight dinner is on your own. Be sure to review our extensive list of Oxford restaurant recommendations included in your
tour documents, most are within easy walking distance of our hotel.
Thursday, May 18 ~ Visits to Highgrove Gardens and Tetubury.
Breakfast and lunch included.
After a leisurely breakfast and morning on your own, we'll depart for a very special day out.
We'll begin our day with a tour of Highgrove Gardens - the Private Gardens of Their Royal Highness
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.
The Prince of Wales has spent 30 years transforming the grounds of Highgrove into what have been
acknowledged as some of the most inspired and innovative gardens in the United Kingdom.
His Royal Highness’s strict adherence to organic and sustainable methods has helped create
gardens which are both magical and intriguing while being environmentally sound; encouraging
both plants and wildlife to thrive. Our extensive tour will be led by one of His Royal Highness's Garden Guides.
We’ll enjoy lunch together today in the beautiful setting of Highgrove’s Orchard Room.
After lunch we’ll head into the nearby town of Tetbury, a true architectural gem as many of
the wool merchants houses still look as they did 300 years ago. Tetbury is well known for its
many antique shops, and several shops boasting the "Royal Warrant of Appointment", and you will have time to browse
and stroll before we head back in to Oxford for a night on your own.
This evening, those who would like to experience an authentic (and informal) British
Pub dining experience will join Katie and John for a short walk to their favorite nearby pub.
We'll help you navigate the ordering process, a raise a glass of the local bitter (beer, of whatever you like) in cheers!
Friday, May 19 ~ Blenheim Palace, lunch at the Bear, village of Woodstock visit. Breakfast at the hotel.
Neighboring Oxford is the home of the 11th Duke and Dutchess of Malborough, Blenheim Palace.
Blenheim Palace and Gardens, named the 2008 Garden of the Year by
Christie’s and the Historic House Association.
Set in 2100 acres of beautiful parkland, Blenheim Palace was built for
the first Duke of Marlborough and is the birthplace of Winston
Churchill. The vast mansion is a unique example of English Baroque
Architecture and one of England’s largest houses. The gardens,
landscaped by the famous landscape architect, Capability Brown, offer
quite the variety! From the beauty and tranquility of the formal and
rose gardens to the charm of the
Arboretum, there is something to suit every taste at Blenheim. The
Secret garden is one of the most popular attractions for plant lovers
as it is
a garden for all seasons combining mature trees with new plantings.
After exploring Blenheim, we'll enjoy lunch together at the award winning Bear Restaurant in the nearby town of Woodstock.
Following lunch, you'll have time to visit Woodstock.
The Domesday Book of 1086 describes Woodstock (Wodestock, Wodestok,
Wodestole) as a royal forest, and it is now a town of easy-to-explore
historic streets as lovely as any found in the Cotswolds. Woodstock has
many interesting boutiques, unique art galleries and antique shops. The
Oxfordshire Museum in the heart of town is also worth a visit.
Tonight, dinner is on your own in Oxford. Ask Katie or John for their favorites.
Saturday, May 20 ~ Free day. Breakfast at hotel, dinner at Balliol college.
A completely free day to enjoy Oxford and its many museums, shops, and historical attractions.
You might wish to spend the day at Oxford’s Botanical Gardens-the oldest in the U.K. and just a short walk from our hotel.
If you enjoy museums, you won’t have to look far to find some of the best.
The famous Ashmolean is vast, impressive and is Britain’s oldest public museum.
Other highlights include the Oxford University Museums of Natural History, The
Pitt-Rivers Museum and the Christ Church Picture Gallery just to name a few.
If shopping strikes your fancy, Oxford has the oldest covered market in England
and there are a large number of wonderful shops in the city centre right near
your hotel. For the bookworm (like we are!) be sure to visit Blackwell’s Books
which is the largest space dedicated to book sales in Europe and a tourist
attraction in itself.
Be sure to review our ‘What to Do and See in Oxford’ guide that is included in
your final tour documents. It will assist you in making the most of your free
time in this amazing city.
For our final evening together in Oxford, we'll enjoy a once in a lifetime
private Farewell Dinner at Balliol College.
Balliol is arguably the oldest and
leading intellectual college at Oxford. It has stood at the site where we will
be having dinner longer than any college in the English-Speaking world. In
addition to the college itself we will also have access to the beautiful garden
quad and the Chapel. This will be an evening you won’t forget.
Sunday, May 21 ~ Transfer to London, Chelsea Physic Garden visit and lunch.
Breakfast at hotel before departure. Free night in London.
Enjoy a morning of leisure before we depart for London. En-route to our hotel we'll visit the famed Chelsea Physic Garden
where we will also enjoy lunch together.
Situated behind the Royal Hospital site where the Chelsea Flower Show
is held each year, this 4 acre garden of horticultural delights was
first an Apothecaries’ garden when it was established in 1673. It is
the 2nd oldest Botanical garden in the U.K. after Oxford’s Botanical
Garden. It is home to one of the oldest rock garden in Europe and also
boasts several rare plants, an herb garden with culinary and medicinal
plants as well as a glass house.
We depart the Physic Garden and make our way to our fabulous hotel in London's posh
South Kensington neighborhood. This evening you are totally free to explore London as you wish.
Dinner is on your own this evening and you will have no trouble finding
an incredible restaurant to visit as London's latest "restaurant row"
is just steps from our hotel. You will find everything from French and Italian, to Moroccan and
Thai not to mention some of the best traditional English fare anywhere!
Make sure to review your London Restaurant Guide that we include in your final tour documents, or ask us for recommendations.
Monday, May 22 ~ Depart for home, or join our Chelsea Flower Show tour.
Breakfast at hotel before departure.
This morning you'll enjoy our hotel's excellent breakfast. For those of
you who are not joining our Chelsea Flower Show in Style tour, we'll
bid you a sad farewell as your private motorcoach whisks you to the
airport in time for your flights home (or take advantage of our special
group pricing at our hotel and extend your stay.)
continue your exploration of English gardens and attend the world's
greatest flower show by joining our Chelsea Flower Show in Style tour.
Onward for Chelsea Flower Show and London! (Click Here)
If the above Oxford dates don't work for you, you may want to consider taking our "English Garden Extension" or "London's Private Gardens Tour" post
Chelsea trips, both May 28 - May 31, 2017.
English Garden Extension.
London's Private Gardens (details coming soon)