‘Thank you for an absolutely wonderful four days! We are still overwhelmed with all that we have seen and learned’ – Michelle, Phyllis and Jensina, USA
The Brief – to devise a four-day tour for three American ladies, starting from South Kensington in London, of Cotswolds gardens, especially Arts and Crafts gardens, to see Jane Austen’s Bath, and if possible to see a major Tudor building, finishing the tour in Bath
The Proposal – we recommended a visit to Hampton Court Palace before starting our tour as there was no major Tudor building in the Cotswold region open at the right time for us
Day 1 – London to Kelmscott Manor, beautiful country home on the banks of the River Thames of William Morris, leading light in the Arts and Crafts Movement, then on to Rodmarton Manor, an early 20th century Arts and Crafts house and gardens – overnight at Cheltenham hotel
Day 2 – Cheltenham to Hidcote Manor Gardens, a major Arts and Crafts garden established by American garden designer Lawrence Johnston, now run by the National Trust, then the short distance to Kiftsgate Court with beautiful gardens tended by several generations of the same family, and fine views off the Cotswold edge, followed by a break in the picturesque Cotswold village of Broadway before visiting nearby Snowshill Manor with its small Arts and Crafts garden and, again, wonderful views – overnight at Cheltenham hotel
Day 3 – Cheltenham to Abbey House Gardens, Malmesbury, relatively young but stunning gardens in a historic setting next to the Abbey at the top of a river cliff, the work of dedicated naturist gardeners, followed by a visit to the historic villages of Lacock and Castle Combe – overnight at Bath hotel
Day 4 – A visit to Number One Royal Crescent Museum housing an authentic late 18th century interior, a visit to the Jane Austen Centre, and a slow tour in the car of the many Bath sites associated with Jane Austen, followed by a final visit to Prince Charles’s gardens at his country home, Highgrove House, for a garden tour and traditional afternoon tea – overnight at Bath hotel before departure by train
The tour was planned so as to have stays each of two nights in two comfortable hotels to avoid too much checking-in and -out, and to provide a balance between the interests of the three ladies in the party. It worked very well.