Hidden Gardens & Historic Houses of London

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August 29th – September 4th, 2016- $3,900 per person
$3,750 for Royal Oak members

Behind the hustle and bustle of modern city life, many hidden and little known gems are nestled amidst the streets of London. From impressive National Trust places and quirky homes to tranquil gardens, we uncover the history of the capital of England through this eclectic mix of properties and green spaces, each with a fascinating story to tell.

Day 1: Arrival

On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, our hotel for the duration of our stay. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.

Day 2: Ham House & Gardens and Strawberry Hill House

Ham House, Surrey

Ham House, Surrey


We take a scenic drive to Ham House and Gardens, one of Europe’s greatest 17th-century houses nestling on the banks of the River Thames. This atmospheric mansion has remained virtually unchanged for 400 years and we find out more about the family who lived at Ham on our guided house tour.

Our afternoon visit is to Strawberry Hill House, a magnificent Gothic Revival villa created by author Horace Walpole in the 18th century to house his vast collection of treasures. Elegant and eccentric, it is Britain’s finest example of this style of architecture and we have the chance to see the highlights of both the house and garden with a guided tour.

Day 3: Red House, Rainham Hall, St Dunstan in the East and Dennis Severs’ House

We visit Red House, the only house commissioned, created and lived in by William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Only recently acquired by the National Trust, conservation work has revealed more about the house including a previously undiscovered pre-Raphaelite Genesis wall painting. We enjoy morning coffee after our visit.

Next stop is Rainham Hall, a fine example of a Queen Anne house built in 1729 by an enterprising merchant and ship’s captain, when the River Thames was the gateway to the world. Re-opened in 2015 after a major restoration project, this remarkably intact house once held a pivotal place, connecting village life with river commerce until the 1920s.

We then head to St Dunstan in the East Garden, a unique city garden with imaginative planting, built amongst the ruins of a medieval church that was severely bombed during World War II.

We then make our way to Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields, where the rooms have been recreated to portray the lives of Huguenot silk weavers between 1724 and 1914. This “still life drama” takes us through rooms lit by fire and candlelight with different sights, smells and sounds that evoke the lives of its previous occupants.

Day 4: Dr Johnson’s House, ‘Hidden Gardens of the City’ Walk, Somerset House & the Courtauld Gallery and Kensington Roof Gardens

Somerset House, London

Somerset House, London

We start the day at Dr Johnson’s House, a charming Georgian townhouse nestled in the midst of the City of London. Home of the 18th century writer Dr Samuel Johnson, the historic interiors have a wealth of original features and a collection of his effects, period furniture and portraits.

Next, our ‘Hidden Gardens of the City’ Walk explores the beautiful gardens and amazing history of the edge of the City of London. Somerset House is a spectacular Neo-classical building and a major arts and cultural centre in the heart of London. Here we view the Courtauld Gallery’s collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture and decorative arts, ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century.

Later, we enjoy refreshments at Kensington Roof Gardens, situated on top of the former Derry and Toms department store. One of London’s secret treasures, the gardens opened in May 1938 and are divided into three distinct areas; traditional English, formal Spanish and Tudor.

Day 5: Leighton House, 18 Stafford Terrace, Carlyle’s House and Kyoto Garden

We visit Leighton House, the former studiohouse of artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, one of the most famous British artists of the Victorian age. This 19th-century building contains a fascinating collection of paintings and sculpture by Leighton and his contemporaries and features the extraordinary Arab Hall with its golden dome, intricate mosaics and beautiful Islamic tiles.

Close by is 18 Stafford Terrace, home to Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne. This well-preserved late Victorian townhouse gives an insight into the personal lives of the Sambourne family, and also provides a rare example of the ‘Aesthetic’ style of the late 19th century.

Next is Carlyle’s House in Chelsea, home of 19th-century writer and historian Thomas Carlyle. Once the hub of Victorian literary society, when the likes of Dickens, Ruskin and Tennyson visited, the house has been preserved much as it was during Carlyle’s tenure here.

Finally, we visit the beautiful and immaculately kept Japanese Kyoto Garden, contained within Holland Park.

Back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.

Day 6: Southside House, Frogmore House and The Savill Garden

We start our morning at Southside House. Wonderfully eccentric in taste, the house reflects the lives and loves of generations of the Pennington Mellor Munthe families. With a superb collection of art and historical objects, Southside offers a wealth of fascinating family stories, which we enjoy on our specialist guided tour, followed by refreshments.

We then explore The Savill Garden, one of the finest royal gardens within Windsor Great Park, created in the late 1930s by Sir Eric Savill. On arrival we will have an exclusive private lunch in a venue overlooking The Savill Garden, we will be joined by one of their expert gardeners who will be on hand to answer any of your gardening questions. We will then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring this fascinating garden in more detail.

Back at the hotel tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner.

Day 7: Departure

A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow airport for your return flight home.

What’s Included

• Airport transfers
• 6 nights at the Macdonald Windsor Hotel
• Welcome drink and canapés
• Full English breakfast and 3-course table d’hôte dinner each day
• After dinner tea and coffee
• Services of a tour director throughout your stay
• Travel by comfortable motor coach
• All entrance costs
• Porterage

Special extras included in your itinerary

• Guided tour at Ham House
• Guided house and garden tour at Strawberry Hill House
• Morning coffee at Red House
• Refreshments at Kensington Roof Gardens
• Specialist guided tour and refreshments at Southside House
• Themed evening talk by a guest speaker

Your Hotel

All Nights
The Macdonald Windsor Hotel
is situated in the heart of the historic town of Windsor, opposite the famous Windsor Castle. The classic interiors, with a contemporary edge, fit perfectly with the Georgian elegance of this townhouse hotel. The luxury bedrooms are individually-designed and the hotel also offers a stylish bar and restaurant.

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