All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.
Talk and dinner with David Starkey at magnificent Holdenby House
Magnificent Burghley House – with welcome talk and lunch
Grimsthorpe Castle – dating back to the 13thcentury
Belton House – “the perfect English country house
Elegant Elton Hall – a family home for more than 400 years
Join David Starkey for dinner and a lecture at Holdenby House, the highlight of this superb tour. The East Midlands is blessed with perhaps the highest concentration of grand stately homes of any region in the country, some of which are featured here including magnificent Burghley House and many more. Your tour guide is Nicholas Merchant, who will draw on his expertise in antiques to deliver a convival weekend exploring some of these great country houses, as well as the gorgeous town of Stamford, complete with an illustrative and illuminating lecture. Based on lovely Rutland Water in England’s smallest county, whose motto “multum in parvo” (much in little) sums up its appeal, encapsulated on this delightful tour. David Starkey needs no introduction as one of the country’s leading historians, often provocative but always entertaining and illuminating.
Day 1: Arrive independently at Barnsdale Lodge from 15.30 and enjoy a cream tea in the hotel’s conservatory. This evening there will be a welcome glass of prosecco, private dinner with wine and an introductory talk by Nicholas Merchant: ‘The Houses of Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire’.
Day 2: Elton Hall and dinner at Holdenby House with David Starkey.
Our first visit is to Elton Hall for a private tour. An extraordinary part-Gothic house, Elton Hall has been and continues to be the home of the Proby family since 1660. Return to the hotel with time to freshen up before a special private visit, dinner with wine and talk from David Starkey at Holdenby House, one of the largest prodigy houses of the Tudor period. Charles 1st was imprisoned here after Naseby and later transferred to Oatlands, Hampton court and finally, Carisbrooke Castle before his execution.
Day 3: Burghley, House and Stamford.
Today we head to magnificent Burghley House where there will be a welcome talk by Jon Culverhouse, followed by a free-flow visit of the house and a light lunch. A grand sixteenth century house and a leading example of the Elizabethan prodigy house, built by and still lived in by the Cecil family. Sir William Cecil was Lord High Treasurer to Elizabeth I and one of her closest advisors. More latterly, the house has been run by David Cecil, who won a gold medal at the 1928 Olympics and was the basis of a character in the Oscar-winning film, Chariots of Fire. The Olympic Corridor at Burghley acknowledges his achievements. After lunch we head to nearby Stamford, a delightful Georgian town, built of sandstone, with more than 600 listed buildings. It is, therefore, often used as a period setting for costume dramas, such as Middlemarch and Pride & Prejudice. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 4: Grimsthorpe Castle and Belton House.
Two wonderful houses on the agenda for our last day, starting with a guided tour of Grimsthorpe Castle. This magnificent castle has been in the Willoughby de Eresby family for 500 years and some parts of it date back to the 13th century. Our final visit is to Belton House, billed by the National Trust as “the perfect English country house”, built for Sir John Brownlow in the 1680s. It was the venue for secret trysts between Edward and Mrs Simpson in the 1930s. Return to the hotel for approximately 18.00.
Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 49 passengers.
Barnsdale Lodge, Rutland Water
Converted from an historic farmhouse that has been in the owner's family since 1760, the three-star Barnsdale Lodge offers comfortable accommodation, excellent food and a warm, friendly welcome. All bedrooms are en-suite and individually furnished with TV, telephone, tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryer and have views of the surrounding countryside or the picturesque courtyard. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant where dinner will be served each evening. Complimentary car parking is available at the hotel.
Barnsdale Lodge Website
Review by Anonymous who travelled 28-July-2019
Review by Arnold who travelled 04-April-2019
I have been in the company of Michael Escolme on a number of tours and continues to prove himself a very competant tour manager. - It was my tour with Nicholas Merchant, I was impressed with his knowledge of the arts and architecture, he is also an extremely pleasant person to be on tour with and I am looking forward to September, when I will be in his company once again.
Review by Wallburton who travelled 04-April-2019
Given the way it was promoted I would have liked more of David Starkey. We are members of National Trust and Historic Houses and were in effect double-paying for entry to the various houses. I would like to see a loyalty scheme introduced to encourage us to book again. Hotel staff were excellent and Michael was very helpful in his role as back-up to Nicholas.
Review by Fowle who travelled 04-April-2019
A very enjoyable experience. Nicholas Merchant was a marvellous leader-knowledgeable and amusing!
Review by Borthwick who travelled 04-April-2019
Review by Bellak who travelled 04-April-2019
We were disappointed with our room in the hotel, the furniture was a throw back to the 1960's and there wasn't anywhere suitable place to hang shirts or store jumpers . We did inquire for an upgrade re the room but none were available. The hotel itself, the food and common areas were very satisfactory.
Review by Turner who travelled 04-April-2019
Nicholas Marchant v.good but many of the house guides were poor (I don't want to know about the second cousin twice removed of the fourth Earl's sister). Although the tour marked 4 boots, too many clients were infirm, slowing others. Probably too early in the year to run this tour at its best.
Review by Oldroyd who travelled 04-April-2019
Nick Merchant was very entertaining
Review by Anonymous who travelled 04-April-2019
An excellently run tour , efficiently marshalled by |Michael Escombe, and led and lectured by Nicholas Merchant. Barnsdale Lodge food and accomodation first-rate. Our only comment, not necessarily shared by all, was that by Belton House we were somewhat "over-cultured" _ a little footsore and not wholly receptive to a lot of dark rooms and very many portraits!
Review by Tawney who travelled 04-April-2019
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