In the Footsteps of the Tudor Monarchs
Uncover the intriguing history of the House of Tudor, taking in the royal palaces, castles and cathedrals on a journey through the English Renaissance.
In London, explore the renowned maze of Hampton Court Palace, wander through the great halls of Syon House and experience the wonder-filled gardens of Hatfield House tracing the footsteps of Henry VIII’s children.
Then, visit the vibrant stained-glass windows of Leicester Cathedral dedicated to Richard III where his tomb now lies after his remains were unearthed in 2013. Explore the magnificent ruins of Kenilworth Castle and marvel at the impeccably groomed Sudeley Castle in the heart of the Cotswolds, once home to Henry VIII’s wife Catherine Parr. Marvel at the unrivalled staterooms in Queen Elizabeth II’s Windsor Castle, home to priceless historical portraits and art.
Finally, travel across the Weald of Kent to Penshurst Place, dating from the 14th century, and to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and Eltham Palace, the childhood home of Henry VIII.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand in the evening on suggested Qatar Airways flights to London via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in London in the morning on suggested flights and make your own way to the hotel in south west London. In the early afternoon, join your tour leader Joyce Morgan and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing at the hotel.
Then, travel to Syon House and embark on a private guided tour of the Duke of Northumberland’s London residence and its richly decorated staterooms. Explore the Edwardian-style stateroom where the young Princess Victoria stayed with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, as she was being prepared for her future role as Queen.
Located on the River Thames, the foundations of Syon House were laid by Henry V in 1415 as the site of the medieval Bridgettine Abbey. It was here in the Long Gallery where the shortest reigning monarch in Britain, young Lady Jane Grey, was proclaimed Queen in 1553. Since then, Syon House has been an important part of British history with many profound changes over the centuries. The building was substantially remodelled by architect Robert Adam in the 1750s and features some of his finest interior rooms.
Return to London and enjoy a special welcome dinner.
Start the day with an exclusive private before-hours guided tour of Hampton Court Palace located on the River Thames. The original Tudor palace was begun by Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century and later became the home of Henry VIII and each of his six wives. King Henry VIII demonstrated his magnificence and power here through lavish banquets, extravagant court life and fabulously expensive art. It is the only palace out of 60 built or confiscated by Henry VIII that still stands.
Visit the extensive grounds of the palace comprising of the famous Maze and the Great Vine, Great Hall, Kitchens, Chapel Royal, the Tudor Tennis Court, the north cloisters and the wine cellar.
Return to the hotel in the mid-afternoon. The rest of the day and evening is at leisure to explore London or Bushey Park at your own pace.
Begin the morning with a visit of Hatfield House and enjoy a private guided tour of the New House. Hatfield House, located in Hertfordshire, was where Henry VIII’s three children grew up (King Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I). It later became the home of the Cecil family for over 400 years.
Explore the “New House”, built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, and its many great rooms, which hold the famous portraits of Elizabeth (the Ermine and the Rainbow). Visit the extensive and beautiful gardens used as the backdrop for many period dramas such as the film Elizabeth: The Golden Years and The Favourite.
After lunch, visit the Old Palace and Great Hall, where Princess Elizabeth held her first Privy Council meeting as Queen in 1558. Conclude the day with a visit to the park where Elizabeth I was told by a messenger she was Queen of England.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy the evening at leisure.
Check out of the hotel and travel north to Buckden Towers in Cambridgeshire for a private tour of the red-brick Tudor episcopal palace where Catherine of Aragon spent her days in exile from the court in London, including a visit of her garden. Her memorial garden is set out as it may have been in her day. The Towers date back to 1425, built by the Bishop of Lincoln as a strategic stopping point halfway between London and Lincoln.
After lunch, visit Peterborough Cathedral, where Catherine was buried as the Dowager Princess of Wales, cast aside by Henry VIII for being unable to provide the Tudor dynasty with a male heir. Enjoy a guided tour of the Norman cathedral, dating from 1118, and one of the only five Abbey Churches that survived the Dissolution.
Continue to Stamford and check in to the oldest hotel in the country, The George Stamford, first used by the pilgrims in the year 947.
Begin the day by visiting the Richard III Visitor Centre and Leicester Cathedral and learn more about the last Plantagenet King of England and the House of York, the War of the Roses and the forensic discovery of Richard’s remains. He is known as ‘the King under the car park’, as he was found under a council cark park in Leicester in 2013.
After lunch, enjoy a private guided walking tour of Bosworth Battlefield and the site where Richard III died. His defeat at Bosworth Field marked the end of the Middle Ages in England, and the birth of the Tudor century beginning on 22 August 1485.
Then, continue to Warwickshire to check in to the hotel, Wroxall Abbey, dating back to the 12th century. Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
In the morning, visit Kenilworth Castle, the largest ruined castle in the country, dating from the 1100s. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, built a new wing to impress Elizabeth I so she would marry him, but to no avail.
It was here that Henry V in March 1415 received a present of a chest of tennis balls from the Dauphin of France, which led to the Battle of Agincourt in October during the Hundred Years War. Henry’s army of 7,500 archers, despite being greatly outnumbered by 22,000 French knights, claimed a decisive victory for England.
Enjoy time at leisure to explore the city of Warwick. See Lord Leyster Hospital (a home for the Queen’s elderly retired soldiers), still used as such today. Explore St Mary’s Church (where Robert Dudley is buried with his second wife) or visit Warwick Castle, originally built in wood by William the Conqueror in 1068 and rebuilt in stone in the 12th century.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon, followed by dinner.
Check out of the hotel in the morning and visit Sudeley Castle, the home of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, for a private guided tour of the private wing of the castle. The Tudor royal castle lies in the heart of the Cotswolds and was once owned by Richard III, Edward IV, Henry VII and Henry VIII. It is surrounded by a breath-taking 1,200-acre estate and award-winning gardens.
Of all the Tudor castles in England, Sudeley is the only private castle to have a queen buried within the grounds. Explore the castle’s fascinating exhibitions such as the Six Wives Exhibition and view replica Tudor costumes from Dr David Starkey’s TV series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, housed in the 15th century West Wing. View rare copies of original books written by Catherine Parr, the first queen to have her own work published.
Following lunch at the castle, travel west to Oxfordshire to stay in an Elizabethan manor house country hotel at Weston-on-the-Green.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
Check out of the hotel in the morning and travel south east to visit Windsor Castle the largest inhabited castle in the world and home to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Marvel at the magnificent staterooms with priceless portraits on display by artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Holbien and Reynolds. Within the castle grounds, explore St George’s Chapel, the last resting place of many sovereigns including Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VIII and his favourite wife, Jane Seymour.
Enjoy time at leisure to explore the town of Windsor at your own pace. Continue onto the High Weald and Ashdown Forest on the Kent-Sussex Border and check in to the hotel. Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Begin the morning by travelling across the Weald of Kent to Penshurst Place, one of the oldest family-owned estates in England. Confiscated from the Duke of Buckingham by King Henry VIII, it was left for his son King Edward VI and later granted to Sir William Sidney in 1552. It has since been the home of the Sidney family for over 460 years, cared for by Viscount and Viscountess De L’Isle and their family, including a later William Sidney, who was the last Englishman to be Governor-General of Australia (1961-1965).
Enjoy an exclusive private before-hours access tour of the 14th century manor house, an important place in the Tudor story, to view a collection of staterooms built in different architectural styles with impressive portraiture, tapestries and furniture. The medieval Baron’s Hall dates from 1341 featuring an original 60-foot-high chestnut beamed ceiling and unique octagonal hearth. Penshurst Place has been the film set for many period dramas including Anne of a Thousand Days and the BBC series The Hollow Crown.
Set within the formal gardens, enjoy lunch at Penshurst Place with locally-sourced ingredients and produce grown at the estate. After, enjoy a guided tour of the Penshurst Place Gardens, majestically surrounding the house, each section with its own season and colour.
Then, travel to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII and Mother of Elizabeth I. The original medieval defensive castle with its gatehouse and walled bailey was built in 1270. Henry VIII’s love for Anne led to his renunciation of Catholicism and the creation of the Church of England.
Then, enjoy an exclusive private after-hours guided tour of Hever Castle, containing fine furniture, tapestries, antiques, collections of Tudor paintings and two prayer books inscribed and signed by Anne Boleyn.
Return to the hotel; the evening is at leisure.
Check out of the hotel in the morning and visit Eltham Palace, the boyhood home of Henry VIII and a favoured medieval royal palace since the time of Edward II in 1305. The surviving Great Hall, built by Edward IV in 1470, was the largest enclosed space in Medieval England outside Westminster Great Hall.
Today, Eltham Palace is a unique blend between a stunning Tudor royal residence and striking 1930s Art Deco-designed rooms. Parts were remodelled in the 1930s by millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld. Learn about their extravagant lifestyle and discover the state-of-the-art technology, cutting edge Swedish design and unusual features of the palace.
Enjoy time at leisure to explore the 19 acres of beautiful historic gardens with an intriguing mix of medieval features woven into the landscape. Then, depart for London and to the hotel, where the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
In the evening, enjoy a special farewell medieval banquet dinner.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Check out of the hotel and make your way to the airport for suggested afternoon flights to Australia or New Zealand on Qatar Airways via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
13 March 2020
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit the United Kingdom.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Joyce Morgan
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
London – The Mitre Hampton****
Stamford – The George Hotel of Stamford****
Wroxall – Wroxall Abbey Hotel****
Weston-on-the-Green – The Manor at Weston-on-the-Green****
Hever – Ashdown Park Hotel****
London – Thistle Hyde Park****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.