South of England
Day 1 – Arrival Pick up from Gatwick airport and short transfer to our hotel. We will be staying at a local hotel with access to shops and restaurants where each double/triple room has a private bathroom, tea and coffee-making facilities, WI-Fi and TV. Briefing and group dinner.
Day 2 – Weald and Downland Open-Air Museum. Today we will learn about how “normal folk” lived in England over the centuries to better comprehend how people behaved, what they wore, what they ate and what life was like for the normal every day person in rural England. To do this we shall visit The Weald and Downland Open-air Museum near Chichester. Here we will see dozens of different houses, farms and workshops all meticulously restored and brought to life by people in costumes. We will be able to taste Tudor bread and ale and see first-hand how blacksmiths and other craftsmen went about their daily jobs in a beautiful setting in the middle of the West Sussex countryside.
Day 3 – Petworth House. Today’s visit focuses on Petworth House built in 1688. Yesterday we saw what life was like for farmers and country people in England but today we will see how people lived in the upper classes of society. Not only is this house full of works of art by artists such as Rembrandt and Van Dyck but it also houses one of the earliest terrestrial globes (1592) and one of Chaucer’s earliest copies of “The Canterbury Tales”. The highlight of the tour though is to see how servants in 18th century England lived. We will in fact learn what it would have been like to work here and we will visit the servants’ quarters and the kitchens and compare them to how the family “upstairs” lived. After lunch we will have time to explore the magnificent landscaped gardens designed by Capability Brown.
Day 4 – Brighton. No visit to southern England would be complete without a visit to Brighton. Known as “London by the Sea”, Brighton was made famous by The Prince Regent, later to become George IV. This fashion-loving prince, built one of the most intriguing palaces in Europe – The Royal Pavilion. This palace is very exotic something you might find in India and not the UK. After lunch we will have time to do some shopping in “The Lanes” or enjoy the Pier with its funfair ,the sea and the beach before heading back to the hotel.
Day 5 – Battle. Today we travel through Kent, “The Garden of England” and on to the town of Battle, where The Battle of Hastings took place in 1066. It was here that England’s last invasion took place when William of Normandy (the Conqueror) defeated King Harold and killed him with an arrow in the eye. William then founded an abbey here as a penance for all the bloodshed. We will learn how battles were fought and how monks lived in the interactive, hands-on exhibition. In the afternoon we will either visit The Seven Sisters, seven white cliffs overlooking the English Channel with some of the most spectacular views in southern England or Rudyard Kipling’s House. Although maybe not very well known abroad today, Kipling was Britain’s most popular and best paid writer in 1900 and almost everyone has heard of Mowgli and his animal friends in Kipling’s most famous novel, “The Jungle Book” made famous by Walt Disney’s film.
Day 6 – Port Lympne Gorilla Reserve. This nature reserve is one of England’s finest. Home to 650 animals and 50 different species, Port Lympne is a very important centre for the safeguard of gorillas in Africa. Here we can learn first-hand about the plight of western lowland gorillas in the world and what is being done to protect them and watch a family of them at play. After lunch we will board a safari vehicle and go on a game drive where we will see all sorts of African and Asian Wildlife including giraffes, zebras and rhinos.
Day 7– Dover Castle. Today’s visit focuses on English history and in particular on Dover and its majestic castle known as “the Key to England”. The biggest in England, Dover Castle, with its strategic position overlooking the White Cliffs of Dover and the English Channel, has always played a vital part in the defence of the kingdom. We will learn about its importance both in medieval times and in the 20th century when it was used during both World War I and II. The headquarters of the 1940 Operation Dynamo, featured in a film starring Harry Styles, “Dunkirk”, were based here and we will visit the secret wartime tunnels and underground hospital which run deep beneath the castle. We will also explore the medieval palace and enjoy the interactive, hands-on display brought to life by live interpreters.
Day 8 – Canterbury. Today we will visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Cathedral City of Canterbury. Canterbury was founded by Julius Caesar and later became a pilgrimage site following the murder of Thomas Beckett. In medieval times pilgrims journeyed here to pay homage to the saint and, to pass the time, would tell each other stories. It is on these tales that Chaucer’s book is based. We will visit an interactive experience on The Canterbury Tales and enjoy an afternoon in this vibrant town so full of young people, shops, canals and eclectic attractions
Day 9 – Chatham Dockyards. Today we will visit Chatham Historical Dockyard to learn how important the sea, the navy and trade were for the British Empire and how Britain depended on the sea to defend itself against would-be invaders over the ages. In this open-air museum, we will visit 3 vessels: a cold war submarine, a World War Two warship and a Victorian ship and discover what life was like for the crews. A highlight of the tour is the Victorian Ropery where we will see first-hand how important rope was in times gone by in a place which has been making it for 400 years.
Day 10 – Charles Darwin. Today’s visit focuses on Charles Darwin who set sail in 1831 to carry out his naturalistic observations around the world. He returned in 1836 but it took him many years of further experiments to elaborate his Theory of Evolution and write his book, which had a great impact on Victorian England and on the scientific and religious world in general. Today we will visit Down House where he lived and worked to learn more about the man, his theories, his scientific work and the controversy that it provoked. The afternoon will be dedicated to a bit of “retail therapy” in one of Europe’s biggest shopping malls, Bluewater Shopping Mall in Kent. With more than 300 shops, 40 restaurants, a cinema and nature trail, Bluewater has something for everyone to enjoy.
Day 11 – Chartwell & Knole House. Today we will start off with a visit to Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s home. We will learn that, as well as being a remarkable statesman, he was also a Nobel prize winning writer and painter and we will have lunch in the café here. After lunch we will go to Knole House, one of England’s largest houses. It was built in 1456 and has since seen many monarchs including Henry VIII. It is a wonderful example of Elizabethan England and is known as a calendar house: 365 rooms, 52 staircases 12 entrances and 7 courtyards. We will have time to relax in the 1000 acres of beautiful land and watch the wild deer that live here. We will then return to the hotel and prepare for our farewell dinner.
Day 12 – Departure. Today is departure day. Transfer to Gatwick Airport.