Classic England Cruise including Downton Abbey Hampton Court to Henley on Thames
February 2, 2017
By popular demand, we are delighted to announce that we have added a further 4 cruises on sale in 2017 on board Magna Carta which include a visit to Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed. The visit to Highclere replaces our usual advertised visit to Dorney Court.
The departures which currently have availability and now include Highclere Castle are:
Sunday, Day 1 Hampton Court Palace
Guests are met at the Stafford Hotel in Central London for afternoon English Cream Tea, before being transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the Magna Carta. Champagne reception and welcome by the Captain and crew. Dinner on board.
Monday, Day 2 Hampton Court Palace to Runnymede
This morning we explore the magnificent Hampton Court Palace. We tour Henry VIII’s apartments and the Royal Chapel, feel the chill in the haunted gallery and wonder at the Tudor kitchens. Outside, the gardens are breath-taking with The Great Vine, the oldest in the country still producing grapes and the famous maze. After lunch, we cruise through Molesey Lock and moor at Runnymede. Dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 Runnymede to Windsor
After breakfast, we have the option to use the spa facilities of the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel. Then we cruise to Windsor, past the Magna Carta Memorial and Magna Carta Island, where in 1215, King John was forced to meet the powerful barons and seal the historic document. Our afternoon excursion is to Windsor Castle. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066 and a royal home for over 900 years by the Royal Family, this is the largest inhabited castle in the world. We explore the State Apartments, see Queen Mary’s Dolls House, St George’s Chapel and enjoy the far-reaching views. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 Windsor to Cookham
This morning, we cruise upstream past the fabulous waterside houses of Bray and through the spectacular Cliveden Reach to moor en route at Cliveden House itself. Once home to the Astor family, it has amazing gardens and was, of course, the scene of much political scandal and intrigue. Late afternoon cruise to Cookham. Dinner on board.
Thursday, Day 5 Cookham to Hurley
After breakfast we drive to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), one of England’s most beautiful Victorian castles set amidst 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland. The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and the current castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which in turn was built on the foundations of the medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years. A longstanding friend of the Carnarvon family, Julian Fellowes had Highclere Castle in mind as he wrote “Downton Abbey”. He often commented he wanted a house which spectacularly testified to the confidence and soaring optimism of the Edwardian period. After lunch we visit the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham and take a walk around the village he once described as ‘Heaven on Earth’, before cruising through Marlow to Hurley. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 Hurley to Henley-on-Thames and Oxford
This morning we tour Peter Freebody’s boatyard nearby and watch in wonder as the traditional craftsmen at work, build and restore classic wooden craft. We have time to explore the ancient village, including Ye Olde Bell, reputed to be the oldest inn in the country, before returning to the barge and cruising through fabulous countryside to our final mooring along the famous Henley Regatta Rowing Course. Then, an earlier lunch, followed by a drive to Oxford for a fascinating tour of Christ Church, Oxford’s grandest college, founded by Cardinal Wolsey and then again by King Henry VIII. The magnificent surroundings were also where Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Saturday, Day 7 Henley-on-Thames to London
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Central London.