HRH The Prince of Wales has spent 30 years transforming the grounds of Highgrove into what have been acknowledged as some of the most inspired and innovative gardens in the United Kingdom. His Royal Highnesss strict adherence to organic and sustainable methods has helped create gardens which are both magical and intriguing while being environmentally sound; encouraging both plants and wildlife to thrive.
Led by one of His Royal Highnesss knowledgeable guides, we take a fascinating private tour around the extraordinary series of gardens including The Stumpery, the stunning wildflower meadow and the impressive walled garden. Each of these is a highly personal and inspiring reflection of the interests and enthusiasms of His Royal Highness. Included in our tour, we have arranged for a 2-course lunch which will be served in The Orchard Room restaurant. There will also be free time to explore the adjacent Highgrove shop.
We also explore some of the areas most impressive country houses and historic towns.
We make our way to the Cheltenham Chase Hotel from Kent with a lunch stop in the delightful town on Henley-on-Thames.D
Highgrove House & Gardens
The garden at Highgrove embodies The Prince's environmental philosophy: that it is better to work with Nature than against it. When he bought the Highgrove estate in 1980, The Prince was adamant that it should be an entirely organic garden and farm. However, at that time there was no sign of a garden at all. The Prince laid out parts of the garden with scented plants. Wisteria, honeysuckle, jasmine, holboellia, lilies and thyme were chosen to surround the house. On the advice of Miriam Rothschild, one of the country's leading advocates of biodiversity, The Prince created an experimental wild flower meadow. His Royal Highness desperately wanted to protect our native flora and fauna which was in decline due to modern farming methods and the meadow already boasts around 32 different varieties of endangered native plants. At its westerly end, the meadow is also home to some of the National Collection of Beeches which The Prince maintains on behalf of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG). The Prince is Patron of the NCCPG, which conserves the diversity of our plant heritage through its national collections.
Every year The Prince takes on a new project to take his garden in new directions, such as his walled kitchen garden or the arboretum. The Walled Kitchen Garden helps the Highgrove estate achieve self sufficiency in fruit and vegetables. A wide variety of apples are grown from trees next to the Orchard Room, along with others gathered from the Walled Garden. Many of the apples grown in the orchard are sent to the Priory, a local retirement home, and Tetbury Hospital.
Gloucester & Cirencester
We head for the delightful historic waterfront city of Gloucester which combines such heritage as Gloucester Cathedral and the Victorian Docks, both used as settings for many films and TV series. Gloucester has a unique history from its Roman foundations and is Britain's most inland port. The city's stunning medieval cathedral famously featured in the Harry Potter films and the historic docks development, with its original Victorian warehouses, is home to museums, restaurants, arts, crafts and antique centres.
In the afternoon, we head to Cirencester, often referred to as the Capital of the Cotswolds. It was the largest town in Britain during Roman times and contains many interesting buildings spanning several centuries.
Chavenage is a wonderful Elizabethan house of mellow grey Cotswold stone and tiles which contains much of interest for the discerning visitor including stunning rooms including the wonderful Great Hall. The approach aspect of the house is virtually as it was left by Edward Stephens in 1576. Only two families have owned Chavenage; the present owners since 1891 and the Stephens family before them. A Colonel Nathaniel Stephens, MP for Gloucestershire during the Civil War was cursed for supporting Cromwell, giving rise to legends of weird happenings at Chavenage since that time.
Chavenage is also renowned as being Candleford House in the TV drama 'Lark Rise to Candleford' and has been used as the location for a number of other TV series and films, most recently in the BBC TV drama 'Poldark'. During the series, Chavenage is portrayed as the Poldark family's Cornish home Trenwith and both the interior and exterior of the Elizabethan house were used for filming.
After our visit we will head to the town of Tetbury which is proud of its 1300 years of recorded history. In the Middle Ages, Tetbury was an important market town for the Cotswolds wool trade and the town centre is still dominated by the splendid pillared Market House built in 1655. The town is known as an 'architectural gem' as many of the wool merchants houses still look as they did 300 years ago. Tetbury is well known for its wonderful range of antique shops. With Prince Charles' residence of Highgrove nearby, Tetbury offers produce from the Royal estate at the Highgrove shop but also has a wide choice of tea shops, bistros, cafes, pubs and restaurants which offer a good choice of food and drink.
We leave the hotel after breakfast to allow us to enjoy a prolonged break over lunchtime visiting the gardens of Vyne House at Sherborne St John, near Basingstoke. These attractive gardens surround the 16th Century Vyne House *, with lawns, wild gardens, herbaceous borders and a wetlands area. There is a tea-room and shop on site. After our visit we head back to Kent expecting to be back at around 5pm.
* Please note: This former Tudor mansion is undergoing a major roof project. Scaffolding has been built around the whole of the house with hoarding covering up to the first floor of the façade. However, the gardens are unaffected by the work.
B=Breakfast Included, D =Dinner Included
4 nights half board at Cheltenham Chase Hotel
Welcome tea or coffee on arrival
Highgrove Gardens private guided tour with 2-course lunch
Entrance to Chavenage House & Vyne House
Free time in Tetbury, Gloucester & Cirencester
The Cheltenham Chase Hotel is a luxurious 4 star hotel set in 15 acres of private grounds on the edge of the picturesque Cotswold Hills. The hotel is a contemporary and sophisticated haven with 122 elegant bedrooms, each equipped with hairdryer, TV and tea/coffee making facilities. Hardys Restaurant and Hunters Bar and Lounge are both spacious, open plan areas with fantastic views over the surrounding hills, and there is also a sumptuous spa area, indoor swimming pool, steam room and spa bath.
All visitors to Highgrove must bring some form of photographic identification with them - ideally a passport, driving licence or bus pass. Alternatively two utility bills will be accepted. Cameras, binoculars or any other form of recording equipment are not allowed on the Estate.
Mobile phones may not be used on the Estate. If you have one with you, please make sure it is switched off at all times and left in the coach during your visit to Highgrove. We regret Highgrove Garden Tours are not appropriate for children under the age of 12 years.
Our guided tour around the garden takes approximately 2 hours and covers two miles of garden. Visitors with walking difficulties should also be aware that some paths are unmade and there are cobblestones on the estate. We suggest suitable walking shoes and clothing as the tours continue during wet weather.
Light lunches, teas and refreshments are available in the beautiful setting of The Orchard Room. Only food purchased at Highgrove may be consumed in the Orchard Room or on the Terrace. Please be aware that there are no picnic facilities on the Estate. The Highgrove Shop is situated adjacent to The Orchard Room.
Highgrove visit subject to their operational changes.
Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.
Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.
|Ashford|| Park Street Bus Stop A, Ashford |
|Canterbury|| St George's Lane, between bus station and Fenwicks |
|Deal|| South Street, Deal |
|Dover|| Market Square, Dover |
|Faversham|| Railway Station, Faversham |
|Folkestone|| Bus Station Bay D, Folkestone |
|Hawkinge|| Haven Drive, bus stop outside Lidl, Hawkinge |
|Herne Bay|| Bus garage High Street, Herne Bay |
|Hythe North Bound|| Red Lion Square next to pub, Hythe |
|M2 Medway North Bound|| M2 Medway Services, North Bound |
|Maidstone|| Bus stop outside Vinters Road Car Park, |
Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone
|Rainham|| Bus stop next to St Margaret's Church, Rainham |
|Sandgate|| Outside Royal Norfolk Pub, Sandgate |
|Sittingbourne|| Railway Station, Sittingbourne |
|Walmer|| Thompson Bell pub, Walmer |
|Whitstable|| Bus layby outside Tesco Extra, Whitstable |
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