Jane Austen Fans: Would You Enjoy a Literary Tour of Southern England?

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 has had an awesome start for you! It’s always around this time of the year that I’m finally able to accept the cold weather and have begun to embrace it. I love a good excuse for staying inside and curling up under a throw with a good book or just watching a favorite old movie.

 

A Travel Opportunity for the Classic Literature Lover, especially the Jane Austen Fan

I’m often asked in comments and emails if I would be willing to plan a trip for/with the BNOTP readers. I’m always reluctant to do that because I know (from listening to others who’ve done it) how very time-consuming planning a group trip can be, not to mention, frustrating, as folks express interest but back out when it comes time to truly commit.

Recently, Laura, a friend and retired English College Professor, put together a very special trip to England with the help of a travel agent she trusts. The trip will be a 10-day trip from July 15-July 25, 2019, although some folks will be arriving and/or staying later to see more of the sites.

There are still a few openings, though they are filling quickly now, so I thought I’d share the trip with you in case it sounds like something you would enjoy. This trip is limited to around 20-25 participants to keep the group nice and small and there are not a lot of spaces left at this point. Please note: I’m not being compensated in any way, or receiving a discount for sharing this trip.

Update added 1-3-19: Several folks have asked if I’m going on this trip. Sorry if I didn’t make that part clear in this post. I’m definitely going, I paid my deposit weeks ago and booked my flight this past week. Kinda wishing I was staying a day or two longer since it seems several of you want to do that.

 

A few things to know:

  • You need to be able-bodied to participate because we’ll be responsible for transporting our own luggage to our room on this trip, and some of the hotels we stay in will have steps.
  • This trip is for the  lover of classic literature (especially fans of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy) and not a general tour of the most frequented sites in England, although, I am super excited a visit to Stonehenge is included in this travel adventure!
  • There will be an opportunity to attend a Shakespeare play in The Globe Theatre toward the end of the trip. Please verify this with the coordinator before booking the trip, but that’s my understanding. That has always been a bucket list item for me! 🙂

Photo from Shakespeare’s Globe.com

 

Check out the Itinerary below and if this looks like a trip you would enjoy, email me at [email protected] and I’ll forward your email on to Laura. She’ll be able to share the cost for the trip along with additional information you’ll need, then if you’re still interested, she’ll put you in touch with the agent, Hugh, who is coordinating all the details and taking deposits.

Please note: I’ll forward emails of interest to Laura in the order I receive them since the remaining openings are so limited.

This is the Itinerary for this Literary Tour of Southern England:

15 July 2019: Fly USA to London (Heathrow)

16 July, Tuesday: Arrival at the airport: Meet & Greet assistance will be provided and after loading the motorcoach, the group will depart for Kent. Some stops can be made en route, e.g. Sevenoaks and/or Rochester. Travel to Canterbury and check into the hotel. After checking in, time for a stroll in Canterbury and perhaps a visit to the famous Cathedral: also there is the opportunity to visit the Canterbury Tales visitor center. Stay Falstaff Hotel, Canterbury.

17 July, Wednesday: A visit to Goodnestone House this morning – an interior visit to the house will be requested. Then through some beautiful Kent and Sussex villages – a stop can be made in Tonbridge to see places associated with Jane Austen’s father’s family – to the coast. Visit the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, a huge extravaganza which was the home of the Prince Regent. We will plan to have dinner at Stanford’s Cottage in Worthing, where the Austen family stayed during vacations on the Sussex coast – the house is now a pizza restaurant but the exterior, and a large part of the interior are in the style of the Austen’s’ time. Stay New Steine Hotel, Brighton.

18 July, Thursday: Westwards into Hampshire, heading for the ‘county town’ Winchester, our home for the next two nights. Visit the Chawton House Library on arrival, also visit the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton village. We will also visit the little village of Steventon, near Basingstoke, to see the church where the Rev George Austen-and subsequently his son James – was the Minister. Check into the hotel for a two-night stay, dinner included at the hotel. Royal Hotel, Winchester.

19 July, Friday: A morning to explore the city, visiting the great Cathedral: see the exterior of the house in College Street (part of Winchester College) where Jane Austen spent her last days. We make a short diversion to see the exterior of Winchester Jail, where Hardy’s heroine Tess met her end. Free afternoon to relax and enjoy the attractive little city. Dinner and overnight Winchester.

20 July, Saturday: Westwards again today: visit Stonehenge, the mysterious Stone Age monument – it also has a (somewhat sinister) role in Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles. On to Dorset county and visit two of his homes, the Birthplace at Higher Bockhampton, and Max Gate, which he designed and had built in Dorchester town when he became a successful writer. Stay Duchess of Cornwall Hotel, Poundbury, Dorchester.

21 July, Sunday: A day to explore the Dorset and East Devon coast, visiting Lyme Regis – especially the Cobb, indelibly linked to Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ and to John Fowles’ ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’. Also to nearby Sidmouth, with many Regency-era houses (and also a favorite Austen vacation resort) and Colyton, where a friend of the Austen family was the vicar. Opportunity to attend morning service in Lyme, or Colyton, according to services schedule. Return to the hotel.

22 July, Monday: The countryside tour concludes today as we leave Dorset and travel northwards via Sherborne and Shepton Mallet, to Bath. On arrival in the beautiful Roman and Georgian city, a city guide will be engaged to lead a tour of places associated with the life of Jane Austen, who lived here for nearly five years; see some of the magnificent Palladian architecture. After the tour there will be time for those who wish, to visit the Roman Baths. Then on to London and check in at the hotel in Bloomsbury. We will plan to arrive in time to attend a play this evening. Stay Mercure Bloomsbury Hotel, London

23 July, Tuesday: Day at leisure for individual sightseeing, visiting, shopping and another opportunity to take in a play in the evening. Stay London.

24 July, Wednesday: Another day to enjoy the attractions of London – the Bloomsbury is well located for access to several literary museums and ‘shrines’, such as Dickens, Virginia Woolf and the writers of her circle. Stay London

25 July, Thursday: Transfer to the airport for the return flight (optional extensions can be arranged subject to hotel availability)

Do you have travel plans for this year? Would love to hear what you have planned for 2019!

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Comments

  1. I’m in the UK so don’t need to join the tour but I would love to ‘accidentally on purpose’ bump into you one day. Just to say hello. xx

  2. You’ll have a great time! If you’re in Brighton, head to the Lanes for interesting shopping including antiques. I’ll be over there from August 20 to Sept. 12. You could probably work in a day trip to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey). From Paddongton, just catch a train to Newbury.

  3. Karen Aamodt says:

    Hello! Happy New Year!

    I would love to join the group but hope to be in the middle of my kitchen remodel by that time this coming summer. I very much enjoy all the novels by Miss Austen and the movies adapted from them. The one I enjoy the most is “Emma” starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. My champion black Cocker spaniel is Casablanca’s Charming Mister Knightley; named for the character played by the very handsome Mr. Northam.

    I hope you have a wonderful time in the UK and I will be so jealous of you,

    Karen

  4. On one of your free days in London I suggest flying in the London Eye. Be sure to get tickets online to avoid long lines. We bought a combination ticket that included a Thames River cruise also with the London Eye. If you haven’t done either of these, it’s a lot of fun with fantastic photo opportunities.

    • Ohh, that looks interesting when I just Googled it. Thanks for that suggestion, Cynthia! Thanks for the tip about getting the ticket in advance, too!

  5. Regality (aka The Quing) says:

    Price? I’ve not found it common that those on a group tour have to handle their own baggage. Am I just out of the loop?

  6. I would like more details including the price. Thanks!

  7. This sounds like a lot of fun! We already have plans in place for next summer, so can’t do this, but I’m sure you will have a great time. We were in Britain in 2015 for a week and I fell in love with it. Stonehenge and Bath were two of the highlights for me (but I love old rocks and buildings!). My niece went on a literary tour similar to this while in high school and had a blast. If you have not been to London before, it would be worth it to book an extension for a few more days there. Lots to see!

  8. Shame u are going to miss Southampton where Jane lived from 1806 and 1809 .She loved it because she had a garden and disliked Bath because she did not have one.You could visit the room where she danced on her 18th birthday or walk in her footsteps as she visited Netley Abbey after crossing the Itchen Ferry or as a schoolgirl walked the streets of the Town where she nearly died from a fever.
    And only 9 miles away from Winchester where Jane lived for two weeks…..

  9. It sounds like you will have a fabulous time! London is my favorite big city and the UK my favorite country to visit; I so envy you. There is so much to see and do: historical buildings (Westminster Abbey – go early, before the crowds, and it is spine-tinglingly magical), plays, shopping, museums (Victoria and Albert is my favorite), just walking, and did I mention shopping? During your free time in London, try to get to Liberty of London. (To call it a “department store” is an understatement; check out their website or Google it.) London is so easy to get around, but I find taking the bus much more interesting than the underground. Another favorite is M&S Simply Food – they are everywhere – for prepared food that is fresh and delicious for throwing in your backpack or large purse to eat on the go; there’s so much to do I hate to spend time inside waiting for meals, etc.! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip as you prepare for it, and especially your keen observations and honest follow-ups once you get home!

  10. Be aware that Stonehenge is smaller than you think, close to a highway and now you are not allowed too close and I think they have times tickets. The countryside is pretty and the history is very interesting.

  11. Kathy Parathyras says:

    Hi Susan,

    I was wondering what you thought of your new Away carry-on suitcase after your last trip. I’ve been thinking of treating myself to one.

    • I returned the aluminum version because it was just too heavy for me to lift and place in the overhead bin by myself. A taller person or perhaps a man could handle it, but with my laptop, camera, lenses, electronics, etc… it was too heavy. If you don’t carry a laptop and other heavy stuff in it when traveling, you would probably be fine with the aluminum version. I loved the suitcase, including the charging feature. So I think I’m going to order their non-aluminum version that’s quite a bit lighter.

  12. Shirley Haggerty says:

    How much is the tour and what website for detailed info?
    Shirley

  13. Cyndi Raines says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! Would love to see Buckingham Palace too! We will be going out west to New Mexico for my godchild’s graduation and are very excited as it will be 7 years since we were there last! Where has the time gone? On the way home, we will go the northern route to see Mt. Rushmore and the badlands. Excited to see more of our beautiful United States and will be able to scratch off a few more states on my map! Lol Happy travels!

  14. Martie Noll says:

    That sounds so wonderful! Sadly those dates are when our family vacation is and can’t be changed since it involves my husband’s sibling families. Have fun and look forward to your pictures! I’ve seen some of Jane Austen’s and its wonderful!

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