Oxford and the Cotswolds


Immerse yourself in quintessential England as you take in the history, traditions, and landscape of one of England's most beloved regions. From rolling green hillsides to the inviting quads of historic colleges to imposing castles, experience authentic English charm on this nine-day tour.

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 Highclere Castle, the set for <i>Downton Abbey</i>. Credit: Highclere Enterprises  Chipping Camden, England  A typical village in the Cotswolds  Church in the Cotswold village of Bampton. Credit: Visit Oxfordshire  Blenheim Palace fountains, England  Oxford's All Souls College  Jane Austen's House, Chawton, England
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Rolling green hillsides dotted with pastures and grazing sheep, charming villages of limestone buildings, robed scholars dashing through the quads of Oxford—these are the images of England’s Cotswolds. Join us to explore the history, traditions, and landscape of one of England’s most quintessential regions.

Settle into the Cotswold countryside and discover charming villages such as Burford, Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden, and Bampton. Learn about the traditions of English country houses at Hampshire’s Highclere Castle, a Victorian country house and garden known as the setting for Downton Abbey. At Blenheim Palace, take a special tour of Britain’s grandest private residence and a World Heritage site. Here, enjoy a private meeting with Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill, who offers a unique perspective on the life of his cousin Sir Winston Churchill and his childhood home, followed by a private luncheon. Move to the university town of Oxford, where a local expert leads a specially designed walking tour of the town and the historic colleges and inviting quads. You’ll also spend a day visiting Winchester and Chawton, sites associated with Jane Austen and her literary works. Limited to 44 participants. Optional extensions to Cambridge and Marlow are also offered.

Itinerary

Days 1-2 — U.S., London, England, Minster Lovell

Depart U.S. and arrive in London. Transfer to one of the prettiest of the Oxfordshire villages, Minster Lovell lies on the sleepy River Windrush in an idyllic country setting with thatched stone cottages arranged along the quiet lanes. Set in the heart of Oxfordshire the tiny village gives a sense of timeless calm and is distinguished by the 15th-century church of St. Kenelm and the romantic ruined manor house dating from 1435. Since the 12th century, the lands of the manor house belonged to the Lovell family, who fought in the Wars of the Roses and with Richard III at the battle of Bosworth, after which Francis Lovell was declared guilty of treason and his lands reverted to the Crown.

Upon arrival, check into the quaint Old Swan & Minster Mill boutique hotel. Join your traveling companions for a Welcome Reception this evening. (R)

Day 3 — Cotswold Villages

Visit the picturesque Cotswold villages, which embrace the time-honored traditions of the English countryside.

Stow-on-the-Wold is a delightful market town along the ancient Roman Fosse Way, the first great Roman road in Britain. This picturesque Cotswold town was designed around its market square during the height of the English wool industry with narrow-walled avenues, called tunes, to funnel up to 20,000 sheep to the market.

Chipping Campden is a prosperous medieval village with a picturesque 15th-century Gothic parish church, 17th-century almshouses and market hall, and wool-tycoon manors. 

Simply beautiful, Broadway was first settled by the Romans and is often referred to as the “jewel of the Cotswolds.” The home of William Morris, its main road is lined with honey-colored limestone townhouses dating back to the 16th century.

In Burford, the great Church of St. John the Baptist is a medley of architectural styles providing a flourish to the village’s main passage down to the River Windrush. This evening in the hotel, join residents of the Cotswolds for dinner and a discussion on daily life during the exclusive Town & Country Forum. (B) 

Day 4 — Bampton, Bibury, Grencester (Cotswold Villages)

The acclaimed international television series Downton Abbey, seen on PBS’s Masterpiece, is filmed in Bampton, one of the oldest towns in England. First established during the Iron Age, with later markings as the site of an extensive unwalled Roman settlement, picturesque Bampton is also mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. (B,D)

Day 5 — Highclere Castle, Oxford

Visit the spectacular, Victorian Highclere Castle, well known for its role as the manor in the acclaimed international television series, Downton Abbey, airing on PBS’s Masterpiece. Set amidst 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland, the television series only captures a fraction of this impressive, Edwardian-period property. Discover the true history behind this newly iconized structure, where the Carnarvon family has lived since 1679, when they built upon the foundation of a medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for 800 years.

Visit Sir Winston Churchill’s grave in Bladon and then continue to legendary Oxford and check into a deluxe hotel. (B)

Day 6 — Oxford

Affectionately named the “city of dreaming spires” by adoring poets, Britain’s oldest university counts Percy Bysshe Shelley, Margaret Thatcher and Sir Thomas More among its illustrious alumni. Steeped in eight centuries of history and erudition, Oxford still nurtures great scholars while blending its ancient traditions with cutting-edge research and instruction provided by many of the world’s brightest minds. Here, Formal Hall, a dining hall tradition requiring formal attire or college gowns, is still celebrated with a three-course meal and waiter service. Walk in the magnificent cobblestoned squares, medieval alleyways and Renaissance quadrangles fill the grounds of the oldest university in the English-speaking world on the morning tour.

Visit the Ashmolean Museum and enjoy a private lecture describing student life at Oxford. (B)

Day 7 — Blenheim Palace, Oxford

Following breakfast, check out of the hotel and depart for Oxford with an excursion to Blenheim Palace en route. This monumental baroque fantasy is one of the country’s greatest stately homes, designed between 1705 and 1722 with funds given to Sir John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, by a grateful Queen Anne, after his victory at the battle of Blenheim. Its 2,200-acre parkland and gardens were designed by the legendary English landscape architect “Capability” Brown. Meet your host, Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill, who will give you a personal introduction to his family home, also the renowned birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site and the current Duke of Marlborough’s home—it is the largest private residence in England, with an extraordinary labyrinth of opulent hallways and chambers.

Day 8 — Oxford

Step into the life of one of England’s most important novelists on this excursion to experience Jane Austen’s England. Austen belonged to the transition from the 18th century’s emphasis on sense, reason and improvement to the 19th century’s emphasis on sensibility and romantic excitement. On this full-day excursion, see the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton, where she spent the last eight years of her life, and the cathedral in Winchester, where she is buried. Each site offers glimpses of the iconic writer’s life and the times she captured in her writings. 

Tonight, enjoy a specially arranged Farewell Dinner in one of Oxford’s colleges. (B,D)

Day 9 — Oxford, London, U.S.

Transfer to Canterbury for the Post-Program Option or to London for your return flight home. 

Pre- and Post-Program Options are available at additional cost. Details will be included with your reservation confirmation. 

All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.