Manchester, Lyme. The tour leaves Manchester Piccadilly Railway Station at 2.00pm. Located in the Peak District and the largest country house in Cheshire, Lyme Park is fundamentally Elizabethan but Classical grandeur was added in the 1720s by Giacomo Leoni in a style between Baroque and Palladian. Continue to Nantwich for the first of two nights.
Little Moreton Hall, Capesthorne Hall. Half-timbered and moated, and so enchantingly pretty as to strain credibility, Little Moreton Hall was built in stages over a hundred years from the beginning of the 16th century. It has hardly been touched since and sits in a recreation of an Elizabethan garden. Capesthorne Hall keeps to the theme of the tour in being Jacobean, but in a historicist revival of the style, created by the architects Blore in the 1830s and Salvin in the 1860s.
Speke Hall, Browsholme Hall. Speke ranks with Moreton as one of the best wood-framed Tudor mansions in the country, and again is little altered. The Parker family has lived at Browsholme Hall in Ribble Valley since 1507, when the house was begun. A wing was added during the Regency. A remarkable collection of works of art and artefacts has been accumulated over fourteen generations. Overnight Mitton Hall.
Stonyhurst, Hoghton Tower. Stonyhurst College is a Jesuit school which was founded in 1593 and moved 200 years later into the present site, a country house built largely in the 17th century. There are important collections. On a hilltop site with magnificent Lancashire countryside all round, Hoghton Tower dates to the 12th century but was largely rebuilt in 1565 while retaining the appearance of a medieval fortress. First of two nights in Ambleside.
Sizergh Castle, Levens Hall. Sizergh is a Tudor house incorporating a medieval tower and additions from the 17th century, still lived in by the Strickland family though recently ceded to the National Trust. There are fine paintings, outstanding original panelling and gardens. Levens Hall is an exceptionally attractive house which was first occupied in 1350 though most is Elizabethan. The gardens have a wonderful display of topiary. The Bagot family has lived here for over 400 years.
Dalemain, Carlisle. Dalemain is a quintessentially Cumbrian country house. A classic Georgian facade belies its origins as a 12th-century defensive pele tower and a later medieval manor house. The house is privately owned and has been lived in by the same family for 11 generations. The coach continues to Carlisle train station where the tour ends by 2.45pm.
Some appointments cannot be confirmed until January 2019.
Gail BentExpert on British architectural history and historic interiors and an interior designer and artist. She studied at Toronto and Leeds Universities and Edinburgh College of Art and has taught at the University of Leeds, Christ Church, Oxford, York and Nottingham. She lectures for The Art Fund, The National Trust and NADFAS, and has made appearances on BBC television as an expert in both country houses and architectural history.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,180. Single occupancy: £2,480.
travel by private coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts; 1 lunch and 5 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa: 4-star country house hotel in the Cheshire countryside. Our rooms are in the Old Hall which retains some period charm. Mitton Hall: a small 4-star country house hotel in the Ribble Valley countryside. Rooms vary widely in size and design. Waterhead, Ambleside: 4-star modern, comfortable hotel on the shore of Lake Windermere. Single rooms are doubles for sole use throughout.
The tour involves a lot of walking around historical houses and gardens. Uneven ground, irregular paving, steps and hills are standard. A good level of fitness is necessary. It should not be attempted by anyone who has difficulty with everyday walking and stair-climbing. There are two hotel changes and some days involve a lot of driving – average distance by coach per day: 66 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.