Here are a few of our favourite day tours, but as this is your holiday you may have lots of other ideas of where you would like to go. You can do as much or as little as you like but I would suggest not trying to do too much – you want to go home rested not exhausted!
One of the three official residences of the Queen, the Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world (over 900 years). The Castle covers an area of about 5 hectares (13 acres) and contains:-
• Magnificent State Apartments furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection
• St George's Chapel (one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and the burial place of 10 monarchs)
• Queen Mary's Dolls House, a masterpiece in miniature
• The Drawings Gallery featuring an exhibition, which changes regularly.
Windsor old town
The Castle is located right in the centre of the town, so we usually have a bit of an explore in the town. The oldest part of the town is located immediately opposite Henry VIII Gate (the exit of the Castle). There are several cobbled streets here, dating from the 17th century.
After a look round the town and some lunch we can visit Savill Garden
which is within Windsor Great Park. George V and Queen Mary originally gave a plot of scrub and marshy ground to Eric Savill, Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park in 1932. It was originally named The Bog Garden until 1951 when George VI asked that it be renamed in honour of Eric Savill, who was later knighted in 1955. The garden is now considered one of the finest woodland gardens anywhere in the world. The Valley Gardens have been described as the hidden jewel in the Great Park, the most famous being the Punch Bowl, a natural amphitheatre of multicoloured azaleas. An inspiring garden, well worth a visit.
Windsor Castle and Savill Garden
Snowshill Manor is located in one of the most charming of all the Cotswold villages — a photographer's paradise. The house has a chequered history from as far back as 821 AD, and is now an incredible collector's house with a lovely garden. In 1919 an eccentric architect, Charles Wade, bought the house, restored it, and filled it with some of the most fascinating collections imaginable. His passion for craftsmanship, colour and design began when he was just 7 years old and the collecting fever never stopped. His motto was ‘let nothing perish’, and his life was dedicated to finding, restoring and enjoying objects of beauty, both everyday and extraordinary. The house is full of these amazing artefacts. He stated "a garden is an extension of a house, a series of outdoor rooms. The plan of the garden is more important than the flowers in it ... to use the effects of light and shade, to use steps to change levels, to have terraces, still and running water, and statues in the right place." In 1951 Charles Wade married a lady who wasn't interested in sharing a house crammed with treasures, so he gave it all to the National Trust. He must have got the love bug in a big way to give up his precious house — or perhaps he became tired of dusting!
Snowshill Lavender Farm
Lavender was first planted here in 2000 in fields previously used to grow wheat and barley. The lavender loves the free draining limestone soils 1,000 feet above sea level giving the best growing conditions for the highest quality English Lavender Essential Oils. If you close your eyes you could be in Provence.
•You can walk the fields when the Lavender is in full bloom.
•See the harvest and Distillation when it takes place (usually end of July)
•The Tea Room serves light lunches, cream teas and cakes. Try their lavender shortbread, its yummy.
•Cotswold Lavender also have a Gift Shop selling a whole range of products plus much, much more.
A unique Capability Brown Folly Tower open to visitors wanting to experience great English heritage in an inspiring location. Graphic displays on three floors, roof viewing platform and Tower Shop are a must for Cotswold visits
Broadway Tower is one of England's outstanding viewpoints and at 1024 feet (312m) above sea level, it is the second highest point on the Cotswold escarpment. Unrivalled views survey an expanse of a 62 mile radius and as many as 16 Counties.
Close to Broadway Tower is Broadway village which nestles at the foot of Fish Hill (where apparently monks used to store fish and the 18 century ‘Fish Inn’ once stood. It is often called the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’ because of its sheer beauty and magnificence. It’s a lovely village with a majestic main street lined with a delightful mix of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian buildings
North Cotswold Tour – Snowhill Manor, Snowshill Lavendar farm, Broadway Tower and the village of Broadway
Stratford upon Avon
Why not visit the RSC and see a play in Stratford one afternoon?. We could visit Anne Hathaway’s house on the way, then arrive in time for the matinee performance. Then after the performance there will be time to see Shakespeare’s birthplace or other Shakespearean sights in the town.
Close to Home
There are three fascinating National Trust Properties only a couple of miles from Hope Cottage.
Nuffield Place. The closest is Nuffield Place, the home of William Morris who designed the first Morris Motor cars. A very interesting character, although he was the wealthiest man in Britain at the time, he and his wife lived very modestly and the house reflects this and is a real snapshot of life in thirties Britain.
Greys Court - A intimate family home and delightful gardens set in the rolling hills of the Chilterns.
This picturesque 16th-century mansion and tranquil gardens were home to the Brunner family until recent years. The house exudes a welcoming atmosphere with a well-stocked kitchen and homely living rooms. The series of walled gardens is a colourful patchwork of interest set amid medieval ruins. If you are visiting in June when the Wisteria is in full bloom you are in for a treat, the colour and smell are breathtaking.
Other buildings from earlier eras include the Great Tower from the 12th century and a rare Tudor donkey wheel, in use until the early 20th century.
Basildon Park. - An 18th-century house, a 1950s home - This is a story of grandeur created, dissolved and resurrected - not once, but twice. Basildon Park is an impressive Georgian mansion, surrounded by glorious parkland, which was lovingly rescued from ruin by Lord and Lady Iliffe in the mid 1950s. The house you see today is a re-creation and restoration of the 18th-century mansion. They restored the elegant interior and scoured the country salvaging 18th-century architectural fixtures and fittings. They filled their comfortable new home with fine paintings, fabrics and furniture, which can still be enjoyed by visitors today.
It is such a good example of the period that a few years ago the house became Netherfield House in the filming of the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. More recently Downton Abbey has also been filmed here.
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England, situated on a bend of the River Avon. Warwick castle is Britain's ultimate Castle, where you'll be surrounded by jaw-dropping history, magic, myth and adventure. Warwick is just over an hour’s drive and we will pass through some lovely Cotswold villages en route and remember if at any point you want to stop to take photos, have a snack, or just admire a view we can stop for as long as you like.
The views from the castle are stunning and the castle is right in the centre of town so when you have finished in the castle you can visit the Lord Leycester Hospital with its fine mediaeval timber framed buildings, the military museums and/or the Collegiate Church of St Mary, famous for its Beauchamp Chapel.
Stonehenge, Avebury and Salisbury Cathedral
For an unforgettable day out, visit the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. Located near Salisbury in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, it is a highlight of the South West.
The true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation has been lost in the mists of time. Was Stonehenge a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar? How did our ancestors manage to carry the mighty stones from so far away and then, using only the most primitive of tools, build this amazing structure? Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress.
Avebury (National Trust)
World-famous stone circle and on-site museum at the heart of a prehistoric landscape In the 1930s, the pretty village of Avebury, partially encompassed by the stone circle of this World Heritage Site, was witness to the excavations of archaeologist Alexander Keiller. Keiller opened themuseum here to display his findings in 1938 in the old stable building of Avebury Manor where he lived.
In re-erecting many of the stones, Keiller uncovered the true wonder of one of the most important megalithic monuments in Europe. You can see his fascinating finds on display in the museum, still housed in the stables but now also in the 17th-century threshing barn, where interactive displays and activities for children bring the landscape to life.
Then on to Salisbury cathedral, an awe inspiring building, where we might be lucky enough to hear a choir practicing (we often are) and we can look at the original copy of the Magna Carta.
Mottisfont Garden and Winchester Cathedral
A romantic house and garden set in beautiful riverside gardens. Ancient trees, bubbling brooks and rolling lawns frame this lovely old house. Crafted from a medieval priory, it is full of surprises, with art that intrigues and delights. Come back throughout the year to see different exhibitions in the gallery and the latest installations by our artists in residence. Carpets of spring bulbs, rich autumn leaves and a colourful winter garden make Mottisfont a feast for the senses all year round. However it is for roses that it is most famous and if you happen to visit in June and July when the roses are in full bloom you are in for a treat, they are stunning.
Apart from the beauty of the building there are several interesting things to see in the Cathedral. Step down into the crypt and you’ll find Antony Gormley’s famous sculpture Sound II. This mysterious life-size statue of a man contemplating the water held in his cupped hands is the work of the celebrated British sculptor Antony Gormley. It was fashioned from lead out of a plaster cast of the artist’s own body, and is in the Cathedral crypt, which floods during rainy months.
You could also climb up to the magnificent bell chamber, see the panoramic views from the top of the tower and walk through the great nave roof.
Also at the cathedral is the famous Winchester Bible, this precious 800 year-old manuscript is the largest and perhaps the finest of all 12th century English Bibles. You can read the ledgerstone at the grave of Jane Austen, the great English novelist who lived and wrote in Hampshire. The Cathedral is surrounded by beautiful green spaces. The historic Inner Close is a lovely space to sit and relax
North Cotswold garden tour – incorporating Hidcote and Kiftsgate gardens and Chipping Campden
If you enjoy gardens this tour day is a must – two of the loveliest gardens in the area (in my view) on one day. I guarantee you will be inspired. We also can have a look around Chipping Campden today, which is one of the prettiest Cotswold towns.
Hidcote - National trust
Hidcote is an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds, a stone’s throw from Stratford-upon-Avon. Created by the talented American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston its colourful and intricately designed outdoor ‘rooms’ are always full of surprises. It’s a must-see if you’re on holiday in the Cotswolds.
Kiftsgate, is situated right opposite Hidcote and was created by three generations of women gardeners over almost a century, It is now a world renowned garden and definitely one of my favourites.
Waddesdon Manor is a National Trust Property which is an amazing building created 130 years ago, in the style of Versailles, by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild as a place to delight and surprise his friends. It’s one of the best houses to look around as you get to see inside lots of rooms, which appear very ‘lived in’ and give a real feel of how it would be to be part of the ‘Rothschild set’. The grounds are also extensive and very well designed, including an Aviary and the Stables. All in all Waddesdon Manor offers a great day out.
If there is time it is possible to drive back home via Turville, this village was the principal location for the popular British television series, the Vicar of Dibley and also the windmill in Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang can be seen here. You too can stand in Geraldine’s pulpit!!