clearPeter Jamieson. London private tour guide. Blue badge tourist guide for LondonclearBlue Badge Tourist Guide for London

Private guided sightseeing tours by car in London and throughout Britain

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Tours from London
Some ideas for excursions from a London base
 

Here are brief descriptions of some of the most popular tours and sight-seeing destinations from London.

Suggestions for additional visits appear in brackets after each description.
A list of the more popular combinations may be found on the fees page
Timings are the minimum recommended.

Travelling by private car allows complete flexibility, with itineraries to suit you.

Just Outside London


Windsor Castle
5 hours
Windsor CastleA castle and a palace in one. Started by William the Conqueror in the eleventh century and still the Queen's favourite official residence. You can enjoy some of the Royal Collection of art in the sumptuous State Apartments, used by the Queen and other members of the Royal family for state occasions - entertaining honoured guests. See paintings by great artists (Van Dyck, Canaletto, Rubens, Rembrandt etc.), carpets, furniture, clocks, porcelain . . . Queen Mary's Dolls' House is a fully furnished royal palace, just one twelfth normal size. An extra dimension to exquisite craftsmanship. 15th century St. George's Chapel contains the chapel of the Order of the Garter and is a burial place of Kings and Queens.
(Can be combined with Eton College, Hampton Court, Oxford, Chartwell.)


Hampton Court Palace
4 or 5 hours
Once described as "One of the most modern, sophisticated and magnificent palaces in England", Hampton Hampton Court PalaceCourt was built for Cardinal Wolsey in 1514 and taken over by Henry VIII in 1528 (he had 5 of his 6 honeymoons here!). It was at the centre of court life, politics and national history for nearly 200 years. Christopher Wren constructed new state apartments for William and Mary in the 1690s. We can visit the Tudor buildings - great hall, extensive kitchens, Haunted Gallery, Chapel Royal - and William III's State Apartments before strolling through the gardens and perhaps getting lost in the maze.
(Can be combined with Windsor Castle, Chartwell)


Longer Country Tours


The following places may be visited on their own but for the longer journeys you would normally include more than one destination.


Chartwell
5 hours
2015 is the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill, Britain's Prime Minister during the Second World War, and one of the most astonishingly many-faceted men in British history. He bought Chartwell in 1922 and transformed it into a light and airy home where he lived with his family, wrote, painted, laid bricks and entertained his guests (from Charlie Chaplin to Professor Einstein). The main rooms are as they were during the 1930s. There is a display of some of the many gifts and honours he received and an exhibition giving an insight into his life.
(Can be combined with Churchill’s War Rooms and the Churchill Museum, Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, Windsor Castle)

Winston Churchill and Chartwell


Hever Castle
5 hours
Hever Castle is a perfect example of a Tudor moated castle. It was the home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife and mother of Elizabeth I, and later given to Anne of Cleves (Henry's 4th wife). William Waldorf Astor acquired the property in 1903, restored it and made it into a cosy country home. He also built a Tudor village to house his guests and laid out the gardens. It is a testament to his impeccable taste (and considerable wealth).
(Can be combined with Chartwell)


Hever Castle


Leeds Castle
5 hours
In an idyllic setting surrounded by water, Leeds Castle has been described variously as "a happy castle" and "the Loveliest Castle in the World". It was a royal palLeeds Castleace for over three hundred years, and has impinged on the wider history of both England and America. The Anglo-American Olive Lady Baillie, who had the style, imagination and the means to complete the restoration of the castle, ensured that Leeds would be enjoyed by future generations.
There are also delightful flower gardens, an aviary and a maze in the extensive landscaped grounds.
(Can be combined with Chartwell, Hever Castle, Canterbury)


Oxford
5 hours
New College, Oxford"That sweet city with her dreaming spires". Oxford University is the oldest in the English-speaking world and is still one of the world's most successful. Some of the greatest minds have developed there and some great issues debated. The colleges, which form a large part of this ancient establishment, offer oases of academic inspiration, fellowship and tranquillity in a bustling commercial city. A walk through the town will take us by some of the main buildings and I would hope to be able to take you inside one of the colleges. Some of the recent associations with Oxford include Harry Potter and Inspector Morse.
(Can be combined with Windsor Castle, Blenheim Palace, Cotswolds, Stonehenge, Stratford upon Avon)


Blenheim Palace
5+ hours on its own but normally part of a combined full day
This huge stately home was built by John Vanburgh early in the 18th century for John Churchill the first Duke of Marlborough - a monument to a national hero. It is set in 2,700 acres of parkland and the view across the lake has been described as the finest in England. During your tour you will see family portraits by Kneller, Romney, Reynolds and Sargent. Porcelain and french furniture including rare pieces of Boule, and of course those incredible Blenheim tapestries. There is an exhibition about Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim (one of two important decision he made here). He is buried in a country churchyard nearby.
(Can be combined with Oxford, The Cotswolds or Stratford upon Avon)

Blenheim Palace


The Cotswolds
9 hours
Arlington Row, CotswoldsPicture book English countryside - green, pleasant and manicured. Rolling hills with vistas and big skies. The enclosed fields are dotted with sheep and punctuated by woodland and picturesque villages along winding country roads. From Elizabethan manor houses, cottages and pubs, to the miles of dry-stone walls, the mellow, honey-coloured Cotswolds stone prevails. You can stroll around a village or two, like Broadway or Stow-on-the-Wold and browse in the antique shops and craft shops. There are colourful gardens of which the once trend-setting Hidcote is justifiably the most famous.
(Can be combined with Oxford, Blenheim Palace, Stratford upon Avon)


Stratford upon Avon

10 hours as a combined full day
This prosperous market town is where William Shakespeare spent his formative years, where his family lived and where he is buried, in a place of honour in the parish church (the stone bears an odd inscription). We can visit the house in which he was born and the farmhouse where he went a-courting Anne Hathaway where we will hear something of the way of life in the 16th century (including how they swept their chimneys!). There are several other half-timbered buildings in the town and other properties associated with Shakespeare. There are three theatres where you can see performances by the famous Royal Shakespeare Company.
(Can be combined with Warwick Castle, The Cotswolds, Oxford)

Anne Hathaway's Cottage in the autumn


Warwick Castle

10 hours as part of a combined day
Warwick CastleWarwick Castle, once home of the powerful Earls of Warwick, has been described as the finest example of a mediaeval fortification in England. It was started as a motte and bailey castle by the Normans and rebuilt between the 13th & 15th centuries. It has ramparts and towers, a dungeon, lavish state rooms and comfortable private apartments. Entertainments include preparations for a battle in the 15th century, birds of prey, archery, a trebuchet, jousting, audio visual history, dressing-up and a castle dungeon experience (not for the faint-hearted). There is also a re-creation of a lavish weekend party in 1898
(Can be combined with Stratford upon Avon, The Cotswolds, Oxford)


Stonehenge

6 hours on its own but normally part of a combined full day
Can you unravel the mystery of this World Heritage Site that has been puzzling people for centuries? An inspiring mysterious antiquity from a time when people understood the power of, and were in tune with, mother earth . . or is it just a pile of rocks? We know that it was constructed in several phases between around 3000 and 1700 BC, but why? How did they transport, shape and erect enormous stones that weigh up to 45 tons? And, again, why? It is now possible to gain access to the stones by arranging a private visit outside normal opening times.
(Can be combined with Windsor Castle, Salisbury, Wilton House, Bath)

Stonehenge

Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)

5 hours on its own but normally part of a combined full day
Ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Transformed into this distinctive Victorian Gothic pile by Sir Charles Barry (Houses of Parliament) and set in 1,000 acres of sweeping parkland.Highclere Castle - Downton Abbey
The interior reflects a taste that is typical of the landed aristocrats in the 19th century. From the masculine library (reminiscent of a gentlemen’s club) and smoking room to the more elegant (feminine?) Drawing Room.
The Egyptian exhibition is a legacy of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun with Howard Carter.
Highclere is perhaps better known as Downton Abbey, home of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and many of the scenes in that television series were filmed in the house.  The author, Julian Fellowes, is a friend of the family and there are similarities between events in the life of the fictitious Downton and real-life Highclere.
(Usually combined with a vist to Bampton (Downton Village))


Salisbury
5 hours on its own but normally part of a combined full day
Salisbury Cathedral never fails to delight. The grace and harmony of this Early English Gothic masterpiece is a testament to 13th century craftsmanship. Its spire, at 404 feet high, is the loftiest in England and its setting in a tranquil close has inspired painters, such as Turner and Constable. An exemplification (I was told off for calling it a copy) of the Magna Carta is here and the richly coloured glass in the east window illustrates the suffering of Prisoners of Conscience.
(Can be combined with Stonehenge, Winchester, Bath, Wilton House)

Salisbury Cathedral


Bath
10 to 12 hours as part of a combined full day
The Romans exploited the hot springs, building a leisure complex around them. The city that developed was dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, invention, the arts, and martial prowess. Those same waters were taken to relieve gout and indigestion in the 18th century when Bath became the centre of fashionable society. Today's city was built during that Georgian era - the age of elegance, epitomised by its timeless classical buildings of honey-coloured Bath (Cotswold) stone. We can visit the Roman baths and the elegant Pump Room, where you can drink the water! The Assembly Rooms houses the fascinating Museum of Costume. Take a moment or two to wander among the bustling shops where hanging baskets of flowers add splashes of colour.
(Can be combined with Stonehenge, Salisbury)

Roman Baths and Bath Abbey


Canterbury
Normally part of a combined full day

St Augustine was welcomed by King Ethelbert when he came here in the year 597AD. He built a monastery and Canterbury became the cradle of Christianity in England.
The cathedral is the mother church of the Anglican Communion and is one of the glories of English mediaeval architecture. The shrine of St Thomas Becket, who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170, became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England.
(Can be combined with Dover, Leeds Castle)

Canterbury Cathedral

 


 
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