The tour begins at Victoria Coach Station, London with a morning departure to Harrogate by private executive coach. Our first port of call is Renishaw Hall just North of Chesterfield, where we have lunch and later enjoy a tour of the building and the Italian gardens. Renishaw Hall, dating from the 1725, is the seat of the Sitwell family and is remembered particularly for being the home of the famous literary trio, Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell Sitwell. Today, the house belongs to Alexandra, granddaughter of Sacheverell, and it still retains the family’s wonderful collection of books, art and furniture. We continue our journey to Harrogate with a brief visit to St Wilfrid’s Church, Harrogate’s only Grade 1 listed building (time permitting). St Wilfrid’s was designed by the architect Temple Lushington Moore and is his most celebrated work. We then check into our hotel where we stay for four nights. After a welcome drink we have dinner together in the hotel.
Following our morning lecture on The Pirates of Penzance (in preparation for this evening’s opera) we spend the day in the locality of the city of Ripon. First, we take a tour of Markenfield Hall, a privately owned moated Medieval manor house dating from 1310, and claimed to be the most continuously inhabited house in the country. The changing fortunes of Markenfield will be discussed as we explore the building, but the true joy of the Hall is to see how little it has changed in the past 700 years. We stay at the Hall for lunch and then make our way to Ripon Cathedral, one of the smaller, but among the most magnificent of English Cathedrals. The building is famous for its early English Western front, as well as for its Anglo-Saxon crypt - the oldest surviving of its type in any equivalent structure. We return to Harrogate for an early dinner, followed by Brussels Light Opera’s performance of The Pirates of Penzance in the Royal Hall, which is a short walk from our hotel.
After a relaxing start to the morning, we pay a visit to Scampston Hall, which is a completely different take on Sunday and Monday’s concept of a ‘hall’. Despite its origins lying in a 17th century structure, Scampston Hall’s appearance is Regency in manner, having been extensively remodelled for its owners - the St Quintin family - between 1795 and 1801 by the architect Thomas Leverton. The house possesses a fine collection of art and furniture, all displayed in stylish interiors. Capability Brown designed the park in the 1770s, but a recent addition to the outside space is the unique, walled garden, designed by the famous Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf in 1999. After lunch, we visit another architectural rarity, Birdsall House, near Malton, in East Yorkshire. Ruins in the gardens remind the visitor that the house sprang into being after the dissolution of the monasteries, but what we see today is a fine Georgian edifice, with late 19th century additions. The Willoughby family owns the property and it is their art and furniture collection that we will see on our tour. We return to Harrogate for dinner in the hotel and an evening at leisure.
After a morning lecture on HMS Pinafore we travel to Castle Howard, which has been home to the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for more than 300 years, and a fitting apotheosis to our Yorkshire country house visiting. Nothing quite prepares the visitor for the Classical magnificence of Castle Howard, nor indeed for its unexpected position in the folds of the Yorkshire countryside. The building, originally designed by Vanbrugh, took over 100 years to complete and involved three successive generations of Howards with differing aesthetic expectations. Nonetheless, Castle Howard appears today as an homogenous whole, rewarding the visitor with a feast of architecture, art and landscaped gardens. After lunch, we stroll through the grounds of Fountains Abbey, one of the largest and best-preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. If time permits, we will wander to see other attractions of the World Heritage Site of the Studley Royal Park, including the Royal Water Garden, the Jacobean Mansion, and the 18th century landscaped garden. We return to the hotel, and after an early dinner, walk to the Royal Hall to enjoy a performance by the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company of HMS Pinafore.
After checking out of our hotel, we travel to York to spend the morning in the minster, the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe. While York Minster can trace its origins back to a wooden church built on the site in 627, today’s building is a Gothic structure, completed in 1472, and designed to complement Canterbury Cathedral in scope and vision. Here we enjoy a guided tour of the building, as well as an organ recital, given by the resident organist on the recently refurbished Elliot and Hill instrument, dating from the 1830s. After lunch, we make our way home, taking in one more country house en route, this time Thrumpton Hall - a small, but exquisite Jacobean house, located outside Nottingham. We return to our original pick-up points - taking in carefully selected comfort stops en route.
NB: Please note we reserve the right to alter the above itinerary if required for operational reasons. Given the historic nature of the places visited, a certain degree of walking will be involved, and this holiday may not be suitable for those with mobility problems. Price based on twin share. Minimum numbers required. Normal booking conditions apply.
Tour limited to 24 passengers
Two Gilbert & Sullivan operas
Two morning lectures by Peter on the operas
Organ recital at York Minster
4* hotel in Harrogate
All excursions, guided tours & entrance fees (except Fountains Abbey) included
All meals included (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
Private drinks reception on Day 1
Professional local guide Days 2 to 4
Private executive coach
Gratuities for hotel & restaurant staff included
Renishaw Hall - guided tour
St Wilfrid’s Church
Markenfield Hall - guided tour
Birdsall House - guided tour
Studley Royal Park & the Royal Water Garden
York Minster - guided tour & organ recital by the resident organist
We stay four nights on half board basis at the 4* Old Swan Hotel (www.classiclodges.co.uk/the-old-swan) in the spa town of Harrogate. The most famous hotel in historic Harrogate is set in extensive gardens and just a short walk from the centre of town. Facilities at the hotel include the Wedgwood Restaurant and bar. All rooms are en suite and feature television, telephone, hairdryer, iron & ironing board and tea & coffee making facilities.
Insurance (including Covid cover) £29
Single room supplement £99
Entrance fee to Fountains Abbey (free to National Trust members)
Gratuities for driver
Click Here to download the Brochure and Booking Form and then post the completed Booking Form with your deposit payment as instructed on the Booking Form. Please note that you cannot book this holiday online. Once you receive a Confirmation & Invoice from us as confirmation of your booking, you can pay the final balance by following the instructions set out in your Confirmation & Invoice.
Call us on
020 7064 4970
if you have any queries regarding this tour
Tailor make your group tour
If you are organise tour for your club, society etc and think you can get a group of 15 or more, we can tailor make your own tour exclusively for your group.
Call us on
020 7064 4970
to tailor make the perfect tour
for your group