Exclusive Homes & Gardens: Compton Verney & the Cotswolds

12 - 13 May 2019

Enjoy a summer break on our new stately homes and gardens tour, staying overnight at the magnificent 4-star country house hotel Ettington Park, near Stratford-upon-Avon

A highlight of our tour will be a specially-arranged tour of Painting Childhood: From Holbein to Freud, one of 2019’s exhibition highlights which will open at Compton Verney in the Spring. We are delighted that its curator Dr Amy Orrock will be our expert guide. Other visits include a private opening of Rousham House (by special arrangement with the family) in Oxfordshire; a private out-of-hours opening of Bourton House Gardens where we enjoy a tour with its head gardener, as well as a private opening of Upton House and afternoon tea at Barnsley House with its famous gardens designed by Rosemary Verey

All meals are included – morning coffee at Rousham; two lunches, dinner with wine at Ettington Park and afternoon tea at Barnsley House.

This tour is now fully booked but please let us know if you would like to join a waiting list as places do sometimes become available.




You will be picked up from Cobham in Surrey* (there may also be a pick-up from Richmond-on-Thames, times TBC, please get in touch for optional pick-ups). We then drive by executive coach to Rousham House and Garden in Oxfordshire (journey time approx 1½ hours). The house has been continuously in the ownership of the same family since its construction in the early 17th century and it was remodelled by William Kent in the 18th century who also created the exceptional landscaped gardens which transport Italian classicism into the English countryside. Kent's work survives virtually unchanged at Rousham and has been praised as the epitome of English Arcadian charm. Click here for a short video showing Rousham taken from “The Secret History of British Gardens” (2015), presented by Monty Don. 

The house is not open to the public but we will enjoy a private guided tour (by special arrangement with the family) following coffee and biscuits on arrival.

Afterwards we drive to Compton Verney, an award-winning art gallery housed in a Grade 1 listed mansion. Set in 120 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown parkland within the beautiful Warwickshire countryside, the house was built in 1714 by Richard Verney, 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke and later remodelled by Robert Adam for John Verney, the 14th Baron, in the 1760s. It contains a magnificent art gallery including a fine collection of British portraits including paintings of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir William Beechey, plus two celebrated views of London by Canaletto. Siân will give a short talk on the permanent collections en route.

On arrival we enjoy a 2-course lunch followed by a private tour of Painting Childhood: From Holbein to Freud, one of 2019’s exhibition highlights which will open at Compton Verney in the Spring. We are delighted that its curator Dr Amy Orrock will be our expert guide. Some of you will have met Amy last year when we visited the Bruegel exhibition which she curated at the Holburne Museum in Bath. This celebration of children, childhood and innocence brings together some of the most beautiful paintings, sketches and sculptures of children produced in the past 500 years. There will be major loans by many artists including Holbein, van Dyck, Jan Steen, Murillo, Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Zoffany, Millais and Lucian Freud. Many paintings will be paired with their preparatory sketches.

After the tour there will be free time to enjoy the permanent collection and gardens before we depart for our hotel, Ettington Park, just 10 minutes by coach.

Ettington Park is a splendid Neo-Gothic mansion set in 40 acres of parkland just outside Stratford Upon Avon.  This elegant 4-star historic country house boasts elegant furnishings, ornate Rococo plasterwork ceilings, marquetry inlaid wood panelling and fine paintings. Residents have exclusive use of a heated indoor pool, spa bath, sauna, steam room, tennis courts and croquet lawn. There will be time on arrival to enjoy any (or all!) of these or simply relax with a book in the elegant library

Dinner with wine is served in the Rosette Oak Room Restaurant


After a leisurely breakfast we depart for a private opening of nearby Upton House and Gardens, before it opens to the public. Upton House was built in 1695 and remodelled in the 1920s for the 2nd Viscount Bearsted, whose family founded the Shell Oil Company. The alterations to Upton were made in part to display the family’s magnificent art collections whose many masterpieces include works by Stubbs, Hogarth, Bosch, Bruegel, Canaletto, El Greco and Gainsborough.  After refreshments on arrival we enjoy a specially-arranged private guided tour, followed by lunch and some free time to enjoy the gardens.

We then depart for a private tour of the award-winning Bourton House Garden, a short drive away. Bourton House garden is one of the hidden gems of the Cotswolds, a 3-acre garden with a tranquil atmosphere and inspirational planting, set within beautiful Cotswold countryside. It is closed on a Monday but we have arranged a special out-of-hours opening and tour with Head Gardener Jacky Rae. The garden features magnificent wide herbaceous borders, imaginative topiary, a serene White Garden and many creatively planted pots. May is an excellent time to see the structure of the garden including repeating themes such as the ogee arch in hedges, metalwork and trellis work and the statuary, water features and shade house.  A must for all garden enthusiasts!

The day ends with afternoon tea (included) at Barnsley House, famous for its small but perfectly formed gardens. These were created by Rosemary Verey who then went on to design the famous New York Botanical Gardens, as well as gardens for Prince Charles and Princess Michael of Kent. It will be the perfect place for us to relax and enjoy a stroll before we head home. 

We return in the afternoon and should arrive home by 7.00.

* For those for whom Cobham is not so convenient and wishing to join us en route, optional pick-ups can be discussed – please get in touch. Pick-ups times are approximate and will be confirmed in writing approx 2/3 weeks before travel.

Further Tour Information

Overnight accommodation including breakfast and dinner with wine has been arranged at the 4-star Ettington Park Hotel. All rooms are very comfortable and spacious combining period features with contemporary comforts. As a historic country house, each of the 48 bedrooms has its own character, while at the same time making you feel at home.  They are equipped with hospitality warm drinks trays; still and sparkling water; Hypnos Lansdowne cashmere mattresses; irons, luxurious toiletries and bathrobes, flat screen TV, safes and complimentary wifi. Single rooms are doubles based on single occupancy.  Porterage is not included. Guest areas include an excellent restaurant, a bar and lounges. Residents have exclusive use of a heated indoor pool, spa bath, sauna, steam room and all-weather tennis courts plus a croquet lawn. There will be time to enjoy the hotel's facilities on both days.

Itinerary and Meals
A detailed, confirmed itinerary including timings will be provided approximately two weeks before travel and all reservations made where necessary. Further information regarding travel will also be provided but our coach will depart from Hollyhedge Road in Cobham and possibly also The Old Deer Park in Richmond if there are enough to make an extra stop feasible.

Dinner with wine (half a bottle) is included at Ettington Park as is breakfast. Morning coffee and lunch are included on Sunday and coffee, lunch and afternoon tea are included on Monday.

Please inform us when booking of any food intolerances or allergies so that these can be catered for. Thank you

How Strenuous?
Please note that there is some walking and standing involved in the trip, although at a gentle pace and not strenuous. It is not necessary to visit the gardens in all the properties if you prefer to just visit the houses and then rest. There are some steps in the properties and lifts are not always available so the trip may not be suitable for those who cannot manage stairs.

The price will be £386.50 per person for those sharing a double or twin room (please let us know which you prefer when booking) and a single room supplement of £47.50. There is a £10 discount for National Trust members.

The price includes 4-star hotel accommodation for 1 night including breakfast and dinner with wine; transfers by private coach; guided tours and specially arranged private visits; 2 lunches; afternoon tea; morning coffee; reservations and all entrance fees in the itinerary. It does not include insurance or personal spending.

National Trust Discount
If you are a member of the National Trust, the tour price will be reduced by £10. Please bring your National Trust card with you. We will refund this money by paypal if you pay online (please let us know if you do not have a paypal account), or if you are paying by cheque please simply deduct £10 per person from the total.

Important note:
Please do inform us on booking if you have National Trust membership, and please do make a note to bring your pass on the day otherwise the extra £10 will be applicable at Upton House. We are afraid that we are unable to offer discounts if we are informed about passes after bookings have been made. Thank you.

If you would like to join the tour please complete the online booking form. If you would prefer to send a booking form by post please download a copy hereUK tours do not involve flights and so you will not receive an ATOL certificate with your booking receipt, nor do we require any Advanced Passenger Information (passport details). Please leave this section blank on the online booking form, thank you. Travel insurance is optional for all UK tours, so you may also prefer to leave this section blank.

Once your booking has been accepted, we will notify you by email. If you have not received an email confirmation, please check your ‘deleted items' and 'junk mail' folders. If you have not received a confirmation please do contact us to ensure that we have received your booking

A full itinerary and practical details will be sent approximately two weeks in advance. We regret we are unable to offer refunds on unused tickets, but tickets may be transferred to someone else for the event you have booked (please do let us know if you would like to do so, and give us the name of the person who will be taking your place). Availability is limited but friends and relatives are as always welcome!

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event


  • Dinner, bed and breakfast at the luxury Ettington Park mansion
  • Specially arranged tour of exhibition at Compton Verney with its curator Amy Orrock
  • Private opening of Bourton House Garden and tour with head gardener
  • Private visits of Rousham House and Upton House
  • Afternoon tea at Barnsley House, famous for its beautiful garden
  • All-inclusive price, with all meals included
  • National Trust discount


  • Tour Price: £386.50
  • Single Supplement: £47.50
  • Room Upgrade: per room per night
  • Deposit: £225.00
  • Lecturer: Siân Walters
  • Guest Speakers: various


Booking is now closed.

If you have any questions regarding the tour or booking please send us an email or
call on +44 (0)1932 267322

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