1807 | Roses on the English & Welsh Marches

Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun, are the quietest places under the sun

So wrote the English poet, A.E. Houseman, in the opening lines to one of his famous A Shropshire Lad poems, and it sums up Shropshire fairly well. Shropshire is quiet. Actually, it is very quiet, and it's very beautiful too, and these are two good reasons why we are basing this tour in Shropshire. And there are many other good reasons too...

Truth be told, Shropshire is a bit of a hidden gem and is one of England's most rural and sparsely populated counties; it is also landlocked and is England's largest inland county. The River Severn, Britain's longest river, runs through Shropshire, and Ironbridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the world's first iron bridge sits in the Severn Gorge, to the east of the county.

The Shropshire Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, covers about a quarter of the county, mainly in the south, and the remainder of the county, predominently rolling green pasture, is largely taken up with dairy farming. There are no large cities, but there are many traditional market towns, including Ludlow, which has made its name as a gourmet town, and Shrewsbury, the county town.

Unspoilt, unrushed and tranquil; a bit like our tours!

The Marches
The Marches is an imprecisely defined area along the border between England and Wales, and the precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods. Historically, the English term Welsh March was originally used to denote the marches between England and the Principality of Wales, in which Marcher Earls had specific rights, exercised to some extent independently of the King of England. In modern usage, the Marches is often used to describe those English counties which lie along the border with Wales, particularly Shropshire and Herefordshire, and sometimes adjoining areas of Wales.

Roses and the gardens
We don't wish to be accused of misrepresentation, so we better explain that we call this the rose tour, because this is the peak season for roses in England and, although not every garden we visit is, in its purest sense, a 'rose' garden, the overall emphasis of the tour is on roses and most, if not all, the gardens will have roses - some of them spectacularly so.

This tour visits a dozen gardens during the week, a mixture of gardens open regularly to the public and private gardens, open only by appointment or only occasionally, and a mixture, too, of large gardens surrounding grand houses, and smaller gardens, surrounding more modestly sized family homes.

Sleeping & Eating
We are staying for the whole week at the wonderful Goldstone Hall Hotel, a hotel we 'discovered' a little while ago and stayed at, for the first time, on our 2017 Chatsworth Flower Show tour, and it didn't disappoint. Owned and run by the Cushing family, everything - from the excellent food, the charming staff and the comfortable rooms to the peaceful countryside location and its own gorgeous garden - makes Goldstone Hall the perfect place to stay.

We will dine-in, at Goldstone Hall, on four evenings and dine-out on two, at The Pheasant Inn, in Burwardsley, Cheshire, and down the road, at The Fox, in Chetwynd Aston.

Please let us know if any of the website links become dysfunctional. Thank you.

At a glance
Garden tour
12 gardens including:
Five private garden visits:
Max group size 12
David Austin Roses
inc 2 private garden tours
Powis Castle
The English & Welsh borders
Superb hotel
Arley Hall
Wonderful rural landscapes
Excellent food
Wollerton Old Hall
Fully escorted
Day 1 | Friday, 1 June

From the airports to Shopshire, via Spetchley Park

Tim will collect you from either Stansted Airport, or the front door of its neighbouring Radisson Blu Hotel, or from the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, immediately north of Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport.

Once we are all together we head north west, away from London, to Spetchley Park, where we should arrive in time for lunch and for a couple of hours relaxation in Spetchley's glorious gardens. Spetchley Park is steeped in history, with the current house dating to 1811 and successive members of the family created the landscape and the gardens in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; interestingly, Spetchley was one of the first gardens in the country to open its gates to visitors under the National Garden Scheme, in 1925.

It is about a ninety-minute drive from Spetchley to Goldstone Hall Hotel, where we shall arrive in good time to relax, before drinks and dinner, at Goldstone Hall.

Please see our notes in the Joining Instructions.

Today's driving is a total of about 230 miles/370 km from Stansted and 160 miles/260 from Heathrow.

Friday, 1 June
Roses at Goldstone Hall Hotel
Day 2 | Saturday, 2 June

A day in Cheshire, at two very different properties

We start the day in Cheshire, with a guided tour of Little Moreton Hall, one of the finest examples of Cheshire's famous 'black and white' half-timbered houses. Construction of Little Moreton Hall began in about 1504, with modifications in 1610, but other than that, it has largely been untouched for 400 years, and thank goodness for that!

Late in the morning, we leave Little Moreton for Arley Hall, a garden we have long wished to visit, and one which is frequently recommended to us, propably because it's amongst the finest in Europe. The gardens have been created over the last 250 years by successive generations of the same family and they offer an unusual blend of long history and traditional design with inspired modern ideas and additions - resulting in a garden rich in atmosphere, interest and vitality.

We stay in Cheshire for supper, at The Pheasant Inn, in Burwardsley, the Good Pub Guide's 'Cheshire Dining Pub of the Year 2017'.

Today's driving is a total of about 115 miles/185 km.

Saturday, 2 June
Little Moreton Hall
Day 3 | Sunday, 3 June

A day across the border in Wales

We head west, and cross the border for a day in Wales, starting with a visit to Dingle Nurseries & Garden, a long-time favourite of ours, where, not only will you have the opportunity to see a first-rate nursery in operation, but admire their Dell Garden too.

Once we have seen all we wish to see, and had a coffee, we drive to nearby Powis Castle for the rest of the day and, believe me, it takes the rest of the day! Powis is many things, but principally it is a medieval border fortress built high above the surrounding area in about 1200, with a world-famous terraced garden, laid out in the Italian and French styles of the day and, finally, Powis houses the Clive Museum, one of the largest private collections of Indian artefacts in Britain.

We return to Goldstone Hall for dinner.

Today's driving is a total of about 110 miles/180 km.

Sunday, 3 June
Powis Castle
Day 4 | Monday, 4 June

Close to home, two private visits of two wonderful gardens

Our day is spent barely ten miles from Goldstone Hall, with private visits to two wonderful, though strikingly different gardens.

The morning's visit is to Wollerton Old Hall, a sixteenth-century Hall House, the childhood home of Lesley Jenkins, who returned to it with her husband, John, when they bought it in the early 1980s. The 4 acre/1.6 ha garden surrounds the hall, and has been developed in the English Garden tradition, with echoes of the Arts and Crafts style and a degree of formality, demanded by a property of such great age. There is much in the garden for the plant enthusiast and the garden is bursting with design ideas, and the range of plants includes significant collections of clematis, salvias, phlox and roses.

We depart Wollerton for the neighbouring village of Hodnet, stopping for lunch at The Bear, which, by happy co-incidence, is opposite Hodnet Hall, a garden we first visited last year, and a garden that ought to visited every year.

There has been a park and gardens, and the same family, at Hodnet for hundreds of years, and the current layout of the gardens was largely the work of Brigadier A.G.W. Heber-Percy, the present occupant's father, in the 1920s. He set out to create a union between the old grounds of the earlier mansion and the newer gardens of the present house. Over 60 acres/24 ha of brilliantly coloured flowers, magnificent forest trees, sweeping lawns and a chain of ornamental pools run tranquilly along the cultivated garden valley, a haven for waterfowl and other wildlife.

We return to Goldstone Hall for dinner.

Today's driving is a total of about 17 miles/30 km.

Monday, 4 June
Wollerton Old Hall
Day 5 | Tuesday, 5 June

To the south of the county, two more private gardens and an Ironbridge

We have a busy day in in the south of Shropshire, starting at George & Fiona Chancellor's home, Windy Ridge, in Little Wenlock. Created over the past 28 years, not only is Fiona's garden something to marvel at, it is, at less than one acre, on a scale that we can more easily associate with - although it is award-winning and planted with over 1000 species, so perhaps not as great as an association as we would like! From Windy Ridge we drive to Little Wenlock's big brother, Much Wenlock, passing through nearby Ironbridge and stopping, briefly, to visit the world's first iron bridge.

We will have lunch in Much Wenlock, a historic and attractive market town, and claimant of the title of the town that inspired the modern Olympic Movement. Just off the high street, behind the Parish Church, is Wenlock Priory and its topiary-filled cloister garden, which will be worth a visit, if time allows it.

And keeping with the priory theme, our final visit of the day is to Preen Manor, a 6-acre/2.4 ha garden on site of Cluniac monastery. Developed for over 30 years, the Trevor-Jones family don't like to stand still, and change is always in progress. The formal gardens include a pretty cottage garden, a chess garden and a pebble garden and a woodland garden.

We return north, stopping for supper at The Fox, in Chetwynd Aston.

Today's driving is a total of about 70 miles/110 km. 

Tuesday, 5 June
The pond at Windy Ridge
Day 6 | Wednesday, 6 June

A return to the Welsh Marches, and two castles

We return westward, over the Welsh border to Chirk Castle, an imposing castle dating to 1295, and one of several medieval marcher fortresses sited on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. The gardens date to 1653, when Sir Thomas Myddelton laid out his first formal garden. Alterations and remodelling, to keep up with fashions of the day, continued until the Second World War, when the gardens were neglected. Thankfully, they were revived, almost single-handedly, by Lady Margaret Myddelton, who created the colourful planting scheme that we see today.

From Chirk, we re-cross the border, to visit Cholmondeley Castle, the home of the Cholmondeley family, who have resided at here since Norman times. The gardens we see today are the life's work of Lady Lavinia Cholmondeley, who transformed the gardens over a 60 year period from the late-1940's. The rose garden and tennis court were the first projects, in the early 1950's, and from there the garden was developed section by section with the Duckery being the last big project in 2006.

We return to Goldstone Hall for our end-of-tour dinner.

Today's diving is a total of about 100 miles/160 km.

Wednesday, 6 June
Chirk Castle from the air
Day 7 | Thursday, 7 June

One last day, one final flourish...

...and what a final flourish! After breakfast, and after loading the minibus, we set off for the 30-minute drive to the world-famous rose grower and breeder, David Austin Roses, where we have the whole morning to take in the spectacle of their display garden, seek expert advice, indulge in a little retail therapy and weep at the range of roses for sale in the sales area!

Timings may be dependent upon flight departure times, but we plan to leave David Austin Roses after an early lunch in their very pleasant Tea Room and then head south, along the M40 Motorway, directly to the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, and thence to Stansted Airport, arriving at Stansted in good time for your evening flight home.

If you are staying on, in Britain, and don't wish to return to either Heathrow or Stansted, but would rather be dropped off elsewhere, then please let us know, so that we may assist you in getting to your next destination.

Today's driving is a total of about 160 miles/260 km to Heathrow and 230 miles/370 km to Stansted. 

Thursday, 7 June
The long border at David Austin Roses
General Notes

During our tours, we endeavour to be as faithful to our itineraries as possible, but sometimes changes do occur, either necessarily or unavoidably.

Need some help?
We have prepared some helpful information - under 'Essential Information', and this information is designed to enhance your holiday. The pages are, 'An Introduction', 'Additional Information', 'Booking and Paying' and 'Travel Information'.

The tour area map
Click on the Google map of the tour area, and it will open in a new window. The various tour locations are marked GREEN (for gardens), ORANGE (for other attractions), RED (for pubs, hotels and restaurants) and BLUE (for transport) - and click on these markers for more information.

Tour Information
01 - 07 Jun
7 days
Arley Hall
Cholmondeley Castle
Spetchley Park
Hodnet Hall
Wollerton Old Hall
David Austin Roses
Goldstone Hall Hotel
The Fox, Aston Chetwynd
The Pheasant Inn, Burwardsley
24 480,00
Single person suplement:
4 200,00

Limited - Roses on the English & Welsh Marches
The joining points for this tour are Stansted Airport, including its on-airport hotels, and the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel. Additionally, you may join the tour at our hotel, but do let us know if any of these locations are difficult for you.

Typically, we aim to collect from Stansted at 09:00 and some two hour's later, at the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, but confirmation of our precise meeting arrangements and introductions to your fellow travellers will be sent to everyone two weeks before the tour starts.

Please note that we do not collect from Heathrow terminal forecourts.
There are no specific notes for this particular tour.
Click to see where we visit