1706 | RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

Chatsworth's inaugural RHS Flower Show, plus stunning gardens, historic houses, local heritage and spectacular scenery across Shropshire, Derbyshire & Yorkshire

This unique tour combines the splendour of the inaugural RHS Chatsworth Flower Show with some of Britain's finest gardens, a handful of iconic historic houses and the scenic paradise of the Yorkshire countryside.

All done in style, unhurriedly and with a small group of like-minded companions.

The tour
We couldn't believe our luck when the Royal Horticultural Society announced the inaugural Chatsworth RHS Flower Show, not least, because we were looking for a prestigious event in the horticultural calendar to balance our biennial Chelsea tour. But also, because we love Chatsworth and we can't think of a better excuse to go there!

We start the tour in the rolling countryside of north-east Shropshire, close to the Staffordshire border, within easy reach of Chatsworth House and with ready access to a wide range of first-rate, if slightly less-well known, gardens and other interesting attractions. The second half of the tour is set amid the scenic splendour of Yorkshire, visiting Castle Howard, Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal and other world-renowned gardens, and touching too, on the magnificent landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

Chatsworth House
Chatsworth has been the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire and the Cavendish family home since Sir William Cavendish, second husband of Bess of Hardwick, bought the estate in 1549. Many famous people are associated with the house, and famous women include Georgiana Cavendish, the first wife of William Cavendish, the 5th Duke, and great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales; John F. Kennedy's sister, Kathleen Kennedy, who married a later William Cavendish, elder son of the 10th Duke, but he was killed in action in 1944 and Kathleen died in a plane crash in 1948; his younger brother, Andrew, the 11th Duke, married Deborah Mitford, one of the Mitford girls, sister to Nancy, Diana, Pamela, Unity and Jessica Mitford.

The Royal Horticultural Society
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) was founded in March 1804, by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood, as the Horticultural Society of London and, in 1821, an experimental garden was established in Chiswick. It became the Royal Horticultural Society in 1861, a year before the first Great Spring Show, which later became the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Today, the RHS is the UK's leading gardening charity, dedicated to helping people share a passion for plants, encouraging excellence in horticulture and inspiring all those with an interest in gardening.

The gardens and other attractions
We visit an array of the very best gardens in each area, some of which are among Britain's finest gardens, and a selection of other attractions, including a number of historic houses, either in their own right or because of their garden, and the Wedgwood Museum, one of the finest such museums in the world.

The landscape
We are blessed with beautiful countryside, but there is no doubt that in Yorkshire we excel! We will spend time in the Yorkshire Dales and on the North York Moors, as well as the seaside at Whitby.

Sleeping & Eating
Our two hotels are both comfortable and well-appointed country hotels. Both family-owned and operated, each with their own charm and style and both with 2 AA red rosettes for our culinary excellence. Firstly, for four nights in Shropshire, Goldstone Hall Hotel and, secondly, for four nights in North Yorkshire, The Pheasant Hotel.

The Pheasant is an old friend to us and Goldstone Hall is new.  

We will dine-in, in our hotels' dining rooms on most evenings, and dine-out on three evenings, at The Fox, a well-established foody-pub, just down the road from Goldstone Hall, the Magpie Café, world-famous purveyor of wonderful Fish & Chips, on the Quay at Whitby, and The Star Inn, one of Britain's first Michelin-starred pubs.

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At a glance
Flower Show & scenic garden tour
Gardens & attractions:
RHS Chatsworth Flower Show
Maximum group size 12
Castle Howard
Two private visits
Biddulph Grange
Yorkshire Dales & North York Moors
4-nights Shropshire
Hardwick Hall
David Austin Roses
4-nights Yorkshire
Fountains Abbey
Historic houses & Wedgwood Museum
Wonderful hotels & fabulous food
Newby Hall
Fully escorted
Day 1 | Wednesday, 7 June

From the airports to Goldstone Hall, via Waterperry Gardens

Tim will collect you from either Stansted Airport or from the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, just north of Terminal 5 Heathrow Airport, and, once assembled, drive to Waterperry Gardens, for lunch and a stroll around these delightful gardens.

Waterperry Gardens started life in the late-1920s as a horticultural school for young women. Run by the redoubtable Beatrix Havergal and her partner Avice Sanders, their original prospectus stated that 'the training will consist of a theoretical and thoroughly practical training in the various branches of horticulture, including soils and manures, glasshouse management, pruning and garden construction'. The gardens now occupy some 8 acres/3.23 ha and we will have plenty of time to explore them before setting off to Goldstone Hall Hotel, in time for a light afternoon tea in the hotel's gardens. 

We will dine at Goldstone Hall.

Today's total driving is about 230 miles/370 km, for those of you setting off from Stansted, or about 165 miles/265 km, for those of you joining us at Heathrow

And please note that, in order to reach Goldstone Hall in time for a relaxing evening, we plan to depart Stansted Airport at 09:00 and the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel by about 11:00.

Wednesday, 7 June
Wisteria arches at Waterperry Gardens
Day 2 | Thursday, 8 June

A day close to home at David Austin Roses, Hodnet Hall & Wollerton

Our day starts with a visit to David Austin Roses, the world-famous rose breeders, where we can explore their display gardens and come to terms with our own rose-growing capabilities over morning coffee! We are only a few miles from Ironbridge - and the world's first iron bridge - and we will have time for a brief visit, to the town and its iconic structure, en route to Wollerton Old Hall.

We arrive at Wollerton Old Hall for lunch and much of the rest of the afternoon to admire Lesley and John Jenkins's garden. Created by them since 1984, and set around their 16th century home, the garden is an important garden in the English tradition and is planted, in their own words ". . . as controlled exuberance with a definite emphasis upon perennials."

There will be an organised garden walk at 2pm, should you who wish to join it.

We end the day at Hodnet Hall Gardens with a late-afternoon private visit to these exquisite gardens. There has been a park and gardens at Hodnet for hundreds of years, each one echoing its three houses - a Norman castle, a Tudor Mansion House and today's Victorian house - and I am looking forward to seeing this garden clothed in its June colours.

Dinner is not far away, at The Fox in nearby Aston Chetwynd.

Today's total driving is about 80 miles/130 km

Thursday, 8 June
The Long Garden, David Austin Roses
Day 3 | Friday, 9 June

A grand day out at the inaugural RHS Chatsworth Flower Show!

Today's the day, as we set off a little earlier than usual to spend the day at Chatsworth House for their inaugural RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.

Chatsworth's garden was first constructed by Sir William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick in 1555 and, today, Chatsworth remains one of Britain's finest houses, with a garden and grounds to match, and we shall have a whole day to enjoy it. Our experience at Chelsea suggests that six or seven hours is about the upper limit for most people at these shows, but we will play this by ear, and only leave when everyone is happy to.

We return to Goldstone Hall for dinner.

Today's total driving is about 120 miles/190 km

Friday, 9 June
Emperor Fountain & Canal Pond, Chatsworth House
Day 4 | Saturday, 10 June

A day in three counties, at three very different attractions

We start the day in Cheshire, with a private guided tour of Little Moreton Hall, a wonderful, moated, half-timbered manor house. The house, arranged around a rectangular cobbled courtyard and surrounded by a moat, was built for William Moreton, a prosperous Cheshire landowner, in about 1504-08, and it remained in the possession of the Moreton family until 1938.

After coffee we cross into Staffordshire, to visit nearby Biddulph Grange, a rare survival of the interim period between the Capability Brown landscape garden era and the High Victorian style. Biddulph Grange was bought in 1840 by James Bateman, an accomplished horticulturist, and, together with his wife, Maria, they developed the gardens, largely to display specimens from Bateman's extensive and wide-ranging collection of plants.

After a fire and an extensive period as a hospital, the National Trust took over the property in 1988, and have since restored the gardens. We have lunch at Biddulph Grange and much of the early afternoon, before visiting the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston. Superficially, at least, an unusual departure on one of our garden tours, but, not only is this museum the very finest of its type, we may recall that John Wedgwood, Josiah Wedgwood's son, was co-founder of the RHS.

There may also be time to pay a brief visit to Trentham Gardens, the restored formal gardens of the former grand house of the Dukes of Sutherland - and where, I think, my parents got engaged!

We return to Goldstone Hall for dinner.

Today's total driving is about 75 miles/120 km 

Saturday, 10 June
Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire
Day 5 | Sunday, 11 June

From Shropshire to Yorkshire, via Staffordshire & Derbyshire

We leave Goldstone Hall and cross Staffordshire to neighbouring Derbyshire, to visit Hardwick Hall, one of the finest and most significant examples of an Elizabethan country house. Built in the 1590s for Bess of Hardwick, it remained in the ownership of her descendants until the mid-twentieth century.

Bess of Hardwick was the richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth I, and her house was conceived to be a conspicuous statement of her wealth and power. The windows are exceptionally large and numerous at a time when glass was a luxury, leading to the saying, "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall." The house's design also demonstrated new concepts in domestic architecture, with the great hall on an axis through the centre of the house, rather than at right angles to it, and each of the three main storeys is taller than the one below, the ceiling height indicating the importance of the rooms' occupants - least noble at the bottom and grandest at the top!

After lunch, at Hardwick, we drive north to our new quarters at The Pheasant Hotel in Harome, stopping en route at an as-yet-unplanned NGS Open Garden. The National Garden Scheme (NGS) Gardens Open for Charity - most famous for its Yellow Book - is a nation-wide scheme of gardens, of all shapes and sizes, opening to the public and donating the gate receipts to charity. The 2017 'list' isn't published until February, but there will be plenty of choice on a June Sunday afternoon, and we will select something interesting and not too far off our route.

We arrive at The Pheasant late in the afternoon, in good time to settle in and relax, before drinks and dinner at The Pheasant.

Today's total driving is about 200 miles/320 km

Sunday, 11 June
One of our groups enjoying a previous NGS Open Gardens day
Day 6 | Monday, 12 June

RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Bettys & the Yorkshire Dales

Our day starts with a drive to Harrogate, a well-heeled Victorian spa town, for the morning at RHS Garden, Harlow Carr, one of four Royal Horticultural Society gardens, and the only one in the North. Harlow Carr was formerly the home of the Northern Horticultural Society, until the NHS merged with the larger RHS. It is the 'Wisley of the North' and, as you may imagine, it is an extensive garden, superbly maintained and with some exceptional features. Equally importantly, it also boasts a branch of Bettys Tea Rooms!

After lunch, at Harlow Carr, we drive north for an afternoon's leisurely tour in the Yorkshire Dales. One of Britain's 15 National Parks and an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Dales form the central and eastern section of the Peninnes, the range of hills and moorland forming the spine of northern England. This is Herriot country, of All Creatures Great & Small fame, it is where the world watched the start of the 2014 Tour de France and the setting for the film, Calendar Girls - doubtless you will recognise some of it!

We will journey northwards, along Wharfedale, stopping as we please for ice creams and photographs and return to Harome for dinner at The Star Inn, a short walk from The Pheasant.

Today's total driving is about 140 miles/225 kms

Monday, 12 June
Our previous bus on the North York Moors
Day 7 | Tuesday, 13 June

Brideshead Revisted, the North York Moors and Fish & Chips

Starting close to home, we spend the morning at Castle Howard. Forever synonymous with Brideshead Revisited, this fabulous house has been the home of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for more than 300 years, and is currently home to Nicholas and Victoria Howard.

The 3rd Earl of Carlisle commissioned Sir John Vanbrugh to build his new house and building began in 1699, but took over 100 years to complete. The house is surrounded by a large estate and was served by its own railway station until 1950s. It remains one of the largest country houses in England, and we have plenty of time to explore the house, its grounds and its fragrant rose gardens.

After lunch, at Castle Howard, we drive across the North York Moors, Yorkshire's other National Park, to the fascinating harbour and monastic town of Whitby. We plan to have some free time in Whitby and, whilst we haven't organised anything in particular, there are two attractions well-worth visiting, The Captain Cook Memorial Museum and Whitby Abbey, and we should have time to visit at least one of them before supper at The Magpie Café.

Today's total driving is about 80 miles/130 kms

Tuesday, 13 June
The Atlas Fountain, Castle Howard
Day 8 | Wednesday, 14 June

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden and Newby Hall

In a week of superlatives its not easy to be the final full-day's attractions, but today's gardens will stand comparison with the very best, and we begin the day with a visit to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a hauntingly memorable and historically fascinating landscape, comprising, on the one hand, the great ruins of the magnificent 12th-century Cistercian abbey and, on the other hand, one of Britain's finest landscaped water gardens - the whole comprising a World Heritage Site.

After lunch at Fountains, we may pause briefly in the neighbouring market town of Ripon to visit its cathedral, a 7th-century foundation, before our afternoon's immersion in Newby Hall's abundant gardens. Designed by Christopher Wren, Newby Hall is a handsome-enough house, but it is its gardens which steal the show. They flow from the house toward the River Ure, either side of a central and spectacular double herbaceous border - without doubt, one of the most delightful sights in any garden, on any of our tours.

We return to The Pheasant for a special end-of-tour dinner.

Today's total driving is about 80 miles/130 kms

Wednesday, 14 June
Studley Royal Water Gardens
Day 9 | Thursday, 15 June

One final fantasy, and back to reality!

Our timings today may depend upon people's flight times and destinations, but we are planning to have a reasonably early start, so that we may enjoy a worthwhile break at Burghley House - a house that I have driven past for more than half my life, but had never visited, until this year - and it's fabulous! Burghley House is a famous Elizabethan House, built by Elizabeth I's secretary, William Cecil and its gardens - much, much later - were subsequently landscaped by Capability Brown. We will have lunch and, hopefully, time for both the gardens and the house.

For those of you not needing to return to either Stansted or Heathrow Airports, there will be the opportunity to be dropped off at a suitable railway station, for trains to London. Otherwise we continue from Burghley, first to Stansted Airport and then to the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel where the tour ends.

If you are staying on, in the UK, and don't need, or wish, to return to the London area then please let us know your onward travel plans, so that we may assist you in getting to your next destination.

Today's total driving is about 215 miles/345 km, for those of you returning to Stansted, or about 280 miles/450km, for those of you leaving us at Heathrow

Thursday, 15 June
The crypt at Fountains Abbey
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
07 - 15 Jun
9 days
35 400,00
Single person suplement:
6 480,00

The rooms we have reserved at both Goldstone Hall Hotel and The Pheasant Hotel are standard double-bedded or twin-bedded rooms, but if you wish to upgrade to either a superior room or a suite, then please contact us.

Limited - RHS Chatsworth Flower Show
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 Waterperry Gardens, our first destination, or at Goldstone Hall Hotel, our hotel in north Shropshire (which may be especially more convenient for anyone arriving into Manchester Airport). But do let us know if any of these locations are difficult for you.

Confirmation of our precise meeting arrangements and introductions to your fellow travellers will be sent to everyone two weeks before the tour starts.
There are no specific notes for this particular tour.
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