Meet the Captain or a crew member at the Stafford Hotel in London at 3pm for afternoon English Cream Tea, before being transferred at 4pm to the Magna Carta. Champagne reception and welcome moored outside Hampton Court, former Tudor Palace of Henry VIII, where we remain overnight. Dinner aboard.
This morning we have ample time to really explore Hampton Court Palace, the most fabulous Tudor home, once belonging to Cardinal Wolsey until acquired by Henry VIII! We walk through Henry’s great hall and haunted gallery and see his chapel, still used for worship today and with the finest Tudor ceiling in existence. There is much more to see including the stunning privy gardens, the oldest growing grape vine and the famous maze! After lunch we enjoy our first cruise, up through Molesey Lock and following the meandering path of the river through Sunbury, Chertsey, and Shepperton to our overnight mooring on Bell Weir Lock at Runnymede. Dinner aboard.
After breakfast we have the option to use the spa facilities of the newly refurbished Runnymede on Thames hotel including pool, sauna and steam room. Beauty therapies, massages and other treatments are available but are best booked in advance. This morning we cruise to Windsor before enjoying lunch on board. Our river journey takes us through Runnymede where King John faced the barons in 1215 and was forced to put his seal on the Magna Carta, the document which was the very first Bill of Rights and from which our vessel takes its name. From the boat we see the Magna Carta memorial and Magna Carta Island where the sealing took place. Our afternoon excursion is to Windsor Castle. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066 and lived in for over 900 years by the Royal Family. This is the largest inhabited castle in the world. We explore the State Apartments, See Queen Mary’s Dolls House and St George’s Chapel and enjoy the far-reaching views from its elevated fortress position. Dinner aboard.
Leaving Royal Windsor behind us we cruise up to Boveney Lock and take a walk to Dorney Court.
This very special home has been owned by the Palmer family for more than 450 years passing
from father to son through 13 generations. King Henry VIII has stayed here and the manor is regularly used for filming including “Poirot” and most recently “The other Boleyn girl” We are luck to enjoy a private tour of the house.
Our cruise continues past the fabulous waterside homes of Bray and Maidenhead, Boulters Lock (made famous in Victorian times) and into the spectacular Clivedon reach where we have special permission to moor at the house itself. Cliveden was once owned by the Astor family, though the original house dates back to 1666. The gardens are simply amazing and include a Parterre, Chinese water garden and topiary. We discuss the political intrigue and scandal for which Cliveden is famous!
A late afternoon cruise takes us to a stunning mooring at Cookham Lock. Cookham ,was once described as ‘Heaven on Earth’ by artist Sir Stanley Spencer, one of England’s greatest and most eccentric painters. Much of his work was painted in and around Cookham. Dinner aboard.
After breakfast we visit StanleySpencer’s gallery and take a walk around the village before cruising through Bourne End and Marlow to Hurley. We tour Peter Freebody’s boatyard and watch in wonder at the traditional craftsman at work, building and restoring wooden boats as they have been done for generations. We have time to explore the ancient 11th century village including Ye Olde Belle, reputed to be the oldest inn in the country before returning to the barge. Dinner aboard.
A morning cruise to Henley on Thames through fabulous countryside our final mooring being along the famous Henley Regatta Rowing Course. An earlier lunch followed by a 40 minute drive to Oxford. A fascinating tour of Christ Church, Oxford’s grandest college, founded twice, once by Cardinal Wolsey and then by King Henry VIII. The magnificent surroundings were where Lewis Carrol wrote Alice in Wonderland. For our final night we enjoy the Captains Farewell Dinner aboard.
After a leisurely breakfast and final morning on the barge, then, leaving your luggage behind to be collected by your hosts, dine at a local restaurant bursting with traditional English character. Your Cotswolds hosts will then greet you with your luxury private transfer service direct to The Manor house.
From here, prepare to enjoy Jones and Campbell’s Classic Itinerary.