Contact Wild Blue Yonder:
Historic Bath: $4,585
Oxford Extension: $2,160
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Explore Historic Bath and Oxford with Historic Annapolis
Tour Historic Bath
May 3 - May 10, 2020
Optional Extension to Oxford
May 10 - May 13, 2020
Immerse yourself in the Georgian world of Bath, England, comparing it with our own Georgian heritage in Annapolis. As we trace Jane Austen’s steps and the social life of Bath, think about the social life here of our William and Mary Paca at that time. Then perhaps join us on the extension, when we explore the Gothic quads, chapels and dining halls of Oxford.
Jane Austen wrote often of the highly mannered social life in Bath of the 19th century, and she lived there for several years as well. In tracing her steps, we’ll visit the Pump Room, where one “took the waters,” and the Assembly Rooms where men and women flirted ever so lightly.
Of course, the “waters” wouldn’t have been there without the Roman Baths, where we’ll see the pools and columns and stonework from 2000 years ago.
We’ll also get a glimpse into how people lived during that time, with our visit to 1 Royal Crescent, a graceful period townhouse, and a fascinating view into the Fashion Museum. Our hotel is located on quiet Queen Square, away from the tourist bustle but only steps from where Jane herself lived, and where the Jane Austen Centre is located. (Afternoon tea served daily.)
But this corner of England holds much more than just Bath. We’ll spend a day at Highgrove, Prince Charles’ primary residence, where we’ll have a walking tour of his extensive – and highly personal – gardens, and lunch there as well. We’ll also visit Chavenage, an Elizabethan home still lived in by the family. If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve surely seen it, as it was a major site in the filming of the BBC show Poldark. A member of the family will take us around on a very personal tour and – unlike any other historic house we’ve ever visited – even invite us to sit in the ancient chairs.
Finally, the stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge are nearby, and we’ll visit both. Avebury is a huge ring of stones surrounding the little hamlet of Avebury, and you can walk up and touch the stones. We can’t touch anything at Stonehenge, but we can get an up-close view of the mysterious circle.
On the way to Oxford for an optional extension, we’ll drive to Highclere, better known as Downton Abbey. It’s only open to the public 60 days a year, but we’ll be there to go inside the house, walk the gardens, and have a light lunch. In Oxford, we’ll visit some of the most well-known colleges with their grassy courtyards, ornate cathedrals and dining halls that inspired many Harry Potter scenes. We’ll have time to visit the world’s oldest university museum, the Ashmolean, and the Bodleian Library, plus a number of places where the BBC series Inspector Morse was filmed. Finally, we’ll have a day at Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born. The current Duke and Duchess of Marlborough still live there, and we’ll visit their private apartments as well as grand ceremonial spaces.
Join us for an Information Session on Tuesday, November 12 at 6 pm to learn more about the trip from the trip leaders. Please register here!
Itinerary: May 3 - May 10, 2020
Note that as of this writing some events have not opened for 2020 scheduling yet, so do expect this itinerary to change as they get finalized. Also, we may make changes to this itinerary in response to unexpected closings, road conditions, weather or other unforeseen events.
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Monday, May 4, 2020
Arrive in Bath. Because people will be arriving at different times, you’ll have the afternoon free after checking in to the Sofitel Hotel Francis.
6 pm: Welcome and orientation in the hotel.
9:45 am: We walk through the Royal Victoria Park to visit One Royal Crescent, a period house decorated in the styles of 1776 -1796. It will give us an introduction to the everyday life of people in Bath in Jane Austen’s lifetime. This home also represents life in Bath at the same time that William and Mary Paca were enjoying life in Annapolis, in their home completed in 1765. From there, we’ll stroll into town for lunch.
2:30 pm: Meet back at the hotel for our private walking tour of Bath, focused on the places where Jane Austen lived and frequented while in Bath. It will also give us a very useful overview of Bath itself.
6:30 pm: This evening we will have a guest speaker, Diana White, chair of the Bath & Bristol group for the UK Jane Austen Society. She’ll focus on everyday life and Jane’s status as a woman at the time.
9:30 am: We depart this morning for Highgrove, the primary residence of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla. We’ll tour the extensive gardens, primarily designed by Prince Charles in cooperation with his gardeners. For lunch, we’ll have tea at Highgrove, and you’ll have time to browse the gift and garden shop. We’ll return to Bath with a drive through the countryside.
6:30 pm: At our get-together this evening, we have a special treat: a cheese tasting planned for us by Paxton & Whitfield, Briton’s oldest and most respected cheesemonger; they were established over 200 years ago. Winston Churchill once observed, “A gentleman only buys his cheese at Paxton and Whitfield.”
9:30 am: This morning we’ll walk over to the heart of the ancient city to visit the Roman Baths, dating from the period when the Romans occupied England. They discovered the hot springs from the Mendip Hills, and built a temple on the site in 60 – 70AD. The baths grew up around the temple for the next 300 years, and it’s now a very well-preserved site of antiquity.
Afterwards, you may want to have lunch in the Pump Room, a social hub of Bath in the Georgian era. You may also want to visit Bath Abbey, located very near the baths.
2:45 pm: We’ll all re-convene at the Fashion Museum, situated in the same space as the Assembly Rooms where – in Jane Austen’s time -- people danced, gossiped and flirted each evening, You’ll have an audioguide to take you through the exhibits of fashionable dress for men, women and children from the late 16th century to present day.
6:30 pm: We meet for wine, conversation and a little book talk.
9:30 am: We depart for Stonehenge, the mysterious stone circle that dates from about 2500 BC. The walk around the stones allows for both dramatic scenes and closer-up views. (Note that we hope to have a private access after-hours tour, allowing us to be inside the stone circle itself with an expert. But at the time of this writing, the after-hours tour hasn’t been confirmed. We will, however, visit Stonehenge no matter whether it is in the evening or during the day.)
2 pm: We drive to Avebury, the largest stone circle in Britain; it entirely encircles the village. Here – unlike at Stonehenge -- you can approach and touch the stones, walk among them, sit in the fields or picnic there like the locals. There’s also a small National Trust property, Avebury Manor, first built in the early 16th century. The formal gardens and topiary were redesigned in the 20th century. There’s also a recently restored chapel in the town.
5:30 pm: Return to Bath in time for dinner. We won’t have a meeting tonight.
Saturday, May 9, 2020
10 am: We depart for our visit to Chavenage, which you may know as “Trenwith,” the home depicted in the Poldark TV series. The house dates from 1576, and was once owned by Thomas Seymour, the man who married King Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr, after Henry died. The bedroom used by Oliver Cromwell has been retained in the state he left it since the 17th century; it’s said to be haunted. Our tour will most likely be conducted by a member of the family who still occupy the house. Afterwards, we’ll have tea in the house before returning to Bath.
Your last afternoon in Bath is free for you to explore on your own. You might want to walk across the famous Pulteney Bridge to the Sydney Gardens, where Jane Austen loved to stroll. You can also visit the eccentric Holburne Museum there. Or just enjoy the shops in Margaret’s Building, a short and historic street near the Royal Crescent.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
Itinerary: Optional Extension to Oxford, May 10 - May 12, 2020
Sunday, May 10, 2020
10 am: We check out of the hotel and board our transport to Oxford. On the way, we’ll stop at Highclere, made famous as Downton Abbey in the TV series and movie of the same name. We’ll have a light lunch on the property, a tour of the house, and time to walk through the gardens and – of course – visit the gift shop.
3 pm: We leave Highclere to continue on to Oxford, where we’ll settle into our hotel, the Mercure Eastgate, located right next to several of the Oxford colleges and the Botanic Gardens.
10 am: We leave the hotel this morning for our private walking tour of Oxford. We’ll learn about the history of the town and the university, visit a college or two (including one of the dining halls that inspired Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies), see some sites associated with the Morse and Inspector Lewis TV series, and hear some very amusing anecdotes about famous folk who have lived in Oxford over the centuries.
You’ll have the afternoon to explore Oxford on your own. Among your options are visiting the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, the world’s first university museum and the Bodleian, the historic primary research library for the university. We also love to stop in at Blackwell’s bookstore for coffee, or wander through the Botanic Gardens just beyond our hotel. There’s also a lovely country walk through meadows and along a shady river from Christ Church to the Botanic Gardens.
5:30 pm: We gather in hotel to walk to Magdalen College for the six o’clock choral evensong, conducted in the chapel which dates from 1474.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Here’s what’s included:
What’s not included:
Price for the optional extension to Oxford is $2,160. (A minimum of six people is required for the extension)
How to Register for the Trip
Ready to Pack Your Bags?
Click here to reserve your space: https://www.wildblueyondertrips.com/trip-registration
You can reserve your place on the trip with a $600 deposit, payable by check, made out to Wild Blue Yonder (Wild Blue Yonder, 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910). If you’d rather pay with a credit card via PayPal (there’s a 3% surcharge), let us know (email Sheila at SCampbell@wildblueyonder.biz) and we’ll send you a PayPal invoice.
Physical Requirements for This Trip
Although this trip is not strenuous, you will be walking on uneven pavement, rough garden paths and grassy hills. None of the manor houses we visit have lifts; you must be able to climb several flights of stairs, and walk at least a mile on hilly ground without a rest.
Q. What’s it like to travel with Historic Annapolis?
Here’s what some people on our 2018 trip to England said:
“Easiest trip ever. Loved the stay-in-one-place and do day trips mode. Loved the sites selected and the hotel. Leaders and hotel staff and drivers were excellent.”
“I’m so glad to have taken this trip with such wonderful people. I am rarely so comfortable in a group, and this was great. Thank you for a wonderful experience.”
“I enjoyed the camaraderie among all of us…this happens, I think, when everyone feels confident that they are being well cared for by the leaders….everything was planned well and all went smoothly…I felt very secure.”
Q. Who should come on this trip?
Anglophiles, of course. This is a perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.
Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because English hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.
The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group. Our groups are typically 12-16 people and we have two trip leaders.
Q. When is the trip?
The trip begins on Monday, May 4 and ends on Sunday, May 10, 2020 . Since most flights to England are overnight, you’ll probably fly out from your home city on Sunday, May 3, to arrive Monday morning in England.
Q. What flight should I take?
We suggest you fly into Bristol, England, as it is closer to Bath than London Heathrow. At this writing, the airlines that fly from Washington Dulles to Bristol include KLM/Delta through Amsterdam, United Airlines through Brussels, and Aer Lingus/British Airways through Dublin. If you’re staying on for the optional extension to Oxford, you may want to book your return through London Heathrow. British and United fly direct back to Washington Dulles.
We’ll provide you information about how to get to Bath from the airport.
Q. Can I arrive before the trip actually starts?
Certainly. If you’d like us to book you into the hotel a day or two early, just let us know, and you’ll pay the hotel directly.
Q. Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?
We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:
Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing informal groups of travelers for years – often on hiking trips in France, England, Italy and Spain. She’s managed trips for Politics & Prose for six years. She lives in Washington, DC, where she has been a volunteer at the National Gallery of Art for many years. She spends a couple of months a year in Europe, mostly in England, France and Italy.
Barbara Wendell has also traveled extensively and worked and traveled as part of her job as a focus group facilitator. She is very experienced in working with groups. She lives in Annapolis, MD, where she is involved with tourism as a docent and volunteer with Historic Annapolis.
Q. What is the the Hotel Francis like?
It’s a contemporary hotel by Sofitel that has been built in a group of historic town houses. It’s located on the beautiful and quiet Queen Square. Breakfasts are served to order, and the bistro in the hotel is quite nice for a casual dinner. It’s within easy walking distance of every place we visit and many restaurants in Bath.
Yes, free wifi comes with your room.
It’s hard to tell. Spring could be cool and sunny, or cool and rainy, with highs likely in the 50s or 60s. (It was cool and sunny in 2019.) Our advice is to come prepared for just about anything. Bring an umbrella, a jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.
You needn’t dress up for this trip. Wear your most comfortable clothes for walking. Just about every place we go will be casual.
Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. On many days, we’ll be at a property with a café that features local favorites. They’re quite affordable, and you can decide when you want to break for lunch. In both Bath and Oxford, you’ll be able to choose from both casual and nicer dinner places. We often make lunch the biggest meal of the day and eat lighter at night. But you’ll choose where you’ll eat, when and with whom.
Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
We strongly encourage you to buy travel insurance, both for trip cancellation and medical coverage and evacuation. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Also be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely. You generally have to purchase trip insurance at the time you pay your deposit.
Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.
Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, daily public transportation passes, evening social events to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.
Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not mentioned in the itinerary; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.
Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.
Registration and Payment
Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 60 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be made in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.
Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.
We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.
Full final payment is due January 5, 2020.
Cancellations and Refunds
For any cancellations made before April 3, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. No refunds are possible after April 19, as we will have paid our hotel and vendors at that point. Again, we stress: Please buy trip cancellation insurance.
Changes to Your Reservation
If you would like to stay on for longer than the official days of the trip, we will make reservations for you at the hotel. We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation before December 10. After that date, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.
You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip. Your passport must also have at least two blank pages for entry and exit stamps.
Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. This trip requires a reasonable amount of walking – up to a mile, possibly uphill or on uneven pavements or cobblestone streets and streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb several flights of stairs and board buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance for any person with reduced or serious mobility issues; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you, and you will have to incur the costs of their trip, plus taxis or any other special transport you might need. We suggest that if you use a wheelchair, this trip is probably not the right choice for you, as the transport does not accommodate wheelchair use.
If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Should you have to cancel your trip after you have paid in full, we cannot offer refunds other than specified above, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.
Please note: Medicare is not valid outside of the United States.
Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date by December 20, 2019.
The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Historic Annapolis, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.
Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, death, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party, nor for personal accidents.
In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the trip, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release Historic Annapolis, Wild Blue Yonder and their officers, employees, representatives or agents, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this trip, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for this trip, the participant agrees to all of the Terms and Conditions herein.
Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. Should you be removed, you will not be entitled to any refund for unused or missed services or costs incurred as a result of termination of your travel arrangements, including, without limitation, return travel, accommodations, meals and incidentals.
We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.
We love to read books about or set in the areas where we’re traveling. Here are some books you might like to read before you go.
Jane Austen books:
The Vault, by Peter Lovesey
Death in an Elegant City, by Sara Rosett
Black Sheep, by Georgette Heyer
Sarum: The Novel of England, by Edward Rutherford
Stonehenge, A Novel of 2000 BC, by Bernard Cornwald
Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens
The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling, by Henry Fielding
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers
Inspector Morse series, by Colin Dexter
Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, by the Countess of Carnarvon
The University of Oxford: A Brief History, by Laurence Brockliss
Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England, by Amanda Vickery
Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England: How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago, by Roy and Lesley Adkins
The Regency Years, by Robert Morrison
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