One of the leading historians of his generation, David Starkey is a respected author and broadcaster. He specialised in Tudor history at Cambridge and lectured for 25 years at the London School of Economics. He has written numerous works on British history, covering periods from the Magna Carta to the present day. His landmark television series include Elizabeth (2000), Monarchy (2004-7), The Churchills (2012) and Reformation: Europe's Holy War (2017). Often outspoken and unafraid to voice his opinions, David is also an accomplished public speaker.
Country houses fit for a king with David Starkey
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Magnificent houses rich with royal history dot the midland counties. Elizabeth I's courtier William Cecil spent a fortune on the architectural treasure that is Burghley House. Sir Christopher Hatton, one of the monarch's 'comely young men', built Holdenby House just to impress her.
These are just two of the houses that your tour will visit, with a private dinner and a talk by the celebrated historian David Starkey at Holdenby House. Explore Elton House (May departure only), with its 15th-century tower built during the reign of Henry VII, Tudor and Georgian family mansion Deene Park (September departure only), the 17th-century jewel Belton House, and Grimsthorpe Castle, whose previous owners include Charles Brandon, Henry VIII's brother-in-law.
Meet David Starkey
The brilliant historian, author and broadcaster will join you at Holdenby House in Northamptonshire for a wonderful evening in a historic home that was once one of the great houses of Elizabethan England. After a tour of the house and a welcome drink, David Starkey will give a lecture on the rich history of the stately homes that you will see on your visit to this remarkable part of the English countryside. There will be an opportunity to pose your own questions after the talk.
The treasures you will visit include the lofty arcades of the hall at Grimsthorpe, designed by the architect and dramatist John Vanbrugh; the baroque suite at Burghley House, with carvings by Grinling Gibbons, master carver to Charles II; and the great staircase and tapestry room at Belton House.
Private dinner at Holdenby House
Another highlight is the elegant dining room at Holdenby House. Adorned with opulent silk wall hangings, the room hosts two renowned portraits of Charles I including Clouded Majesty, a much remarked upon portrait of Charles I and his son. You will hear David Starkey's fascinating insights during a private talk, before a delicious dinner in this sumptuous setting.
The wealthy owners of these houses amassed remarkable collections of portraits and landscapes, including the painting of Dedham Vale by John Constable at Elton Hall.
"The tour takes you to some of England's largest, grandest and most beautiful country houses. They're palaces really - except that they're not built by kings but for kings by their favourites and courtiers who fill them with the choicest furniture, pictures and tapestries and surround them with exquisite gardens and rolling parks. I'm looking forward to joining you and being royally entertained myself!"
- David Starkey
Reasons to book
Special appearance by David Starkey
Magnificent stately homes
Your expert guides
- Exclusive talk and Q&A with David Starkey
- Three nights' accommodation
- All visits and tours as detailed
- Breakfast every day
- Meals as detailed, including dinner at Holdenby House and two dinners at Barnsdale Lodge
- Dedicated Travel Editions tour manager
Day1Arrive at Barnsdale LodgeOakham, United Kingdom
You'll arrive at Barnsdale Lodge, on the shore of Rutland Water, near the English market town of Oakham, in Rutland, where you'll be staying for the next three nights. On arrival you will have time to settle in before enjoying afternoon tea and a talk from our country house and antiques expert, Nicholas Merchant, followed by a delicious welcome drink and dinner with wine.
Day2Elton Hall or Deene Park and Holdenby HouseElton, United Kingdom
After breakfast, enjoy a private visit to Elton Hall in Cambridgeshire (May departure) or Deene Park (September departure).
Elton Hall is a fine Restoration-era house, which incorporates elements of the original baronial hall built at the time of Henry VII, then added to in the 17th century by the former Lord Mayor of London Sir Peter Proby, on land leased by Elizabeth I. You will also be able to explore the medieval chapel and gatehouse and admire the 18th-century Gothic alterations. The remarkable art collection includes works by notable artists including Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable and Joshua Reynolds, as well as the pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.
Deene Park is an interesting house occupied by the Brudenell family since 1514. The family developed Deene Park from a medieval manor house into the Tudor and Georgian mansion you see today, and it very much remains a family home.
The afternoon is free to relax before you leave for Holdenby House in Northamptonshire for a tour, welcome drink, and a lecture from historian David Starkey with Q&A, followed by dinner with wine. Holdenby House was originally a "prodigy house" - built to impress Queen Elizabeth - and considered by some to have been the greatest palace of Elizabethan England, later owned by James I. It was where Charles I was imprisoned after the English Civil War. This is the perfect house to feel history all around you, and to hear from one of the leading historians of our age.
Day3Burghley HousePeterborough, United Kingdom
Today, you will make a full day visit to magnificent Burghley House in Cambridgeshire, a contemporary rival to Holdenby House, that is now even more extensively preserved, with rich state apartments and an art collection that includes famous portraits of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell. On arrival, there will be lunch and a welcome talk from knowledgeable curator Jon Culverhouse. Afterwards, there will be time to explore the house, which was originally built in the shape of a letter E to represent Queen Elizabeth, including the wonderful chapel with its altarpiece painted by Veronese and the beautiful grounds. Following your visit, you will enjoy a delicious dinner at Barnsdale Lodge.
Day4Grimsthorpe Castle and Belton HouseGrantham, United Kingdom
After breakfast this morning, you will go on a morning visit to Grimsthorpe Castle, which retains elements of a 12th-century castle, that once belonged to a prominent supporter of Richard III during the Wars of the Roses. After your visit, a short road trip will take you to wonderful Belton House in Lincolnshire, one of the most attractive Restoration houses of the period which is filled with treasures such as its beautiful Chinese wallpaper, renowned lapis lazuli cabinet and rare, late 18th-century black-ground Sévres porcelain. It was built on the site of an earlier manor house. After a chance to explore the Belton and its wonderful gardens at your leisure, you will return to the hotel for about 5pm, where your tour will end.
Barnsdale Lodge Hotel
Steeped in over 250 years of history, Barnsdale Lodge Hotel offers a taste of country living in the heart of beautiful Rutland
Barnsdale Lodge's charming, individually-furnished rooms, suites and retreats overlook the beautiful Rutland landscape or the picturesque hotel courtyard, and the kitchen uses ingredients sourced from the wealth of fine produce found in the area, and from their own vegetable and herb gardens.
Encircled by idyllic surroundings on the north shore of Rutland Water, the hotel is the perfect place for a relaxing break in the heart of the rolling English countryside. The charming market towns of Oakham and Uppingham are also nearby.
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