Fri, July 6: Depart Indianapolis on an overnight flight to London, England.
Sat, July 7: Arrive in London and transfer to Oxfordshire to tour Blenheim Palace, home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Blenheim Palace is a true masterpiece of 18th Century Baroque architecture and a World Heritage Site. Continue to the town of Oxford to check in to your hotel for the next five nights. (Meal: Lunch)
Sun, July 8: Spend the day in Bath, a city so beautiful and special that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Start with a walking tour of central Bath to learn about its famous residents and see the main attractions such as Bath Abbey, Royal Crescent, Roman Baths and many more. Around Britain's only hot springs, the Romans built the finest religious spa in northern Europe. This great temple and bathing complex still flows with natural hot water. The extensive remains and a Roman museum of international significance lie beneath the Pump Room and Abbey Church Yard. Situated in an original Georgian Townhouse, the Jane Austen Centre tells the story of Jane’s time in Bath and the effect that living here had on her and her writing. You have the rest of the afternoon free to explore at leisure. Return to Oxford for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
Mon, July 9: Locations within the Oxfordshire Cotswolds were featured prominently in Downton Abbey and today’s first stop is Cogges, a 13th-century manor house and now a heritage site. Its historic farm buildings were used for the fictional Yew Tree Farm, which was home to the tenant farmer Mr. Drewe, and where Marigold, Lady Edith’s daughter, lived. Travel on to the beautiful village of Swinbrook where Lady Sybil and the family's chauffeur, Branson, eloped. Continue to the picturesque village of Shilton and learn how the Old Forge was transformed into The Red Lion public house, where Mr. Bates went to work after he left Downton Abbey. Across the Shill brook is a very pretty 18th-century stone hump-backed bridge which was also featured. Drive through Bampton, a village and civil parish where most of the series’ outdoor scenes were filmed. True fans will surely recognize the Crawley’s house exterior, St. Mary’s Church and the library, which served as the entrance to the cottage hospital. (B,L)
Tue, July 10: Take a guided walking tour of Oxford, famous throughout the world for its University and place in history. For over 800 years, it has been a home to royalty, scholars and writers. Visit Christ Church College, one of the largest in the University of Oxford and inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Scenes from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter films were shot here, and you will visit the dining hall (the dining room at Hogwart’s) and drop into the Eagle & Child Pub where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis regularly met and read passages from their books. (B,L)
Wed, July 11: Spend the morning at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, and see several of the rooms used in filming the series. Move at your own pace, engaging with guides situated in the main State Rooms. Ascend the red stairs to view some of the bedrooms and the gallery before walking down the oak staircase to the magnificent public main hall, the saloon and the library. Complete your visit with a stroll through the castle's decorative gardens and surrounding woodlands. In the afternoon, visit Greys Court, a picturesque 16th-century mansion with tranquil gardens. This is the home where the Crawley's would have moved should they have become bankrupt. (B,D)
Thu, July 12: Check out of the hotel and travel to Basildon Park, whose interiors were used as the Crawley family’s London residence, Grantham House. The elegant Georgian mansion was at the heart of Lady Rose and Atticus Aldridges' wedding. Continue to West Wycombe Park, one of the most theatrical and Italianate of all English country houses, and the Dashwood family home for over 300 years (and inspiration for Jane Austen’s Dashwood sisters). The interior of the house was featured regularly as Lady Rosamund’s London home. Conclude the day in London and check in to your hotel for three nights. (B,L)
Fri, July 13: Take a guided tour of London, starting with St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most prominent of London's landmarks standing near the River Thames. Visitors can climb to the top of the dome and test the acoustics in the Whispering Gallery. Continue with a visit to Westminster Abbey—which has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066—and has been used for numerous other royal occasions including the funeral of Princess Diana. Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea. (B,L)
Sat, July 14: Today is yours to experience aspects of London that most appeal to you. You may want to visit the Tower of London and glimpse the crown jewels, wander the world's largest antiques market along Portobello Road or peruse modern art at the Tate. Enjoy a Farewell Dinner with the group in a local restaurant. (B,D)
Sun, July 15: Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford.
Located in heart of the world-famous University City of Oxford, the hotel is a landmark building with elegance and charm aplenty and has played host to prime ministers and presidents. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • A/C • complimentary WIFI Internet throughout • 1 restaurant • 3bars • fitness center • spa.
The Tower Hotel, London.
Nestled between the River Thames, St Katharine Docks and alongside the World Heritage Site, the Tower of London, the hotel boasts unparalleled views of the iconic Tower Bridge. The convenient location in the center of the city and a short walk to the Tower Hill Underground Station makes it easy to experience the best of London at your leisure. Highlights: in-room coffee/tea maker • A/C • complimentary WIFI Internet throughout • 2 restaurants/bar • fitness center.