Standard Classic Itinerary, Including Downton Abbey
Sunday, Day 1 - Hampton Court Palace
Guests are met at the Stafford Hotel in central London (other locations available for private charter bookings) for afternoon English Cream Tea, before being transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Magna Carta. Champagne reception and welcome by the Captain and crew. Dinner on board.
Monday, Day 2 - Hampton Court Palace to Runnymede
This morning we explore the magnificent Hampton Court Palace. We tour Henry VIII’s apartments and the Royal Chapel, feel the chill in the haunted gallery and wonder at the Tudor kitchens. Outside, the gardens are breathtaking with The Great Vine, the oldest in the country still producing grapes and the famous maze. After lunch, we cruise through Molesey Lock and moor at Runnymede. Dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 - Runnymede to Windsor
After breakfast, we have the option to use the spa facilities of the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel. Then we cruise to Windsor, past the Magna Carta Memorial and Magna Carta Island, where in 1215, King John was forced to meet the powerful barons and seal the historic document. Our afternoon excursion is to Windsor Castle. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066 and a royal home 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, St George’s Chapel and enjoy the far-reaching views. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 - Windsor to Cliveden
This morning, we cruise upstream past the fabulous waterside houses of Bray and through the spectacular Cliveden Reach to our exclusive mooring on the Cliveden estate. Cliveden was once owned by the Astor family, though the original house dates back to 1666. The property has glorious gardens that include a Parterre, Chinese water garden and wonderful topiary and was, of course, the scene of much political intrigue and scandal. Dinner on board.
Thursday, Day 5 - Cliveden to Hurley
After breakfast we drive to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), one of England's most beautiful Victorian castles set amidst 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland. The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and the current castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which in turn was built on the foundations of the medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years. A longstanding friend of the Carnarvon family, Julian Fellowes had Highclere Castle in mind as he wrote "Downton Abbey". He often commented he wanted a house which spectacularly testified to the confidence and soaring optimism of the Edwardian period. After lunch, we cruise further upstream to visit the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham and take a walk around the village he once described as "Heaven on Earth", before cruising through Marlow to Hurley. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 - Hurley to Henley-on-Thames and Oxford
This morning we tour Peter Freebody's boatyard nearby and watch in wonder as the traditional craftsmen at work, build and restore classic wooden craft. We have time to explore the ancient village, including Ye Olde Bell, reputed to be the oldest inn in the country, before returning to the barge and cruising through fabulous countryside to our final mooring along the famous Henley Regatta Rowing Course. Then, an earlier lunch, followed by a drive to Oxford for a fascinating tour of Christ Church, Oxford's grandest college, founded by Cardinal Wolsey and then again by King Henry VIII. The magnificent surroundings were also where Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Saturday, Day 7 - Henley-on-Thames
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to central London (other locations available for private charter bookings).
NOTE: On alternate weeks, cruise will be in reverse direction. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. Designated meeting and drop off point is The Stafford Hotel in central London. Other options are available for charter groups