Duration: 10 hours departing from central London.
A day out to the heart of England – the dreaming spires of Oxford and the picture-perfect Cotswolds villages.
For hundreds of years, the University of Oxford has produced the world’s leading thinkers, writers, poets, soldiers and scientists.
We’ll begin our tour in a side street next to a real tennis court, right by some of the oldest medieval colleges in the city. From here we’ll visit the cathedral and Christ Church college (if they are accessible on the day). For over 750 years, the great and the good (and not so good) have graced and disgraced the colleges and halls here in this gorgeous city, whose very walls resonate with centuries of history: Prime Ministers, US Presidents and other world leaders as well as military heroes, sportsmen and women, poets, writers and colourful rogues!
But there’s more to Oxford than the University. Over the centuries this picturesque city has also been a place of rebellion and riots, governments in exile – and a major manufacturing centre too. Not too far from here is the Cowley plant where Austin Powers vehicle of choice the Mini is still made to this day – ooh, behave!
Oxford really is a great place to soak up the atmosphere of an English University city: you can almost see the history oozing out of the honey-coloured stone that makes this city of dreaming spires so famous.
Lunch beckons as we head off to the Cotswolds, an area of England that was recently designated a national park for its stunning scenery and gentle pastoral hills dotted with pretty stone cottages. Enjoy lunch at ‘The Swan’ pub frequented by former Prime Minister David Cameron, where he has been photographed took world leaders for a pint. The pub was formerly owned by one of the Mitford sisters, scion of the Earls of Redesdale and a huge fan of Elvis Presley.
As lunch settles, it’s time to move on and discover the thatched cottages and the ruined mediaeval hall of Minster Lovell, where a gruesome tale awaits you – be prepared!
A few miles on is Burford, often described as the loveliest town in the Cotswolds. It’s a sentiment that might not have been shared by the Levellers during the 1650s, though – these were rank and file recruits in Parliament’s army who were put up against the church wall and shot for their refusal to fight in Ireland – the musket bullet holes can been seen to this day. There’s a poignant reminder of these events inside the church: carved in the lead lining of the Norman font are the words “Anthony Sedler Prisner” (sic).
We go deeper into the Cotswolds and drive past the Cardington air force base, where the largest manned balloon in the world is stationed. If we’re lucky we may get a view of this fantastic beast. We then make our way through the Venice of the Cotswolds: Bourton-on-the-Water, a truly delightful English village. We then travel through the Slaughters – some of the most picturesque villages in England (despite their odd name!). Finally we come to Stow-on-the-Wold –where the wind blows cold! It’s a pretty little town that jostles for the top position in the list of antiques capital of England.
We then make our way back to London via Woodstock: the home of Blenheim Palace and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. We’ll pay homage to the great man at his burial place nearby before heading back to the capital, where we’ll drop you off wherever you want!