Suggested Tour Itinerary

Each of my tours is custom made, and can be some or all of the Jane Austen sights below and can be extended to include other places you may wish to see.
If we start or finish at Heathrow or Gatwick airport, greeting and transfer are no extra charge. Pick-ups can be from London hotels, or you can take the mainline train from Waterloo to Surbiton station, to avoid the traffic.
If you would like to see an itinerary for previous clients, send me details of what you would like to include and I will send you the itinerary closest to your wishes.
The Jane Austen tour is just as enjoyable in winter as in season.

The main Jane Austen sights and Bath can be seen in a 2 day tour, staying 1 night in Bath.

Here is a more extended suggested tour.


Day 1
Pick-up as agreed and drive down the M3 past Basingstoke to the old London Road, where we can see The Wheatsheaf, the coaching inn where Jane sent and received letters. We can go inside the old part of the building to see the low ceilings and original beams and fireplace.
Turning North on small lanes we go through North Waltham past its church built of local flintstones to Steventon. In this spreadout village the church is up a dead-end narrow road. Here we walk in the churchyard and see the field where the rectory and smallholding were.
The 600 year old church is simple outside and also inside, with some medieval painting on the walls. Inside you can sign the visitors book and buy postcards.
From here we go to the village of Ashe, to see the house where Jane's friends the Lefroys lived, and from the farmyard the circular pond that is the source of the River Test. We follow this on little roads through pretty villages of old thached cottages, and there is plenty of time to stop and take photos, and walk on a wooden bridge over the streams of the river. Remember to bring bread to feed the trout and ducks.
The riverside pub The Mayfly is a good stop for lunch. We follow the river as far as the market town of Stockbridge, from where we go cross-country to the main road to Bath. This goes past Stonehenge for a possible visit.
From here it is about a 1 hour drive into Bath. Here we often stay at Marlborough House, a delightful guest house described in the Bath page of this site; town centre hotels and country house style hotels are also available.
It is possible to see the main sights in the remaining afternoon, but this suggested tour spends a day in Bath. Overnight as above, with dinner in the town. If you are coming in season at a week-end a reservation is advisable.

Day 2
Starting in the van, we drive to the top of the town to park and see the Royal Crescent and Victoria Park with it's ha-ha to keep stock at bay. No. 1 is a museum of life in the mid 1700's upstairs and downstairs, a very interesting visit.
It is s short walk to The Circus, with house fronts of the 3 classical columns and Freemason's symbols. Beyond it are the Assembly Rooms, which can be visited for free but subject to closure for functions. There is the huge ballroom which held dances for over a thousand guests. There is also the octagonal card room, and a large tea room. They are lit by large chandeliers, 5 in the ballroom 3 in the tea room and 1 in the card room. They are the finest in the country.
We go down Gay Street past the house where the Austen's had a floor after the father died, and the Jane Austen Centre which you can visit later on your own. We come into Queen Square. This was the first open square built in this country, after designers came back from the Grand Tour inspired by classical architecture in Italy. So it is the forerunner of all the squares in London.
From here we drive round the outskirts of the City, to see Green Park Buildings where Jane's father died. We cross the river Avon south and park to walk to see Sydney Place where the Austen's rented No. 4 for 3 years. We walk up Sydney Gardens to see the railway and canal coming into Bath, to discuss their importance. There is a pretty walk along the canal towpath.
Returning to Henretta Park, we walk along Great Poultney Street and cross the river north over the Italianate Poultney bridge designed by Robert Adam, with its boutique shops. There are great views of the river and its curved weir, and the adjacent Parade Gardens.
Opposite is The Market, which we walk through to discuss its importance for fresh produce in past times. Opposite the Town Hall is the pedestrianised area fronting the Abbey which you visit later, and the Pump Rooms and entrance to the Roman Baths. In the afternoon you can visit the Baths on your own and have tea in the Pump Rooms while a trio plays.
The main Bath is the King & Queen baths, and we walk down a colonnaded street to the small Cross Bath, and the Hot Bath, now re-built as an aqua treatment centre with an open hot pool on the roof. A short walk takes us to the area around the pretty Royal Theatre, and close-by is Trim Street, where the 3 Austen ladies lived in just 1 room, but we don't know in which house.
You are now on your own to explore Bath, including the places mentioned above. In addition my 50 page booklet of JA research has a map of over 50 places in Bath relating to Jane Austen's life there and the setting of her Bath novels. Enjoy!
Overnight as above and dinner in the City.

Day 3
Collect from hotel and drive South out of Bath. We can go down the Chedder Gorge, cliffs up to 400 foot high, and on to Wells to see the magnificent cathedral. The route takes us over the flat Somerset Levels through the mystical Glastonbury and the famous Tor with a tower atop. Cross-country roads take us through Crewekerne to the coast at Lyme Regis. Here we park to walk along the pretty seafront and on the Cobb, and have lunch.
The afternoon is a scenic drive past Poole Harbour and through the New Forest on to Southampton overnight. Here we can walk along the old sea walls where in Jane Austen's time the sea came up at high tide, and the square which was the site of her brothers house. A walk takes us into town through the ancient Bargate, and we see the old coaching inns, The Star and The Dolphin. It was in the Dolphin that Jane went to dances in the first floor ballroom. At the time of writing, (Jan 2010) the hotel has closed and is waiting a buyer and refurbishment, but your itinerary booklet that I produce for each tour will have pictures of the front of the hotel with its large unsupported bay windows and the Ballroom on the first floor. N.B. U S residents note, the street level is the Ground floor so the First floor is the one above.
There are plenty of hotels including a Premier Inn close to the centre, and dinner in the town.

Day 4
Collect from hotel for short drive inland to Winchester. Here we can park by the Cathedral, to visit it and see the grave and plaque on the wall. Walking through the interesting cathedral close, we go out of an ancient gate to see the Headmaster's House of Winchester College, and to its right the house (private) where Jane died on the 18th July, 3 days after St Swithun's Day, about which she wrote her last poem. There are lots of interesting places to see in the town, especially the Great Hall at the top of the town.

The drive to Chawton is less than half an hour, and we can see this single street village of thached cottages from mid 1500's, Chawton House (private) and the church in the driveway with her mother's and Casandra's graves.
The Jane Austen House is on the village corner and a visit takes a good hour as everything is carefully annotated, as is the small garden. For many clients it is this simple house that most brings Jane's time to life. If we didn't have lunch in Winchester, the Greyfriar pub is good for a light snack.
If it is in season, there should be time to go past Basingstoke to visit The Vyne, before returning to London or the airport.

A 2 day tour would see the Wheatsheaf, Steventon, Bath sights, O/N in Bath, Southampton, Winchester and Chawton.
I hope you will take a Jane Austen tour with me!

Julian

 

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