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The Plantagenets in England

(Tour code: PLH17) Immerse yourself in the living history of this great dynasty

Trace the legacy of the mighty Plantagenet family through England and discover their turbulent and fascinating past. From The Tower of London and Canterbury Cathedral, we immerse ourselves in the living history of this great dynasty and see the meadow where English democracy was born.

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Tour Highlights
  • The Tower of London
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Canterbury Cathedral
  • Windsor Castle
  • Runnymede
  • Magna Carta cruise
What’s Included (Full details)
  • Standard Class Rail
  • 4* Hotel Accommodation
  • Optional Bag Concierge

Itinerary & Map

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Departure Times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

The Plantagenet Dynasty
Overview

The Plantagenet Dynasty

The Plantagenets were a royal house, whose heritage can be dated back to 12th century Anjou, France. A notoriously bloody family, credited with numerous wars and ruthless tactics in their scramble for power, the Plantagenet line ruled England and France during the medieval era, with many of their battles fought over disputed territories and the rights of lineage.

Despite their murderous reputation, the Plantagenets both inspired and patronised classic works of English literature. No less than three Plantagenet kings leant the poet Geoffrey Chaucer their patronage, and the infamous killing of the Princes in the Tower lives on still in Shakespeare's historical play, Richard III.

Fascination with the lives of this family, known for their in-fighting and manipulative sovereignty continues to this day; their legacy still visible throughout the country, hidden amongst some of England's most treasured historical sites.

Canterbury Cathedral Detail
Day 1

Meet in London

We meet at our St Pancras office in London today before travelling by rail to Canterbury with its stunning Cathedral. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most important seat of the Church of England in the country, that of the Archbishop. The Cathedral is also the infamous site of the demise of Thomas Becket, one of Henry II most trusted chief administrators. The cathedral's history begins in 597, the year it was founded.

As the influence of Christianity began to take hold in the Roman Empire the church's influence grew, leading to the announcement of its first bishop, Augustine of Canterbury, the former abbot of St Andrew's Benedictine Abbey in Rome. During the Anglo-Saxon era the Venerable Bede recorded that Augustine reused the former Roman church at Canterbury, the building began to grow and thrived until Danish raids in Canterbury badly damaged the cathedral in 1011.

A year after the Norman Conquest the cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1067. It was subsequently rebuilt by a Norman archbishop, Lanfranc. After the foundation of other dioceses in England he was raised to arch-bishop, hereafter the Plantagenets came to power, leading to the infamous murder of Thomas Becket.We take a guided tour of the cathedral before enjoying some free time to explore the area at leisure, be sure to wander into Canterbury itself, this historic city is a delight to discover, the UNESCO award also covers the city, not the cathedral alone.

Includes:
  • Dinner
Tower of London
Day 2

The Tower of London

Today we travel by coach to the Tower of London and take a guided tour. The Tower exhibits much to do with the Plantagenet Kings. The Tower itself was improved and extended by Henry II, and Edward I was responsible for bringing the mint into the Tower, as we see in the exhibition on Plantagenet economy.

Built in 1066 after William the Conqueror's victory at Hastings, the UNESCO-listed fortress has played a prominent role in the country's history ever since, with many vital power struggles amongst the ruling classes taking place here. We also see the sparkling Crown Jewels, before enjoying free time in the castle and its grounds. Having served as both a palace and a prison, there are many interesting things to be discovered, from the 13th century royal chambers to the story of its final prisoners the Kray twins, who were detained here in 1952.

We then visit Westminster Abbey, accompanied by our private Tour Guide. The Abbey is the burial sites of many Plantagenet rulers. As the traditional burial and coronation site of British and English monarchs, the abbey has played an important role for Christianity in England and is one of the UK's most recognisable religious buildings. It was reportedly founded in the 970s, though no concrete date has been agreed upon by historians.

The fable of the abbeys beginning says that a young fisherman called Aldrich on the River Thames saw a vision of St Peter near the site, and in later years apparently explains the gifts of salmon that fishermen would bring when they came to the abbey. We enjoy a guided tour of the Abbey.

You are free to explore London in the afternoon so perhaps you'd like to visit one of the capital's many fantastic museums and galleries.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Windsor Castle
Day 3

Windsor Castle & Runnymede

Accompanied by our Guest Speaker, we travel by rail to Windsor and enjoy a tour of Windsor Castle, an important place of the Plantagenets that became entwined into their history. Henry built extensively at the castle between 1165 and 1179. In 1215, King John found himself held in the castle by England's barons, who were demanding he sign the Magna Carta, a declaration of peace and an important document in the history of British politics. John reneged on his original promise to sign and as a consequence the infuriated Barons attacked Windsor Castle. The castle was originally built to protect the dominant Norman regime around the outskirts of London and guard part of the River Thames that was considered to be strategically important. The initial construction was composed of a motte-and-bailey style build. The wooden structure was replaced over time with stone and testament to its sturdy design it withstood a prolonged siege in the First Barons' War at the beginning of the 13th century. Today the castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world with more than 500 people living and working on it's premises. We take a short stroll to the castle pier where we board a relaxing cruise to the Magna Carta Memorial at Runnymede, the meadow where the document was eventually sealed by King John in 1215. The memorial is situated in a grassed enclosure on the slopes of Cooper's Hill, a classical monument with a pillar of English granite that holds the inscription: "To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of freedom under law." The memorial was built in 1957. We enjoy a delicious traditional afternoon cream tea whilst on board the steam boat, which also includes an informative commentary from our expert speaker.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Homeward Bound
Day 4

Departure

You are free to leave after breakfast at your leisure.

Includes:
  • Breakfast
Mark Ormrod
Guest Speaker

Mark Ormrod

Mark Ormrod is a Professor in the Department of History and Academic Co-ordinator for the Arts and Humanities at the University of York. He specialises in political structures and ideas of later medieval England, he is also a trustee of the Richard III and Yorkist History Trust. Mark is a former editor of York Medieval Press and a member of the editorial board of the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.

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