DAY ONE – TUESDAY
Arrival in London
Transfer to Radisson Blu Hotel, Stansted Airport, for afternoon check in. Dinner in the hotel, followed by group meeting for an initial briefing.
DAY TWO – WEDNESDAY
Tilbury Juxta Clare – Castle Hedingham
Visit the pretty church of St Margaret in the village of ‘TJC’ as it is known. It contains a brick tower built by Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, in 1519. Horatio de Vere, the head of the Netherlands struggle against Spain, lived in Tilbury Hall, situated nearby. Continue to Castle Hedingham (historical Hengam ad Castrum). This was the stronghold of the de Veres for over 600 years, from Norman times to the death of the 20th Earl, Aubrey de Vere, in 1703. There will be a guided tour of the magnificent Norman keep. A few important dates in its history are:
1550 – Edward de Vere was born here.
1561 – Queen Elizabeth I and her court visited here as the guest of Edward’s father, the 16th Earl.
Afterwards, we have a picnic lunch in the grounds of the Castle. Then, we wander down to the Norman Church of St Nicholas. Local links to the works of Shakespeare. The Alabaster tomb of the 15th Earl, John, and his second wife – their effigies cut in alabaster. The hounds of Actaeon, are named from the woods and fields around Hedingham. The soldiers, Francisco and Horatio (Hamlet) were first cousins of Edward de Vere, and lived in the parish. Time at leisure in the village and castle grounds, before returning to our hotel. Dinner at our own choice tonight.
DAY THREE – THURSDAY
Great Canfield Castle – Hatfield Hall
Our first visit today is to Great Canfield Castle, surrendered by Aubrey, the 1st Earl of Oxford, and regained, when Robert, the 3rd Earl, bestowed the throne of England on King Louis of France. Shakespeare includes the event in ‘King John’. Edward de Vere sold the Castle in 1585. After a stop in a country pub for lunch (at our own expense), we drive to Hatfield House, built after Edward’s death by his brother-in-law Robert Cecil. Queen Elizabeth grew up here until she left for London for her Coronation in 1559, escorted by Edward’s father, the 16th Earl. At Hatfield House we can see a number of documents and papers, concerning Edward de Vere. Return to our hotel where we have dinner together, and reflect on the first two days of our de Vere Trail.
DAY FOUR – FRIDAY
London – Westminster Abbey
After breakfast, we walk to the train station near to our hotel to take the fast train to London. On arrival in London, we travel by London Underground to Westminster Station, from where we walk to Westminster Abbey. Here, we will be received by one of the Canons, and be given a guided tour to include places that are not usually accessible to the public, that have relevance to the de Vere family history and lineage. Amongst the places we will see are: The Great Altar, where Edward de Vere was married to Anne Cecil in 1571, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I. The chapels of St John the Evangelist, St Michael and St Andrew. The chapel of St John the Baptist, where the bodies of Henry de Vere (18th Earl) and Sir Francis de Vere were placed. The Chapel of St Nicholas, containing the Burleigh Monument. You may wish to return to the Abbey for vespers. There will be the opportunity for those who wish to see a play (possibly at the Globe, or National Theatre) and return to Stansted in their own time this evening.
DAY FIVE – SATURDAY
Lavenham – Wyvenhoe – Colchester
Our first visit is to one of the most charming and beautifully preserved small towns in the East of England, Lavenham, which flourished as a great wool trading town, when the de Veres were at the height of their fame. Edward de Vere welcomed Queen Elizabeth here on her visit in 1578. We visit the church of St Peter and Paul, and the Guildhall. We visit the Swan Hotel for morning coffee. Continue to Colchester, the oldest town in Britain (recognised as Camelot in ‘King Lear’). The castle which we visit, was owned by the de Vere family up until the time of Aubrey, the 20th Earl. Henry VIII reconfirmed the ownership to the 15th Earl of Oxford, and this passed to the 16th Earl and his son Edward, whose Cymbeline is named after Cunobeline, the British King of Colchester. Our final journey today is to the nearby port of Wyvenhoe, which was a favourite retreat for the de Vere family who had a large timber-built house here. We walk along the waterfront and visit the Parish church of St Mary where Lord William Beaumont, a companion-in-arms of the 13th Earl of Oxford at the battle of Bosworth, lies along with Elizabeth, his wife. Her family name, Scrope, was used in the plays of Henry V, Henry IV and Richard II, all ascribed to Shakespeare. Return to our hotel for dinner together.
DAY SIX – SUNDAY
This morning we take the train to Cambridge, where we visit St John’s college, where Edward de Vere received his degree in 1564 at the age of fourteen, from Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Cambridge. We will be hosted at Cambridge by England’s De Vere Society, and we will hear presentations on the Shakespeare authorship question by members of the tour group. Afterward, we will gather for food and drink at a nearby Cambridge pub.
DAY SEVEN – MONDAY
Bures and Earls Colne
In the morning we visit St. Stephen’s Chapel in Bures, then depart for Stoke-by-Nayland, a picturesque village on the Essex border, in what is referred to as Constable country, as immortalized by the great English painter John Constable, over 200 years ago. On our drive back to our hotel, we call in at the picturesque village of Earls Colne, where for several centuries, the de Veres were laid to rest in the Benedictine Priory, destroyed on the order of Henry VIII. Here, we visit the 14th century parish church which displays the de Vere star, and has pews with Earls of Oxford symbols. Return to our hotel in the early evening, which will be free for us to meet at the bar, or have dinner together if we wish.
DAY EIGHT – TUESDAY
After breakfast, we make our farewells and go on our various ways.
Add-on: 25th – 28th June
Depart Radisson Blu Hotel, Stansted. Drive to the Georgian town of Stamford, featured in the BBC adaption of Middlemarch, and visit Burleigh House, now owned by the Marquess of Exeter, who is descended from Thomas, the oldest son of William Cecil, the first Baron Burghley, who was Queen Elizabeth’s Lord High Treasurer. Elizabeth was reputedly very impressed with Burghley’s financial acumen and skill at having built this great house, when she visited it at his invitation. Afterwards, we check into our hotel in this fascinating town, and also have the opportunity to visit Burghley’s tomb which is in St Martin’s Church in Stamford. We will have dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY NiNE – WEDNESDAY
Bosworth Battlefield – Bilton Hall – Warwick Castle – Cirencester
Drive north-eastward from Stamford to the site of Bosworth Battlefield, where Richard 3rd was defeated by Henry Tudor. Continue past Bilton Hall, near Rugby, originally owned by the Trussell family, whose Elizabeth married the 15th Earl of Oxford. It has been suggested that Jack of Rugby in the Merry Wives is actually John de Vere, the 15th Earl. On to Warwick Castle, a medieval castle built by William the Conqueror, and used as a fortification right up to the 17th Century. It is referred to in Shakespeare, and was the venue in 1572 for a show put on for Queen Elizabeth by the 17th Earl of Oxford. This afternoon, we drive south-westward through the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds, to the town of Cirencester, where we overnight.
DAY TEN – THURSDAY
Salisbury – Wilton House
Continue our drive southward to Salisbury, and Wilton House, which we visit. Philip, Earl of Montgomery, whose home it was in the 17th Century, had children by Oxford’s, Susan de Vere. Wonderful Van Dyke portraits adorn the house, including both Philip, as well as Henry, the 18th Earl of Oxford. After our visit to the house, we will have some time in the Cathedral town of Salisbury, before driving eastward to overnight in West London, near to Hampton Court.
DAY ELEVEN – FRIDAY
Hampton Court – London
The final visit of our tour will be to Hampton Court, where we will seek permission to see the impossible, to see the portrait of Shakespeare’, or is it of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford? Afterwards, transport will be provided to Heathrow Airport, or to London for those wishing to spend a little more time in England.
Travel Dates and Cost:
18th June 2013 – 25th June 2013
18th June 2013 – 28th June 2013