Trip reference number: 1526
Trip Operator: Peter Sommer Travels
Wessex: close to our home base, and close to our hearts. We invite you to join us and see why - in this tour of a beautiful region of England, which perfectly encapsulates the history and culture of the country. From the ancient chalk downlands of Wiltshire, through the lush tree-clad hills and combes of Gloucestershire to the misty beauty of the Somerset Levels, this is the England of the mind's eye. We will take you to dramatic cathedrals with soaring spires, serene abbeys, elegant Roman villas and into the deep past of Stone Age England, where it all began.
All of England's history can be seen in this region replete with World Heritage Sites. We begin with the truly ancient landscape of Wiltshire, which still feels indefinably old, even to those familiar with the ancient world. Through encounters with ridge-top sepulchres, the awe-inspiring great stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury and the strange wonder of Silbury Hill, you will see how humanity passed from the Mesolithic and embedded itself in the landscape in the Neolithic, one of the most dramatic eras in England's history, and nowhere seen better than here. The depth of our story can be appreciated when even the Celts and Romans arrive only at its middle. Once more, this tour introduces you to some of their finest sites and traces, from the fine mosaics of Britain's second largest Roman town, through the richly decorated and comfortably heated villa at Chedworth to the pious melding of Roman and British religion in the hot springs of the great shrine at Bath with its strange gorgon-like sculpture.
The castles and holy places of the Middle Ages, and the new Kingdom of England, come into view next. We see the powerful castles of the Marcher Lords at Berkeley, meet saints and see a powerful prelate cast down at Old Sarum, and admire the delicate beauty of Salisbury Cathedral, its renowned spire reaching up in adulation to Heaven.
Finally, we come to the periods of turbulence and transformation that made our own world as the old religion is broken. At Glastonbury we see a beautiful monastery suppressed, leaving romantic ruins and enduring myth. We see the varying fortunes of the great families, as some fall in Civil War and others prosper and build great country houses, ready to enter the refined and genteel world of Georgian elegance and high society in the respectable, elevated beauty of Bath.
All of this accompanied by some fine dining, visits to traditional English pubs, locally brewed ales and ciders and tastes of some of the world famous specialities of the region. At night we stay firstly in a beautiful Italianate-style Victorian country house set in wonderful gardens in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside before heading to Bath and an elegant mansion house hotel on the edge of one of the city centre parks and only minutes away from some of Bath's most famous sights.
From green fields with enigmatic henges, outposts of Roman civilisation in wooded valleys, emblems of Norman power and Georgian taste, there is no finer place to begin your exploration of England's long and inspiring history.
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