Begin Tour of England in Canterbury & Salisbury
Our guide, an expert in Christianity in England, will start our tour of England with the Canterbury Cathedral. It was dedicated to Christ the Savior in 602 by St. Augustine of Canterbury, its first archbishop. Other archbishops of Canterbury who were saints are St. Alphege and St. Anselm. Canterbury is a World Heritage Site and the Franciscan friars arrived here in 1224. Remnants of the original settlement built between 1267 and 1328, subsequently dissolved during the Reformation in 1538, were re-occupied by Anglican Franciscans in 2003 and still exist in a scenic part of the old city. Our pre-Reformation Catholic tour England continues the next day as we drive to Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest in the country, with the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe. It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and Saint Swithun, a bishop of Winchester who died in 862. Next, we travel to Salisbury and visit the city’s more than 750-year-old cathedral that boasts of Britain’s tallest spire, the world’s best preserved original Magna Carta 1215 and Europe’s oldest working clock.
Discover One of the Seven Wonders of the World & Gothic Architecture
Today on our tour of England we visit the nearby prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, built between 2000 and 3000 B.C. It is one of the most recognizable sites and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It consists of a ring of standing stones that have fascinated archaeologists, historians and the general public for many years. Then we visit the spectacular Cathedral of Wells, which was dedicated to St. Andrew in 1239. The interior of this cathedral is an example of early English Gothic architecture. The north transept is home to an astronomical clock (1390) with jousting knights that charge each other every quarter hour. To the north of the cathedral and connected to it by the Chain Gate is Vicars’ Close, a street planned in the 14th century and claimed to be the oldest purely residential street in Europe with all but one of its original buildings surviving intact. Later on our tour of England we visit nearby Bath, another World Heritage Site. The Romans built a spa and a temple there in 60 A.D. The Bath springs are the only hot springs in the UK. After breakfast the following day, we begin our tour of England with a drive north to Gloucester for a visit to the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and the Holy Trinity, dedicated in 1499. Harry Potter fans should know that it was Gloucester’s historic cathedral cloisters that were transformed into the corridors of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the films of JK Rowling’s first two books. We then go to the ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Tintern, one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales, founded in 1131 and dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536. We begin the Lord’s Day by worshiping at Mass in St. Peter’s Church. Next, our tour of England will take us through the beautifully quaint village of Broadway, often referred to as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds,” an area in England containing the Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills and outstanding natural beauty. On our way to the renowned university city of Oxford, we will have a photo opportunity at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. We will also visit the churchyard of Bladon where Sir Winston is buried in a simple tomb along with his beloved wife Clementine.
Explore Windsor & London
In the morning, we head west for a short trip to Windsor Castle, one of three official residences of the Queen and home to the Sovereign for over 900 years. Next on our tour of England visit the Tower of London, where St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were imprisoned and beheaded. We also visit Westminster Hall, where the trial of St. Thomas More took place in 1535 and where Pope Benedict XVI addressed a distinguished audience in September 2010. Just across the street, is Westminster Abbey where St. Edward the Confessor is buried, and before whose tomb Pope Benedict prayed with Archbishop Rowan of Canterbury. Today is the last full day of our tour of England, and we head to London. You can shop at the upscale famous Harrods department store. Visit the British Museum where highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and the mummies in the Ancient Egypt collection. You could visit The National Gallery where you can find works by masters such as Van Gogh, da Vinci, Botticelli, Renoir, and Titian. Perhaps on your tour of England you may want to experience The Natural History Museum which features a collection of the biggest, tallest and rarest animals in the world. The London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel which boasts some of London’s best views from its 32 capsules is yet another option. Some may want to see Hyde Park or the Imperial War Museum. Choose as you wish but do get back in time to enjoy a farewell river cruise and dinner together on board one of London’s Thames Cruisers before we fly back the the U.S.A.