Exploring England’s West Country


May 9–17 & May 31–June 8, 2024 

Venturing to England’s southwestern reaches, this Study Trip Abroad highlights the area’s picturesque villages, magnificent country houses, and impressive gardens. We blend the city, countryside, and coast through bespoke visits to private collections, grand manor houses, and stunning landscapes. From elegant Bath to the sweeping moorlands to the spectacular coastline, this adventure ranges across five counties and is sure to delight guests as we explore a region known for its natural beauty and national heritage. At every turn, expert colleagues bring each noteworthy site to life. 


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

May 9 and 31

Gathering in the fashionable and historic resort town of Bath at the chic Queensbury Hotel, our program commences with an introductory lecture by decorative arts historian Lisa White on the West Country’s architectural development. An afternoon outing introduces Dyrham Park, a late-17th-century Baroque house built for colonial administrator William Blathwayt. Prior to our opening dinner, we are welcomed for drinks at No. 1 Royal Crescent, which encapsulates the town’s fashionable lifestyle in the late 18th century.

Included: R, D
Overnight: Bath 

May 10 and June 1

Our day exploring Somerset starts at the privately owned Corsham Court, featuring an admirable art collection assembled in the mid- 18th century and a stunning Capability Brown landscape. Lunch is hosted in historic Lacock, bounded by the River Avon and beautifully preserved. Venturing to the 16th-century moated Great Chalfield Manor, we are welcomed for a tour and afternoon tea at this private estate set amidst seven acres of beautiful gardens. 

Included: B, L
Overnight: Bath 

May 11 and June 2

Spending the day in Wiltshire, we start at Longleat House, home to the 8th Marquess and Marchioness of Bath and a masterpiece of Elizabethan architecture that contains superb paintings and decorative arts. Lunch awaits at Bradley House, the late-17th-century seat of the Dukes of Somerset, which sits adjacent to a picturesque Medieval church. The furnishings testify to the family’s storied past. We continue to visit a stately home that has remained in the same family for centuries and contains enviable pictures and decorative arts from family houses around England. 

Included: B, L
Overnight: Bath 

May 12 and June 3

Departing for England’s southwestern reaches, we stop at Stourhead, an important Palladian house by Colen Campbell in 1724 and surrounded by one of England’s finest 18th-century landscape gardens, replete with temples, grottoes, and other follies. Continuing our journey, we reach Knightshayes in Devon, a grand Gothic Revival mansion constructed 1869–74 for John Heathcoat-Amory to the design of William Burges. The lovely garden is based on the original plan provided by Edward Kemp. Our day concludes upon reaching the splendid Hotel Endsleigh built in the early 19th century as a retreat for the Duchess of Bedford and surrounded by expansive gardens.

Included: B, L, D
Overnight: Tavistock 

May 13 and June 4

Dipping our toe into Cornwall, we encounter Cotehele, a rambling granite manor built by the Edgcumbes high above the River Tamar, which has changed little since Tudor times, except for the alluring garden. The house transports us back to the early 16th century, most notably through the paneling and furnishings in the Great Hall and family chambers. Following lunch along the river, we reach Antony, the Carew-Pole family’s impressive early-18th-century house on an isolated peninsula. Although the scale is modest, the fine collections of paintings and furniture contained within are worthy of close study. 

Included: B, L, D 
Overnight: Tavistock 

May 14 and June 5

Focusing on sites in Devon, we start at Saltram overlooking the River Plym and the estuary beyond. The house contains a magnificent Robert Adam saloon and a marvelous ceramics collection that reflect the Parker family’s increasing prominence over the second half of the 18th century. We are welcomed for lunch at Shilstone House, a 17th-century vernacular house that has been lovingly restored by the Fenwick family. Ashcombe Tower has a historic core around which Brian O’Rourke wrapped a Regency Revival addition in the 1930s, with extant original soft furnishings provided by American decorator Marion Dorn. Pushing northward around Dartmoor National Park, we arrive at beautifully appointed accommodations at Bovey Castle.

Included: B, L
Overnight: North Bovey 

May 15 and June 6

Continuing our exploration of Devon, Ugbrooke Park is an early castellated house designed by Robert Adam for the Clifford family with grounds by Capability Brown. The house has been painstakingly restored to its 18th-century glory. We then journey to Bovey Tracey, with tours to include the Parish Church of St. Peter, Paul & Thomas, and afterwards we visit Marhamchurch Antiques. In the evening, we are welcomed by the Earl of Devon for a tour and dinner at Powderham Castle, a picturesque manor situated along the River Exe. The ancient Great Hall was transformed in the 18th century into the Marble Hall and adjacent staircase, both with superb Rococo plasterwork. James Wyatt put in a lovely Music Room in the late 1700s, and Charles Fowler added a Jacobean Revival overlay during the following century. 

Included: B, L, D
Overnight: North Bovey 

May 16 and June 7

In order to resituate ourselves within striking distance of Heathrow for departures, we chart a path eastward that brings us to Axminster Carpets, Britain’s oldest, best known, and most prestigious carpet designer and manufacturer. We learn how the firm is keeping alive time-honored traditions of quality, focusing our visit on commissions to reproduce carpets for historic houses. At nearby Mapperton, the collection includes pictures by Lely, Van de Velde the Younger, Reynolds, and Hogarth, including several portraits of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, who served under Cromwell and became Charles II’s first general-at-sea. Our final evening is spent at Lainston House, a handsome 17th-century brick manor, where the accommodations and cuisine are widely admired.

Included: B, L, D 
Overnight: Winchester 

May 17 and June 8

Transfers to Heathrow for stateside departures or continue for independent travels.

Included: B 


Land Arrangement Cost: $9,270 per person, based on double occupancy for 8 nights.

Included in Trip Cost: Hotel accommodations in 4-and 5-star hotels, 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 1 reception, and 5 dinners. Private coach transportation; local guides; admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens; gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers; and porterage.

Not Included in the Trip Cost: Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included. Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation of your registration from the Trust.

Reservations: A deposit of $2,500 per person is required at time of registration. Reservations and deposits are taken on an as-received basis. You will receive written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust when we receive your registration.

Single Supplement: The single supplement is $1,260 to be paid with the final balance.

Final Payment: Will be due by January 31, 2024.

Membership: Membership at the Sponsor level is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is tax-deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

Contribution: A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

Itinerary: The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted at this time but subject to change as necessary.

Participation: The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The trip will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. While proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not required, participants should be prepared to test and wear masks when requested.

Activity Level: The Trust’s Study Trip Abroad itineraries are planned with care and attention to detail to ensure a memorable and rewarding trip for all participants, although it should be noted that this itinerary is strenuous and includes standing for periods of time, walking on uneven surfaces, and ascending and descending stairs without handrails. Please consider if this program is suited for your health, physical condition, and individual circumstances.

Cancellation and Refunds: If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Decorative Arts Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $500 administrative fee per person. Deposits are non-refundable after October 31, 2023. Cancellations arriving by February 28, 2024, will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations arriving by March 31, 2024, will receive a 25% refund. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after March 31, 2024. THE TRUST STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE TO PROTECT AGAINST CANCELLATIONS DUE TO ILLNESS, INJURY, AND DISRUPTIONS CAUSED BY THE PANDEMIC. 


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