Posted by: marymarthatours | August 8, 2013

Announcing the 2014 M&M Tour

Spring Gardens of Cornwall and Devon

(including Downton Abbey)

April 26-May 10, 2014

The brochures are ready and the registrations have begun for the Mary & Martha 2014 tour, Spring Gardens of Cornwall and Devon.  We’ll get to Somerset as well, and as a really exciting addition, we will visit Highclere Castle, site for the filming of the hit series, Downton Abbey.

Stourhead, mwpostcard

Stourhead Garden in the spring

After our arrival at Heathrow Airport on April 27, 2014, we’ll stop for lunch at Savill Gardens outside of Windsor.  Then on to Salisbury where we’ll stay for two nights.  We’ll visit Stourhead, one of the most outstanding gardens of the English Landscape design style.  This garden, with its walk around the lake, classical temples, and breathtaking views, will be full of blooming rhododendrons and flowering trees.  That afternoon we’ll stop at Shute House with its modern water garden designed by noted landscape architect Geoffrey Jellicoe. 

From Salisbury, we drive to the Falmouth area for three nights at the incredible Meudon Hotel.  My husband and I stayed at the Meudon many years ago and still talk about the delightful garden that stretches down a ravine from the hotel to a private beach.  That, and the great food.


Meudon Hotel upper garden

While in Cornwall, we plan to visit three important gardens:  Trebah; the Lost Garden of Heligan; and the Eden Project.  We’ll also spend part of a day in the atmospheric seaside town of St. Ives, where our travelers can stroll, shop, visit the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, or just sit by the sea.

eden, Jurgen Matern, cca3.0

The Eden Project domes, Cornwall

On the way to our three-night stay in Exeter, we’ll have a chance to soak up the bleak and beautiful scenery of Dartmoor.  A day off for our driver in Exeter means free time to explore the exquisite Exeter Cathedral, several city gardens, or the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.  We’ll spend another day visiting Coleton Fishacre, an Arts & Crafts house with a lovely art deco interior and beautiful garden.

Glastonbury Abbey, PD

Ruins of Glastonbury Abbey

After Exeter we move on to Bath, where we’ll stay for four nights, stopping en route at Glastonbury to visit the garden of the Chalice Well and the haunting Glastonbury Abbey.  From Bath, we’ll spend a day at the Great Malvern Flower Show.  This show is similar to the better known Chelsea Flower Show, but without the mobs and congestion.  Also in the Bath area, we’ll see Iford Manor, the amazing Italianate garden created by Harold Peto in the Edwardian age.  And there will be free time in Bath for exploring, shopping, enjoying the new Thermae Spa, or just relaxing.

Highclere, Mike Searle, ccasa2.0

Highclere Castle

A highlight of the tour will be the day that we drive from Bath to visit Highclere Castle.  Getting a group booking at Highclere was a challenge; the Castle is opened on a very limited schedule in May, and they accept only one group booking per day.  There was only one possible open day that would work with our itinerary.  To make sure that we got the day we needed, I had to make a transatlantic phone call at 3 AM in the morning on the early March 2013 day that bookings for 2014 opened.  It took several more phone calls and many emails, but we are now confirmed for our visit on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.  I am looking forward to seeing in person the interior rooms that are so familiar to fans of the Downton Abbey.  But we will also have time to explore the gardens that are seldom seen on the TV show. 

This tour package includes group air transportation from Seattle or Minneapolis.  Land-only arrangements can also be made.  To see or print a copy of the brochure click here.  If you have questions about the tour, please contact either Mary or Martha.

(by Mary)

Photo credits:  Meudon Hotel – Meudon Hotel website, used by permission;  Eden Project – copyright Jurgen Matern and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license;   Glastonbury Abbey– copyright Nilfanion and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license; Highclere Castle – copyright Michael Searle and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.


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