BRITAIN AND AMERICA:
Our Shared Heritage in London & East Anglia
Saturday, September 7
Depart the USA for London.
BA #190 departing Austin at 6:35 pm for London Heathrow (LHR)
Sunday, September 8
Arrive London Heathrow on BA #190 at 10:00 am
Transfer by luxury motor coach destined for The Swan Hotel, in Lavenham.
If arriving on a different flight, plan to arrive at 10:00 am at the Arrivals Hall, British Air Terminal 5 at London LHR. Look for our tour manager, Ruth Polling holding a sign “Hatfield Group.”
For the group arrival, after you have cleared customs, please meet RUTH POLLING, our London Blue Badge Guide, who will assist you to our coach. Ruth will have a sign marked “Hatfield England.”
About an hour after leaving Heathrow, we will break our journey by visiting Harrow School, founded in 1572 and one of England’s famous independent boarding school for boys. It was Churchill’s school. He entered at the age of 13 in 1888. He was not particularly happy and he did not excel academically, detesting the study of Latin and Greek in favor of English, but his powerful mind became apparent when he won a prize for reciting from memory 1,200 lines of poetry. Already interested in soldiering, he enrolled in a program to prepare for Sandhurst (the Royal Military Academy), from which he later graduated. As one of seven British prime ministers provided by Harrow School, Churchill returned many times. On October 29, 1941, he came to hear traditional school songs and to deliver his famous “Never Give In” speech: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
After lunch at The Hare in Old Redding, we continue on The Swan Hotel in Lavenham, a 90-minute drive.
4:00 pm Check In at The Swan Hotel in Lavenham
Lavenham is England’s finest medieval village from the Tudor Period (1485-1603). Built by wealthy wool merchants, it has retained its ancient character, as you will see in the Guildhall, St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, shops and pubs, and especially the Swan Hotel, frequented by the U.S. airmen during the war.
Pre-dinner drinks will be in the main Airman’s bar, with memorabilia and original graffiti from 1942-1945 still on the walls.
7:00 pm Dinner in a private dining room at The Swan Hotel
Monday, September 9
9:00 am Depart the Swan Hotel by luxury coach for Thorpe Abbotts
10:00 am Thorpe Abbotts (journey time 1 hour)
From 1942 to 1945, the 100th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Eighth Air Force –– about 3,000 young Americans –– was based on a RAF airfield at Thorpe Abbotts. Flying the four-engine B-17s, the bomb group was often called the “Bloody Hundredth” for the horrific losses it suffered in several raids over Nazi Germany. It was once commanded by John M. Bennett of San Antonio, Texas, a UT Austin graduate and later chairman of the University of Texas Development Board.
His uniform is in the museum and his ashes, like those of numerous comrades, were spread on the grounds. Another UT Austin former student, John “Red” Morgan was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for a mission flown from Thorpe Abbotts on July 28, 1943. (In the interest of full disclosure, there is disagreement as to whether he flew that day from Thorpe Abbotts or Alconbury.)
The 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum is in the restored Control Tower, while a nearby Quonset Hut serves as the visitors’ center. We will be greeted by the museum curators, Ron and Carol Batley.
12:30 pm Traditional two-course pub lunch with a glass of wine or beer at the Crown Inn in the historic Pulham Market village
2:00 pm Depart for the village of Horham
An airfield near the village of Horham was the home base for the 95th Bombardment Group, the first group to carry out a daylight raid on Berlin and the only group to be decorated with three Presidential Unit Citations. The museum of the 95th Bomb Group is on the site of the former NCO canteen called the Red Feather Club. It features many personal stories and other artefacts, and the original air raid shelter. Its murals –– painted by Nathan Bindler, an airman who became an art professor at the University of Georgia –– have been beautifully restored as has Brad’s Bar, which is still used. Ray Perry of Haskell County Texas, deceased father of former Texas governor, Rick Perry, flew 37 missions as a 19-year old tail gunner of a B-17 nicknamed “Heavy Date” that flew from Horham. Several years ago I brought Rick, his father and mother, back here for a tearful reunion with Ray’s past.
5:00 pm Return to the Swan Hotel, Lavenham
6:00 pm Depart for Gainsborough House in Sudbury
6:30 pm Drinks and canapes on arrival
7:00 Privately guided tour followed by buffet dinner at the Gainsborough’s House
Gainsborough’s House was the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough (1727- 1788), one of the great artists of British history. Gainsborough’s House has the largest collection of his work on display in the country. The house dates from around 1500 and retains many interesting architectural features. Its Georgian facade, built by Gainsborough's father, and other elegant additions date from the eighteenth century. His painting, The Blue Boy (circa 1770) is considered one of the finest works of art in history, particularly in Britain and America.
The youngest of nine children, Thomas Gainsborough lived in the house and attended Sudbury Grammar School. At 13 he went to London to further his studies training with the French painter and illustrator, Hubert-Francois Gravelot. In 1958 the Gainsborough's House Society was formed to purchase the house from private owners and establish it as a museum and memorial to the artist.
The permanent collection encompasses the artist's whole career, from early portraits and landscapes painted in Suffolk in the 1750s to later works from his London period of the 1770s and 80s. Artists close to Gainsborough are also represented, such as his nephew and studio assistant Gainsborough Dupont (1754-1797), and others who were teachers or followers.
10:00 pm Return to the Swan Hotel in Lavenham.
Tuesday, September 10
9:00 am Depart Lavenham for the Imperial War Museum at Duxford airfield
10:00 am Privately guided tour with the museum curator, Ivor Warne
IWM Duxford is Britain’s best-preserved and largest Second World War airfield, with a fascinating history that dates back to the First World War. IWM Duxford tells the story of the impact of aviation on the nature of war and on people's lives. Set within the wartime fighter station, seven impressive hangars filled with extraordinary collections and state-of-the-art exhibitions recount the development of aviation from its beginning.
During the Second World War, the RAF turned Duxford over to the U.S. 78th Fighter Group. Historic buildings are set alongside strikingly contemporary exhibit halls, most notably the American Air Museum of Britain, a memorial to the 30,000 American airmen who gave their lives flying from bases in the UK. It also honors those who fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and other conflicts. The museum is highly popular, both for its aesthetics and exhibits.
12:00 pm Depart IWM Duxford for Cambridge University
12:30 pm Lunch in the Parker Room at Corpus Christi College, a small and beautiful college founded in 1352, right in the center of Cambridge. It has one of the smallest numbers of undergraduate students of any college, two of whom were the actor Hugh Bonneville and the military historian, B.H. Liddell Hart.
After lunch we will visit the college’s historic Parker Library, a treasure trove of rare medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, as well as early printed books. Its most famous possession is the Canterbury Gospels, probably brought to England by St. Augustine when he was sent by Pope Gregory I to convert the people of Britain in 598 AD. The Gospels are still used in the enthronement of the Archbishops of Canterbury. In a joint venture between the college, the Cambridge University Library and Stanford University in California, the entire collection was digitized and can be viewed at <Parker on the Web>.
3:30 pm Drive to the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
The Cambridge American Cemetery holds the remains of 3,812 of our military dead, with another 5,127 memorialized on Tablets of the Missing, among them Glenn Miller and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Most died in the Battle of the Atlantic or in the aerial bombardment of Germany and Nazi occupied Europe.
To walk among the headstones is recognize the incredible diversity of our country and the price many have paid for the liberties we enjoy. From the mall near the entrance, the view of the sweeping curve of the gravestones across the lawn is best appreciated. The chapel has two huge military maps, stained glass windows bearing the state seals and military decorations, and a mosaic ceiling honoring the dead of our air forces.
Returning to Lavenham, dinner will be at Scrutchers in Long Melford Sudbury just outside Lavenham.
Wednesday, September 11
9:00 am Morning departure from Swan Hotel with luggage
10:00 am Private guided tour of Otley Hall (before opened to public). Set in one of the most unspoiled areas of England, Otley Hall is a stunning 16th Century moated house surrounded by 10 acres of award winning gardens. It has been voted one of the top 20 Historic Houses in the UK and is listed in “England’s Thousand Best Houses.” Described as “one of the most interesting 15th and best early 16th century houses in Suffolk,” the Hall is the oldest house in Suffolk surviving largely intact.
Notable features include a cross or screens passage, richly carved beams, superb linenfold paneling, and wall paintings celebrating the marriage in 1559 of Robert Gosnold III and Ursula Naunton. Outside, the lofty chimneys, herringbone brickwork and vine leaf ornamental plastering, give a tantalizing glimpse of a glorious past.
The Gosnolds lived here more than 230 years from 1440. Bartholomew Gosnold (1571-1607) voyaged to the New World, where in 1602 he discovered Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, which he named after his infant daughter. Still a private home, it is owned and inhabited by Ian and Catherine Beaumont.
12:30 pm Layer Marney Tower, privately guided tour & lunch hosted by the owners
Layer Marney Tower is a Tudor palace, composed of buildings, gardens and parkland, built in the 1520’s by Lord Marney to make a statement for his neighbors that he was rich, powerful and a friend of the reigning monarch, Henry VIII. With England’s tallest gatehouse, it was built to appear expensive. The buff terracotta decorations were made to look like stone, which was costly to import, and with extravagant use of glass, then also expensive. The 99 steps to the top appear to have eight floors, but double windows were built into the Tower, to make it appear to have more floors than it really did.
2:30 pm After lunch depart for London and The Stafford Hotel
5:00 pm Check in at The Stafford Hotel
Afternoon and evening at leisure.
Thursday, September 12
Free day in London.
Afternoon at leisure –– with the option of a guided walk with Tom Hatfield from the Stafford to places associated with the American presence in London during the war: the Embassy, Norfolk House (Eisenhower’s headquarters), and sites frequented by three men depicted in Lynne Olson’s book, Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour –– Edward R. Murrow, Averell Harriman and John Winant, the shy, idealistic U.S. ambassador –– each of whom formed intimate ties with the family of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. ark: 1 hour
6:00 pm Assemble in the lobby of The Stafford for transfer to the Churchill War Rooms and Museum
A private visit to the Churchill War Rooms
“This is the room from which I will direct the war,” declared Prime Minister Churchill in May 1940, when he entered this then secret maze of chambers beneath five feet of concrete near 10 Downing Street. He and his War Cabinet met here 115 times. Except for creating passageways allowing visitors to circulate, everything has been left as it was when, after six years
of war; the lights were finally turned off on August 16, 1945, the day after the Japanese agreed to surrender.
A senior guide at the Churchill War Rooms and the Museum
...will accompanied us and we have the War Rooms to ourselves –– an unparalleled opportunity to soak up the ambience of chambers and corridors that buzzed round-the-clock with planning and strategizing. From the inner side of glass walls that other visitors only peer through, we will go into offices, private living spaces, and gather round the Cabinet Room table where Churchill, his War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff, made momentous decisions that shaped the war. Their maps remain on the walls; you can feel the pinholes that marked the movement of Allied armies and fleets.
8:00 pm Reception in the War Rooms following the tour
10:00 pm Our driver returns us to The Stafford
Friday, September 13
8:15 am Gather in The Stafford’s lobby for half-day visits to the Imperial War Museum and St. Paul’s Cathedral
9:00 am Privately guided tour with an Imperial War Museum historian (before opening to public)
After visiting this museum, a friend wrote, “You can read about history, you can watch a documentary about history or you can visit a place like this and touch history.” The Imperial War Museum tells stories of people’s lives in modern war. The designers want visitors to “see war through the eyes of people who experienced it” it” with sound effects, video, touch screens, and interactive games. The result is a Museum of Experience that avoids controversial interpretations of history, because it is difficult to argue with experience. Some 1,300 artifacts from Britain’s wars from 1914 to 2014 are displayed. Since the USA participated in many of those conflicts, they also pertain to Americans. Among other large objects in the redesigned central atrium, there is a Spitfire that flew 47 missions during the Battle of Britain and a German V-2 rocket, the same model as one that exploded near the museum in January 1945, killing 43 people. Permanent exhibits include “A Family in Wartime,” “The Secret War,” and “Turning Points, 1934-1945.”
12:00 pm BLITZ WALK TOUR of Westminster with a specialist guide.
The walk will be illustrated with archive photos that provide a “then and now” perspective and as well as a wealth of eye-witness accounts.
Lunch on your own near St. Paul’s Cathedral
2:30 pm Privately guided tour of St Paul’s Cathedral with a guide and Dr. Hatfield
Bypassing crowds at the entrance, we will proceed slowly through the cathedral, pausing to gaze at the magnificence. Since its last stone laid in 1708, St. Paul’s Cathedral has become a symbol of hope, resilience and strength for the British nation and sympathizers around the world.
From its long and rich history, it offers much to discover –– the 1695 organ, once played by Mendelssohn and still in use; the Whispering Gallery; the American Memorial Chapel where the names of 28,000 Americans who gave their lives while stationed in the UK during the war are commemorated individually; a discreet bust of George Washington and a plaque to RAF Pilot Officer Billy Fiske with this poignant inscription: “An American Citizen Who Died That England Might Live. August 18th 1940.”
In the crypt we’ll view tombs of those who established and protected the Empire –– Lord Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon –– as well as the cathedral's architect, Christopher Wren (1632-1723), whose stone is inscribed with Si Momentum Requiris Circumspice (If you seek his monument, look around you). Nearby we will see tablet memorials to the six British Field Marshals of the Second World War, while reflecting on Florence Nightingale’s admonition to “Remember that all these men had mothers.”
On the grounds you can find statues of Pocahontas and John Wesley (1703-1791), the Anglican priest who inspired the Methodist movement.
4:30 pm Return to Stafford Hotel by our coach or take-off on your own
Dinner tonight in the home of Jane & Ronnie McCrum in Dulwich. Jane, who is the owner of In Any Event, our partner in London, arranges for the doors to fly open for Tom’s tour members.
Saturday, September 14
8:00 am The Hon. Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, will join us for our day to Chartwell. She has written five books about him.
10:00 am Chartwell
Chartwell captivated Winston Churchill from the moment he set eyes on the valley, protected by the sheltering arm of beautiful beech woods, and by the house set on a hillside with sweeping views over the Weald of Kent towards the South Downs.
The Chart Well, which flows from the western boundary of the site, fed the existing lake and Churchill recognized the potential for further reservoirs, swimming pools, water gardens and a way of life far from the pressures of politics in London. Over the ensuing years he created and built many of the projects that made Chartwell an extraordinary place.
See the rooms as they were in Churchill’s time right down to the daily newspapers and his famous cigars. Capture the mood of the key moments in the 20th Century, looking through photographs and books spanning Churchill’s career.
Visit the museum and exhibit rooms with their striking displays and sound recordings and superb collection of Churchill’s mementos and uniforms including his famous siren-suit and hats.
Explore the lovely gardens with its lakes and the water garden, where Churchill sat to feed Golden Orfe fish, Lady Clementine's Rose Garden, the Golden Rose walk and magnificent views over the Weald of Kent.
Churchill also painted many of some 500 paintings at Chartwell. He began painting as a pastime at the age of 41 (1915) just after his involvement in the planning of the disastrous Dardanelles campaign of the First World War. He painted for the rest of his life and built a studio in the gardens at Chartwell, where more than 150 of his paintings are shown.
Time to explore the gardens at your leisure
12:30 pm Lunch in private home nearby.
2:30 pm Depart from lunch engagement
4:15pm Arrive at The Stafford Hotel, London.
5:30 Departure from the Stafford Hotel by our coach
6:00pm Arrive at security checkpoint for the Houses of Parliament
6:15pm Greeted by Bob Stewart, a Member of Parliament and retired British army colonel, who will lead us on a private tour of the Houses of Parliament
7:30 Reception drinks on the terrace overlooking the River Thames (weather permitting)
Tour Members must have their passports
Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as The Palace of Westminster, are the meeting place of the House of Commons
and the House of Lords. It stands on the site where Edward the Confessor built his original palace soon after the year 1000 AD. In 1547, when the royal residence moved up the street to Whitehall Palace, the Lords continued to meet in Westminster Palace, while
the Commons met elsewhere in the palace in St. Stephen’s Chapel. For ceremonial purposes, Westminster Palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence.
The magnificent Houses of Parliament that we see today –– a Gothic Revival masterpiece –– was built between 1840 and 1888, designed to blend with nearby Westminster Abbey. Two of its imposing landmarks are the Elizabeth, or Clock Tower, named after its thirteen-ton bell called Big Ben; and the Victoria Tower, from which the Union flag flies when parliament is sitting.
House of Commons - An incendiary bomb destroyed the House of Commons in 1941. A reconstruction of the original design was completed in 1950. The seating arrangement is reminiscent of choir stalls: the members of the cabinet sit on the front benches while opposition senior members sit directly opposite. The distance between the benches, marked out on the floor in red lines, is exactly two sword lengths and one foot apart. Members are not allowed to cross these lines, thus ensuring that debates are kept orderly, though often raucous.
In the center of the floor stands the Table of the House, on which the mace is placed at the start of each parliamentary sitting; this is the Speaker’s sceptre. The speaker of the house presides over sittings, keeping order.
8:00 pm A three-course dinner will be served in a private dining room of Westminster Palace
10:00 pm Return to the hotel by coach
Sunday, September 15
7:45 am Assemble in The Stafford’s lobby to depart for Bletchley Park (journey time 90 minutes)
9:30 am Begin guided tour of Bletchley Park, central location ofBritain’s wartime codebreakers
Bletchley Park is a Victorian Mansion situated in the countryside fifty miles north of London. From 1939, it was the site of the British Government Code and Cypher School, which was not a school but a highly secret organization run by MI6 (eq. to CIA) whose mission was to break the enciphered codes of foreign powers, especially German. By 1945, more than 10,000 people worked at BP.
Their codebreaking –– called the Ultra Secret –– enabled the Allies to sometimes know in advance what the enemy was thinking,intended, or might do. Bletchley Park’s role in the war was one of the best kept secrets in the world until the mid-1970s. Churchill described BP as “the geese that laid the golden egg and never cackled!” By conservative estimates, the intelligence obtained –– referred to as Ultra –– shortened the war by at least two years. BP also heralded the birth of the information age with the development of machines such as the world’s first electronic computer, called Colossus.
Although the activities at BP were primarily British, Americans were here during the war, and together they laid the foundation for the sharing of intelligence between the two nations that continues today.
12:30 pm Private Buffet lunch at a charming 17th century house nearby in Buckinghamshire, with the owners, Phillip and Jennifer Rimell (40 minutes from Bletchley)
4:00pm Arrive at The Stafford Hotel
Free night for dinner.
Monday, September 16
8:00 am Depart Stafford Hotel for RAF Uxbridge by coach (journey time 45 minutes)
9:00 am RAF Uxbridge –– Fighter Group #11 Operations Room
Private visit to the theater-like underground Operations Room from where the Battle of Britain was directed, and won, in the skies over southern England in summer of 1940. The Ops Room is set up as it was when Churchill and his wife, Clementine, came here on Sunday, September 15, the culminating day of the battle, which was a major turning point of the war. Without victory in the Battle of Britain, there would have been no war to win and the world would likely be much different than it is.
From here, air controllers guided pilots in the air to intercept incoming German bombers and fighters while women of the WAAF moved small replicas around the huge map board to reflect the positions of enemy and friendly aircraft. We will go to the balcony where Churchill sat overlooking the intense activity below. With every British plane eventually committed, the margin of victory was narrow. Before leaving, Churchill congratulated everyone personally. Later, in a somber mood, he uttered these famous words for the first time, “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”
The Ops Room was featured in the movie, “The Battle of Britain,” which is occasionally on television, and is available to rent from iTunes. The DVD can be purchased.
11:30 am Arrive at Windsor
Meet Colonel David Axson, a Military Knight of Windsor Castle, who will escort us on a private tour of St. George’s Chapel. (Tour members must have their passports.)
St. George’s Chapel. This is one of the most beautiful chapels in the country; with a wonderful fan vaulted ceiling. The Choir has the banners and Achievements of The Knights of The Garter. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were married at St. George's Chapel; Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles had their wedding blessed here.
Buffet lunch hosted by Colonel Axson. You will have time to hear about the fascinating life at the royal residence. First established in 1348 as part of Edward III’s great chivalric legacy, the Order of the Garter, the Military Knights of Windsor have a colorful history and a modern ceremonial role. By the end of your visit you will know how Knights are appointed, where they live in the Castle and what duties they are required to perform.
2:00 pm Depart for the Runnymede British Air Forces Memorial
The Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede commemorates by name, chiseled in stone, each of the 20,456 men and women of the Royal Air Force who were lost in operations from bases in the United Kingdom and northwest Europe –– and who have no known grave. They came from all parts of the Commonwealth and from European countries overrun by Nazi Germany. It is a most touching memorial.
You can also find here the names of two Americans who flew in the Battle of Britain: Lt. Arthur Donohue and Pilot Officer Vernon Keogh. Donohue wrote two books about serving in the RAF. Shortly before his death, he sent a letter to his parents, saying, “My life may not be long, but it will be deep and wide.” The roof of the memorial affords a grand view of the Thames River Valley, Heathrow airport, and overlooks the Runnymede Meadow where on June 15, 1215, King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta guaranteeing certain rights to his subjects. It was the first time that anyone had ever limited the absolute power of a monarch. The Magna Carta is rightly called the “cornerstone of English liberty” and therefore of the United States.
5:30 pm Gather in the Stafford’s Sutherland Room for pre-dinner drink
6:00 pm Three course Farewell Dinner in The Stafford’s Game Bird Restaurant
8:00 pm Depart for the Tower of London
8:30 pm At the West Gate, meet the Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) guide for a private out-of-doors tour within the 15-foot thick walls of the Tower. Our route includes Traitors Gate, the Execution Site, and the enormous White Tower. Originally built by William the Conqueror in 1080 to intimidate his subjects, it was also for protection from raiders coming up the Thames.
Over the centuries, royalty have used the place to get rid of people they found inconvenient to have around. Henry VIII locked up Anne Boleyn here before beheading her (1536); also his fifth wife, Catherine Howard (1542). Richard III jailed the two young princes Edward and Richard here before murdering them (c. 1643). Hitler’s Nazi henchman, Rudolf Hess, was imprisoned in the Tower and a German spy, Josef Jakobs, was executed here by firing squad in August 1941.
The huge walls, the system of moats, Beefeaters, and a legion of ghosts are probably enough to keep the most daring of thieves from trying to get inside. To be sure, however, every night there is the Ceremony of the Keys to lock up the place. After all, the Crown Jewels are here.
9:53 pm The Ceremony of the Keys
Since 1340, the formal locking of the gates of the Tower of London –– the Ceremony of The Keys –– has been carried out. At exactly seven minutes to 10 o'clock, the Chief Yeoman Warder emerges from the Byward Tower wearing his long red coat and a Tudor bonnet. in one hand he carries a candle lantern and, in the other hand, the Queens Keys.
The pageantry proceeds from there. The ceremony was interrupted once during the war, when German bombs fell on the Tower. The shock of the bombs knocked down the Chief Yeoman Warder and his escort, but they got up and carried on. The Officer of the Guard sent a letter of apology to King George VI, who replied in writing that the Officer was not to be punished.
10:05 pm The ceremony ends, and we depart via the West Gate. Our coach is parked nearby and we return to The Stafford Hotel.
Tuesday, September 17
8:45 am Check out & depart The Stafford
For those tour members leaving later, please remember that check out time is 12:00 Noon.
Suggested return flight:
British Air #190 departing London Heathrow at 12 noon
Arriving Austin at 4:20 pm