When Queen Anne died in 1714 without heir, the English throne was offered to her nearest Protestant relative, George of Hanover, who, without much imagination, took the name George I of England. Thus began the "Georgian Era." George I was succeeded by his son, grandson, and great-grandson, all named George. During this period, the nature of English society and the political face of the realm changed profoundly. This charge was possible in part because the first two Georges took little interest in politics and were quite content to let ministers rule on their behalf. Furthermore, England's constitutional monarchy was firmly established, which helped assure a broader distribution of wealth and power. Abroad the English acquired more territory and wealth through conquest and exploitation, although under George III the American colonies broke free of English rule. At home, the birth of the Industrial Revolution created new and vast opportunities for wealth and, inevitably, economic and social reform. With the subsequent revolution in art and architecture, England entered an era of domestic grandeur with the design and construction of many stately homes in town and country alike.
During this 12-day tour of England led by Lamar Cecil, we'll visit many of the magnificent estates built during the Georgian era. We'll explore Georgian architecture and art as well as the lifestyle and influences that shaped the way England and its empire developed during this period. We begin with four nights in London with such Georgian treasures as Syon House and Spencer House, including a day trip to Brighton and Petworth. We then travel by coach to Norfolk and Shrewsbury for visits to three of the grandest Georgian estates, Holkham Hall, Houghton House, and Kedleston. Continuing through the beautiful Welsh Marches countryside, we'll spend two nights in historic Bath, famous for its hot springs, Roman period baths, medieval heritage and stately Georgian architecture. With a ramble through the charming Cotswolds, we'll conclude our journey with two nights in Oxford including a private tour of Christ Church and a farewell reception at Blenheim Palace. An optional four night postextension to Edinburgh is available.
Lamar J. R. Cecil is the former William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of History at Washington and Lee University, specializing in European history. He has led a great many W&L Traveller programs to European and Mediterranean destinations. Lamar is a veteran teacher of W&L's Alumni Colleges, lecturing on a variety of topics from 19th-century Europe and Russia to the Venetian Empire, the Italian Renaissance, and the ancient world.