Oxfordshire Gardens

May 17 to 23, 2020

Coordinator: Libby Lubin

Garden Historian and Horticulturist:  Nancy Leszczynski

Several years ago, my husband David held a one-year appointment at Oxford University.  It was a very special time for us.  Indeed, I would say it was magical:  the university, the city of Oxford, and perhaps, above all, the beautiful countryside a stone’s throw away.

Working closely with garden historian Nancy Leszczynski, in May of 2016, I offered a tour of Oxfordshire gardens to a handful of friends.  It was a wonderful trip that we offered two more times. Over these three years we have formed lasting bonds with a host of charming and remarkable head gardeners, landscape designers, and property owners.

It is with great enthusiasm that we offer our 2020 tour of Oxfordshire Gardens to our Italian Journeys friends.

Our Itinerary:

Sunday, May 17: Arrive in Oxford.  Afternoon tour of the university with author, historian, and Oxford alum David Crane:  the colleges, libraries, chapels and gardens.  With luck, we’ll catch an evensong at New College, with a choir of little boys in cassocks and ruffed collars. Welcome dinner to follow.  

Monday, May 18: Morning visit to Rousham, truly the rarest of jewels. Both the house and the landscape are the work of William Kent (1685 – 1748), a prominent architect and designer of the early 18th c. as well as mentor to Capability Brown, who worked with Kent at Stowe.  Both the house and the grounds remain to this day almost entirely as William Kent intended them to be.

After a pub lunch, we follow Kent to the 18th c. gardens of Stowe House, though the term garden hardly suggests the scope and expanse of this landscape that is as much about the 18th c. political climate as it is about landscape design.  But not only Kent was at work here. Indeed, the three phases of Stowe’s landscape design were carried out by the prime movers and shakers of the day: first Charles Bridgeman, then William Kent, and finally the indomitable Capability Brown.

Tuesday, May 19: In the morning, a private visit to the house and gardens of Buscot Park, the 18th c. home of the current Lord and Lady Faringdon. Of particular interest in the house is the sitting room with Edward Burne-Jones murals of Sleeping Beauty. It is, however, the grounds of Buscot that one comes to see.  The early 20thc. Water Garden, designed by Harold Peto, is a stunning example of nature made even more splendid by man.

Afternoon visit, with lunch along the way, to Waddesdon Manor, the 19th c. estate/weekend getaway of Baron Ferdinand di Rothschild. The Neo-Renaissance chateau is straight out of the Loire Valley. But what I like best are the gardens, and here we get a two-for-one: The gardens laid out under Rothschild are a rare and nearly perfect example of Victorian gardening, which involved so much upkeep that most have been replaced. In addition, the dairy buildings of the estate were landscaped by the very gifted and highly original Julian and Isabel Bannerman.

Wednesday, May 20: Excursion to the Cotswolds, where our first stop is Kiftsgate Court, a garden that dates to the 1920s and has been cared for by three generations of women gardeners. As my 90-year-old mother remarked when we visited, “You can tell it’s a woman’s garden; each plant is so clearly loved.”

After lunch in the Kiftsgate tearoom, we continue on to Bourton House, an 18th c. Cotswolds manor house with three acres of beautiful gardens.

Thursday, May 21: Private visit to the gardens of Haseley Court, the final residence of American tastemaker Nancy Lancaster, an original partner in the design firm of Colfax & Fowler. In 1950, Lancaster acquired what was then a run-down shell of a Georgian house and grounds, it having served as a POW camp during WW II. Over the next 30 years, she restored the landscape and branded it with her personal style.  In 1982, the current owners, Fiona and Desmond Haywood, friends of Lancaster’s, acquired the property and have worked diligently to preserve her vision.  We will have a private tour with Fiona.

Lunch at Rofford Manor, the country home of Jeremy Mogford who owns the Old Parsonage Hotel where we are staying. The gardens, laid out in 1985, draw on centuries of English garden design with ha-has, topiary, and even a Capability-style folly in the distance.  They also have a very good chef!

 Late afternoon and evening are free.

Friday, May 22: Morning visit to Broughton Grange, a contemporary garden designed in 2001 by the innovative and constantly award-winning Tom Stuart-Smith.  Pub lunch.

Afternoon visit to Worcester College, where husband David was a Senior Fellow.  Worcester has one of Oxford’s most splendid gardens, which we will tour with the delightful head-gardener Simon Bagnall.

Farewell dinner in an Oxford College.  Last year it was Bailliol, the year before, Worcester.  

Saturday, May 23: The tour ends with breakfast.  Oxford is an hour’s train ride from London or a bus or taxi to any of the London airports.

Garden Historian Nancy Leszczynski and Libby Lubin at the gardens of Stowe

Garden Historian Nancy Leszczynski and Libby Lubin at the gardens of Stowe

 




 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch at Rofford Manor, the country home of Jeremy Mogford who owns the Old Parsonage Hotel where we are staying. The gardens, laid out in 1985, draw on centuries of English garden design with ha-has, topiary, and even a Capability-style folly in the distance.  They also have a very good chef!

 

Late afternoon and evening are free.

 

Friday, May 22

If I were to pick my favorite garden, it would have to be Rousham.  Both the house and the landscape are the work of William Kent(1685 – 1748), a prominent architect and designer of the early 18thc. as well as mentor to Capability Brown, who worked with Kent at Stowe.  

 

Rousham, to quote from its brochure, “represents the first phase of English landscape design and remains almost as Kent left it, one of the few gardens of this date to have escaped alteration, with many features which delighted eighteenth century visitors to Rousham still in situ.” The Kent landscape is both beautiful and manageable:  you don’t need a horse or carriage from which to see it.  And the walled gardens are a constantly changing canvas.  

 

Lunch at a local pub.

 

Late afternoon visit to Worcester College, where husband David was a Senior Fellow.  Worcester has one of Oxford’s most splendid gardens, which we will tour with the delightful head-gardener Simon Bagnall.

 

Farewell dinner in an Oxford College.  Last year it was Bailliol, the year before, Worcester.  

 

Saturday, May 23.

The tour ends with breakfast.  Oxford is an hour’s train ride from London or a bus or taxi to any of the London airports.

 




 

Accommodations

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will be the sixth year in a row that we’ve offered Fundamental Italy.  And, truly, it’s a trip not to be missed: the chance to explore some of the most iconic sites in Italy, off season, with few other tourists.  While weather is increasingly unpredictable, on our past excursions we've enjoyed abundant sunshine and mild temperatures. January is also a good time to catch an opera at Naples’ glorious and recently renovated Teatro San Carlo.   Here's hoping there'll be something good on offer.

Thursday, January 24:  Rome's Centro Storico, an Italian Journey's "essential":  the Pantheon, the Ghetto, the piazzas, the fountains.

Friday, January 25:  The Vatican:  the museums, the Raphael Stanze, the Sistine Chapel, the Basilica of St. Peter's.

Saturday, January 26:  Caravaggio:  The tour includes the Borghese Gallery, one of my favorite museums in Italy, plus half a dozen masterpieces still in situ throughout the city:  Santa Maria del Popolo, San Luigi dei Francesi, Sant'Agostino.

Sunday, January 27:  Ancient Rome:  The Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill.

Monday, January 28:  Morning bus to Naples.  Afternoon to the recently restored Charterhouse of San Martino, with masterpieces of the Neapolitan Baroque, plus an enchanting museum of Christmas creches.  

Tuesday, January 29:  Tour the excavations of Pompeii.  Last year we were thrilled to find open an entirely new quarter of the city with stunning frescoes, ancient gardens, remains of a bustling provincial city, and a mere handful of other visitors.  

Wednesday, January 30:    Morning visit to the Campi Flegrei, a curious back-water in the periphery of Naples, with some very interesting archeological sites:  the amphitheater of Pozzouli, the ancient water cisterns of Bacoli, and more.  After lunch, a visit to the Naples archeological museum, with finds from the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum:  frescoes, mosaics, bronzes, household wares. Certainly one of the great museums of the world.

Thursday, January 31:  Spaccanapoli:  the historic center of Naples that sits upon Ancient Greek foundations.  It's a jumble of street life, with surprising treasures:  Caravaggio's masterpiece, The Works of Seven Mercies; the hauntingly beautiful chapel of San Severo; the delightful Convent of Saint Claire with wall-to-wall majolica tiles; the Christmas Creche street of San Gregorio Armeno, and more.  Return to Rome in the afternoon.

Friday, February 1:  The tour ends with breakfast.

That had to be the best, most enlightening, delicious and elegant trip I have ever taken. . . It amazes me that no matter how many times I visit Rome, besides enjoying the old treasures, that are always exciting new adventures waiting around the next ruin. And now I have fallen in love with Naples, grit and all.

Ottley Mullady; Southold, NY





 

Accommodations

We will be based for six nights at the Old Parsonage Hotel in North Oxford.  This luxury hotel in an historic building is a short walk from both the center of Oxford University and, in the opposite direction, the stylish cafes and restaurants of the Jericho neighborhood.  I should add that I know of few hotels so beautifully designed and meticulously maintained.  

Old Parsonage Hotel, Oxford

Old Parsonage Hotel, Oxford

Plan to arrive in Oxford no later than midday on May 17and depart no sooner than the morning of May 23.  We can book extra nights at the hotel as needed and help you get from the airport or from London to Oxford.

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Rates

Per person, double occupancy, Superior Deluxe Double:  $4250

Per person, single occupancy, Classic Double:  $5000

Rates for suites and room upgrades available upon request. 

The cost of the tour includes 6 nights at the Old Parsonage Hotel, a full English breakfast each morning, 2 dinners, 5 lunches as outlined in the itinerary, transportation by private coach, entrance fees to all sites, guide fees, and tips.

Not included:  airfare and airport transportation, unscheduled meals, items of a personal nature such as room service, drinks ordered at the bar, laundry, etc.nd items of a personal nature.

For more information or to sign up:

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