POSTPONED Friday 17 APRIL – Monday 20 APRIL

Compton Castle – ‘a set design for a Disney epic’ according to Simon Jenkins, a 14c castellated manor house with defences intact, e.g., its bedrooms snugly enclosed in towers, a magnificent Kitchen with Britain’s largest open culinary fireplace, a Great Hall, a small chapel. Home to the Gilberts, whose well-connected Elizabethan descendant, soldier navigator adventurer, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a busy brilliant opportunistic man whose ambitions and exploitative deeds in southern Ireland and beyond resulted in the first Desmond Rebellion, and who, after seizing Newfoundland for the Crown drowned at sea during a storm.

Powderham Castle – former fortified manor in an extensive park , now ‘a picturesque jumble of periods’, ‘a family tree in architecture’, full of spectacular interiors, eccentric treasures, a James Wyatt large music room, a 17c spiral staircase eulogized by Pevsner as ‘the most spectacular architecture of its date in the West Country’. The seat of the Courtenays, Earls of Devon for six centuries, and still occupied by its ancestral owners, one of Devon’s oldest family homes.

Castle Drogo – ‘Britain’s last castle’ designed by Lutyens, a structurally ‘medieval’ palace with hidden 20c amenities (332 electrical sockets and built-in vacuuming system), furniture, fittings and features fit for a king and a Gertrude Jekyll formal garden. Built as a monument to Julius Drewe one of three Victorian titans of retailing with Thomas Lipton and John Sainsbury, able to retire at 33 after only six years of work, hired Lutyens to create his castle while he established a pedigree to match his wealth, and tried to fit in.

A L a R o n d e – a singular eccentric, one-of-a-kind, 16-sided house, completed in 1796 with three storeys: a cellar, a central octagonal hall on the first floor around which the principal apartments are grouped and a large third floor attic lit by nine dormer windows. Built to specifications of two Parminter cousins for their copious collections of objets d’art gathered on their ten year Grand Tour. Interior embellishments include a feather frieze in the drawing room, and a fragile shell-encrusted gallery and staircase, supplemented with lichen, glass, mica, pottery, stones and bones.

Buckland Tout Saints Hotel

A former William and Mary manor house, now a lovely country house hotel, Buckland Touts Saints is situated in Kingsbridge in the stunning Devon South Hams, and is surrounded by acres of beautifully tended gardens and woodland. Its proximity to miles of Devon’s idyllic coastline allows guests to breathe the freshest sea air. With beautiful bedrooms, award-winning cuisine , and an air of tranquility throughout Buckland Tout-Saints is well established as one of the finest country house hotels in Devon. It has won a host of awards including three AA stars for the levels of comfort and hospitality, alongside two AA Rosettes for its restaurant.

£1295 members, £1345 non-members, single room supplement £50, deposit £250 includes three nights accommodation and all tuition: full hot breakfast, two coffees, all lunches in the Hotel, and all dinners including wine; all lectures and private visit arrangements, and all taxi travel during the tour (please note that this cost excludes train tickets to and from Exeter).