War in the West
The English Civil War in the West CountryThe 17th century Civil War saw some of the most brutal battles to ever take place on British soil and clashes in the West Country, of prime importance for controlling routes to the key ports of Bristol and Gloucester, were some of the most fierce.
The English Civil War pitted friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour. Nowhere was this struggle more clearly epitomised than in the West Country where close friends Sir Ralph Hopton and Sir William Waller commanded opposing sides for King and Parliament.
Hopton and Waller had known each other since childhood. Both were local landowners, Puritans and MPs who sat together in the House of Commons. Yet despite choosing opposing sides in the battle for England and facing each other across the battlefield, Waller still wrote these words to his friend:
“The God of peace in his good time will send us peace. In the meantime, we are upon the stage and must act those parts that are assigned to us in this tragedy. Let us do so in a way of honour and without personal animosities. Whatever the outcome I will never willingly relinquish the title of Your most affectionate friend.”
Your tour will be led by Julian Humphrys, chair of the Wessex Region of the Battlefields Trust and an expert on the English Civil War in the West Country, bringing you unique insight into the people, the period and the politics.
The expert leading your tour
Julian Humphrys spent 12 years at Chelsea’s National Army Museum and has appeared as a historical expert on TV programmes including Channel Five’s series on British battlefields and on BBC Radio 4’s Ramblings Series.
A qualified blue-badge guide, Julian set up and led English Heritage’s Battlefield hikes programme and is Development Officer of the Battlefields Trust, the UK Charity dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Britain’s historic battlefields.
He is a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine and History Revealed Magazine and his published books include The Private Life of Palaces; Clash of Arms: Twelve English Battles, and Enemies at the Gate: English Castles under Siege.
Highlights of your history holiday
- Bath, the UK’s only entire city with UNESCO World Heritage status
- Lansdown Hill, where a Royalist army battled to a narrow victory
- Dyrham Park, a 17th century mansion with a strong Dutch influence
- Roundway Down, scene of a major Royalist victory
- Newbury, to view the sites of two famous encounters
- Donnington Castle, which held out against a Parliamentarian siege for 18 months
From your base in Bath, your expert guide takes you to a new destination every day.
This four-day tour costs from £1,199 per person, based on two sharing if you are taking part in the tours, and from £999 if you are not taking part in the tour.
There is no single supplement for individuals staying in single rooms, and a small extra charge for individuals in twin or double rooms.
Included in your holiday
- Expert guide
- Luxury hotel accommodation
- Executive minibus travel to all sites, with space so you can always have a spare seat next to you
- Entry to all attractions
- Breakfast and dinner each day
The next start date for this tour is 23 July 2021 (book here). You can also reserve your place on the 2022 tour, which starts on 29 April 2022 (book here).
Numbers are limited, reserve your place with a low 5% deposit and enjoy the full flexibility of our COVID guarantee.
AccommodationYou'll be spending much of your time exploring sights and attractions with your tour expert, so when you return to your hotel we know how important it is to be somewhere you can relax and refresh in comfort.
For this tour, you'll be staying in a luxury hotel in Bath. You'll have everything you need for a comfortable night's sleep with rooms that are ensuite and facilities including a TV, radio and complimentary wifi.
Each day we'll provide meeting times for tours, meals and evening activities, leaving you with time to enjoy your hotel or explore locally.
Your booking includes:
- Ensuite room
- Complimentary toiletries
- In-room tea & coffee making
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
There are extra charges for:
- All food and drink outside of breakfast and dinner
For transfers between all tour destinations we use large 17-22 seater executive minibuses so that the seat beside you can be empty.
Transfers during your tour
Transfers will be a luxury experience and your minibus will have comfortable reclining seats with safety belts, a fully operational air-conditioning system, an on-board refrigerator and a fully functioning toilet maintained throughout your journey.
Our drivers are friendly, smart, professional and punctual. so you are always in safe hands.
Solo travellers welcomeOur tours are perfect for solo travellers who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of a subject, and prefer the choice of being as solitary or social as you like. Each tour is a journey of an independent mind – fellow travellers will be intelligent, well-read, knowledgeable and like-minded people, and a mutual interest in a particular topic can lead to life-long friendships.
Read more about our welcome for solo travellers here.
Partners who don’t share your love of English Civil War history can book this holiday at a lower price that doesn’t include participation in our expert-led tours.
Options for non-touring partners
They’ll join the group for meals and evening activities, and can explore Bath at their own pace each day.
The most famous attraction of this wonderful city is the well-preserved Roman Baths complex. The site was once used for public bathing, and today visitors can take a tour, taste the spa water and enjoy afternoon tea at The Pump Room Restaurant.
Although the Roman Baths are no longer in use, you can head to Thermae Bath Spa for a day of pampering. There’s a rooftop pool that is fed by the city’s thermal waters, and day packages are available to use the treatment rooms, a wellness suite and restaurant.
Bath’s beautiful Georgian architecture is on show at the Royal Crescent, a sweeping semi circle of 30 homes overlooking an eye-catching lawn. One Royal Crescent is a period-styled museum.
Bath was frequently visited by novelist Jane Austen, and her life is detailed in a museum that is dedicated to her work. There’s also a Regency tea room where visitors can stop for a bite.
Another famous eating place is Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House. Dating back to 1482, this renowned tea room serves the famous sweet or savoury Sally Lunn bun.
Bath is filled with wonderful museums. The Holburne Museum presents a mix of fine and decorative art, and the Victoria Art Gallery has stunning collections from Turner and Gainsborough. The Fashion Museum presents 400-years of fashionable dress, from Georgian gowns to contemporary cuts.
For the best views of this amazing city, climb the spiral staircase of the tower at Bath Abbey. If you take a tour you’ll be given a behind-the-scenes peek at the church's clock face and bells.
Main image, Parliamentarians and Royalists in the English Civil War: The National Army Museum / Mary Evans Picture Library
Picture credits for this page
Landscape image, Donnington Castle: Piotr Grabalski/Shutterstock.com
Details of your four-day guided tour are provided below:
Your history holiday itinerary
We then venture to Dyrham Park, a 17th century mansion once owned by William Blathwayt, Secretary at War for King William III. The house reflects a strong Dutch influence. Blathwayt established the War office and was MP for Bath.
Lunch in the town of Devizes is followed by a visit to the local museum which has a range of English Civil war artefacts.
You’ll then visit Donnington Castle, now a ruin but the scene of a Parliamentarian siege in the Civil War, and in a great position with views across the valley to Newbury racecourse and beyond.