Catholic Shrines in the City and the Country
Experience the tour of a lifetime in England with Catholic Heritage Tours! It starts with a motor-coach from London to Cambridge, taking you to Catholic Shrines through the countryside west of London, and even to Stonehenge and back again. Meet your fellow pilgrims and enjoy the tour – we’ll do all the hard work.
Day 1: Flight to London
Depart today toward London, England. Meals will be served on board.
Day 2: London arrival – Cambridge
Welcome to London! Upon arrival at the airport, your tour escort will be there to welcome you and take you to your private motor coach. Travel to Cambridge, just a short trip away. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner as a pleasant opportunity to meet your fellow pilgrims and plan on the exciting days ahead. (WD)
Day 3: Cambridge: Excursion to Ely, Walsingham, and Norwich.
Start your trip in earnest with an early morning excursion out of Cambridge. First, visit Ely and its Cathedral with its famous Octagon Tower, superb Norman carvings and beautiful view of the Presbytery. From there, head to Walsingham to visit the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, a place of pilgrimage since medieval times. Originally founded in 1061, it began with an apparition of Our Lady to a noble widow, Lady Richeldis, asking that a shrine, identical to her house in Nazareth, be built there. Although destroyed during the Reformation, it was later rebuilt as a wayside chapel, and it is now the Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady. Complete today’s visits with Norwich, home of the mystic Julian of Norwich. She was the greatest mystic of her time, the early 15th C., and her writings detail an unusual theology which is similar to St. Francis of Assisi. Although not canonized by the Catholic Church, she has an official date, May 13, when she is honored. She is also honored in the Protestant Church and the Cathedral of Norwich, dedicated to her, is of that faith. Return to Cambridge with some time to relax before dinner. (BB, D)
Day 4: Cambridge-Ashford
After an early breakfast, a walking tour of historic Cambridge will provide an opportunity to see the Round Church, whose design is based on that of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Gonville and Caius, one of the oldest colleges, founded in the 14th C. The magnificent St. Mary’s Church, then today’s highlight: King’s College and its stunning King College Chapel, with magnificent windows, fan vaulted ceiling, and the famed altarpiece by Rubens. Then, to Queen’s College, through Clare College and Clare Bridge and along the Cam to St John’s College. After lunch, head to Ashford with a few stops along the way. First, Rochester, home of St. John Fisher who, along with St. Thomas More, was the only Bishop in England to oppose King Henry VIII. Visit the chapel built in his honor. Then, stop in Canterbury to see the place where St. Thomas Beckett was martyred in 1170 and visit the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral, with its beautiful stained glass windows, among other highlights. Continue to beautiful Dover, to visit its Castle, superbly positioned on top of the famous white cliffs. Enjoy a relaxing evening with dinner and overnight in Dover. (BB, D)
Day 5: Ashford – London
Depart for London, heading Northwest through Maidstone, a lovely town on the river Medway. Visit Leeds Castle, considered to be the most beautiful castle England. Begun in the 12th C., it has seen improvements over the years to become what it is today, and it is a true pleasure to visit. Continue to Aylesford to visit the Carmelite friary, referred to as The Friars, where the relics of St. Simon Stock, to whom Our Lady appeared to give the Scapular, are kept. After a peaceful walk on the grounds, board the motor coach and head to London for a mid-afternoon arrival. Free time and independent dinner in this city with a vibrant night life. (BB)
Day 6: London
Begin your exploration of this beautiful and exciting city with an orientation tour, to see London’s historic landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Then, walk from Westminster Abbey, where coronations have taken place since 1066, to the Catholic Cathedral, with its wonderful mosaics. Continue to St. Paul’s Cathedral, started in 1666, an artistic and architectural beauty. Dinner and overnight in London. (BB, D)
Day 7: London
A memorable day is planned on the river today, with a cruise which will take you downstream from the Houses of Parliament, with Big Ben dominating the skyline, to the Tower Bridge, the most recognizable landmark of London. See the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, HMS Belfast, Southwark Cathedral and the Tower of London, among other well-known sites. Disembark at the East side for a guided visit to the impressive Tower of London, including the Jewel House, where the magnificent Crown Jewels are kept, the White tower and the Chapel of St. John, a fine example of Norman Architecture. End the day looking over the river at the London Bridge before returning to the hotel for dinner. (BB, D)
Day 8: London – Stonehenge – Bath
Head out of the city and into the beautiful countryside west of London, toward Stonehenge, famous for its ancient monoliths which were used to calculate the eclipses and equinoxes nearly 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. Cross the Salisbury Plain to the seaside town of Bath, famous in the English romance novels of the 18th C. as the most sought after destination for those of prominence. After a guided visit to the Abbey, with its grand fan vaulted ceiling, explore this beautiful Georgian city on your own; be sure to stop by the naturally-heated spring waters at the spa, which made this city famous and gave it its name. Dinner is on your own, with overnight in Bath. (BB)
Day 9: Bath – Tintern – Tewkesbury – GreatMalvern – Stratford Upon Avon
Depart for Stratford Upon Avon, with several stops along the way. First stop is Tintern, where the Abbey, founded in the 12th C., though partly in ruins, still stands proudly, having inspired famous poets and painters. It was the second Cistercian foundation in Britain. Continue the journey to Tewkesbury where a wonderful visit awaits: The Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the finest Norman buildings in the country and the second largest parish in all of England. A guided visit will illustrate the picturesque story of the abbey and put on display its beautiful features. After lunch, a skip and a hop to Great Malvern to visit its priory, which displays some of the most important architectural components in England, including its stained-glass windows and Medieval floor and wall tiles. Finally, arrive at Stratford upon Avon past mid-afternoon. The town where Shakespeare was born will welcome you, and after a visit to his home, where he was born and died, enjoy some free time to walk the quaint streets before dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 10: Stratford Upon Avon – Lincoln – Petersborough – London
An early start on your last day in England. Travel to Lincoln, home to Englands third-largest cathedral, a magnificent and historically important building. After the visit, head to Petersborough which served as a stopping place for pilgrims on foot on route to Walsingham. The Cathedral is one of the most intact large Norman churches in England and is renowned for its imposing early English Gothic West Front which, with its three enormous arches, is without precedent. Buried beneath its paving is Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII. Travel to London to arrive in the late afternoon, then gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate your pilgrimage across England. Overnight in London.
Day 11: Return flight
After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the USA.
* (BB) Buffet Breakfast * (D) Dinner * (WD) Welcome Dinner * (FD) Farewell Dinner
Catholic Heritage Tours specializes in pilgrimage tours in historically rich European countries and cities. Call us today at (800) 290-3876 to see about forming a group, or contact us online any time.