A Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill | The Tour
“…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the
streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”
Sir Winston Churchill (4th June 1940, We Shall Fight on the Beaches speech)
Addressing the Houses of Parliament after the disastrous retreat of the British Expeditionary Forces during the Battle of France, the We Shall Fight on the Beaches speech is remembered as one of three wartime speeches that marked the zenith of Winston Churchill’s oratorical powers and his determination to lead Britain to victory over Hitler's Nazi Regime at 'whatever cost'.
In the preceding 9 days, approximately 338,000 Allied troops had been evacuated from the beaches of northern France, leaving behind around 34,000 troops to face death or the rest of the war in captivity. Almost all of the Army’s heavy equipment and vehicles were destroyed, leaving Britain exposed to a Nazi invasion.
Later that same month, France capitulated to the Nazi regime; Britain now stood alone against the might of the German war machine; the Battle for Britain had begun…
With Expert led tours of Blenheim Palace, the Cabinet War Rooms and Chartwell House and pre-lunch and dinner talks, A Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill | The Tour brings to life the fascinating story behind Britain’s greatest wartime leader.
From his early years as a war correspondent, sending back reports on military campaigns from far flung parts of the British Empire, to his ‘darkest hours’ during the Gallipoli campaign and the ill-faited invasion of Norway, through to the culmination of his achievements as WWII Warlord and post-war international Statesmen, the full gamut of Churchill’s lifetime 'highs and lows' will be explored.
You will also have the opportunity to examine a wide spectrum of themes; from his relationship with his father, Lord Randolph Churchill and the rest of the Marlborough family, to his mastery of the English language and his ‘charm’ diplomacy (particularly with reference to the transatlantic ‘Special Relationship), through to his passion for painting and how it helped him deal with the ‘black dog’ (Churchill’s own term for his depression), you will be able to get to the very heart of the matter; understand who was Churchill, what drove him and why his legacy is so important to us today.
"First things first. Get the champagne."
Churchill, 1931, New York (Churchill Central)
Dining experiences will be Churchillian in scope and taste, mixing fine English dishes with haute French cuisine and include afternoon tea at Blenheim Palace, lunches at the Houses of Parliament and Chartwell House and dinners* at some of London’s finest establishments that were frequented by Churchill. And of course Churchill’s favourite drinks, including Pol Roger Champagne will be on the menu.
Your hand-picked 4 star London hotel* has been selected for its impeccable high standards, quality of service and excellent attention to detail.
*Please enquire for details of the hotel and restaurants included in this tour
Photos courtesy of the Cabinet War Rooms, London; Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
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Day 1 Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s Early Life
Morning | Visit Blenheim Palace | Talk on Churchill's Early Life | Afternoon Tea at the Palace with talk on Churchill
"At Blenheim I took two very important decisions; to be born and to marry. I am content with the decision I took on both occasions..."
Sir Winston Churchill
This morning you will be transfered by coach to Blenheim Palace to learn about Churchill’s early life.
The visit starts with tea, coffee and biscuits served in a private room followed by a talk on Churchill and a private tour of the Palace.
Led by one of the palace’s key historians, you will learn all about how Churchill spent his time here and what it meant to him. It will highlight his connections with the palace and the strong relationships he formed with his family, including his admiration for his ancestor John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.
Afternoon | Lunch at the Palace | Visit Churchill Exhibition | Walk in Churchill's Footsteps Trail | Special Winston Churchill Premier Tea Served in the Indian Room | Visit Churchill's Grave at Bladon Church | Optional* Themed Tours
In the afternoon we visit the permanent Churchill exhibition which has recently been reinvigorated as part of the palace’s programme to celebrate his life.
This is followed by a Walk in Churchill's Footsteps Trail. Here you will be able to explore the history of Sir Winston Churchill across the Palace, Park and Formal Gardens.
A Special Winston Churchill Premier Tea will be served in the palace’s Indian Room before you take the palace shuttle service to Churchill's grave in the neighbouring village of Bladon.
During the afternoon there will be free time to explore the grounds at your own leisure. There is also the option to take other themed tours*.
Evening | Dinner in Central London
You will be transfered by coach to your central London hotel where you will be able to refresh before dinner in one of London’s finest restaurants**.
Your Expert lecturer will give a talk on Churchill focusing on his most famous speeches
Overnight | London
Meals included: L, D
* Please advise the Grand Cultural Tours sales representative during the booking process if you wish to partake in an optional tour at Blenheim Palace. These include (and are not limited to) the following:
- The Military Marlboroughs - This tour explores the Palace's involvement in the military from the 1st Duke's victory at the Battle of Blenheim to Sir Winston Churchill.
- The Battle of Blenheim - Gain an insight into the great battle after which Blenheim Palace was named, and learn about John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough for whom it was built.
- A Closer Look at Baroque - For those interested in the items that make up Blenheim's Baroque collection as well as how the baroque style influenced aspects of the Palace's design.
- Ceramics and Furniture - This talk and tour takes a closer look at some of the pieces that make up one of the finest antique furniture and porcelain collections in Europe, housed inside the Palace.
- Running a Great Estate - Visitors who want a glimpse into the day to day running of a great Estate will be enthralled by this behind-the-scenes tour.
** Please contact us for further details about restaurants inlcuded in the tour.
Day 2 Churchill: Politician and Wartime Leader
Morning | Early Morning Private Tour of the Houses of Parliament
"Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times."
Sir Winston Churchill
Today we discover Churchill 'the politician and war leader', starting with a private group visit of the Houses of Parliament. With a focus on Churchill’s political career, the tour emphasises Churchill’s relationship with Parliament and his renowned oratory skills.
Churchill led a long and eventful life during which Parliament played a central role. He even went so far as to described himself as ‘a child of the House of Commons’. Born in the same year that saw his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, first elected as an MP, he was exposed to parliamentary life from an early age.
Beginning in 1900, his own Commons career spanned 64 years, the longest in the 20th century. During this time he sat for two parties, represented five constituencies and contested twenty-one elections. In government, he held numerous ministerial positions and served as Prime Minister twice.
"Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king. He is an independent force in the world. Abandoned by his party, betrayed by his friends, stripped of his offices, whoever can command this power is still formidable."
Sir Winston Churchill
Following his death at the age of 90, Churchill received the rare honour of lying-in-state in Westminster Hall. Though this marked the end of his lifelong relationship with Parliament, Churchill’s impact continues to be felt here in a number of ways today.
Your Expert-led Parliament tour highlights include:
Westminster Hall - plaque on the floor where Churchill laid in state in 1965
St Stephen’s Hall - site of Commons Chamber before 1834 and where cross-bench debate originated, which Churchill fought to preserve
Lords Chamber - scene of Churchill’s Commons speeches from 1941-1950
Members Lobby – including Churchill statue and Churchill arch
No Lobby (view Churchill’s painting)
Commons Chamber - scene of Churchill’s Commons speeches from 1950 onwards
Royal Gallery and the Robing Room
Afternoon | Surprise lunch | Private Tour of Cabinet War Rooms
‘This is the room from which I will direct the war’.
Sir Winston Churchill (in reference to the Cabinet War Rooms)
After lunch it is a short walk to the Cabinet War Rooms (CWR), near St James’ Park, for a private tour led by a CWR guide with incomparable knowledge of the site, its history, stories and occupants’ lives. The tour offers an unparalleled opportunity to walk back in history as you are taken inside the historic rooms, behind the glass that general visitors only look through and see details only viewable up close, You will also have privileged access to where Winston Churchill, his War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff met and worked during the Second World War.
The CWR was the inner sanctum of British government during the WWII and was used for Pime Ministerial meetings, attended by a select few ministers and advisers of Churchill's War Cabinet as well as his Chiefs of Staff. Churchill would preside over a coalition of ministers, drawn from all sides of Parliament, from the large wooden seat in the centre of the room; you will be able to get close and examine the scratches he made on the arm rest during tense meetings.
The next stop on the tour is inside the Map Room, the central hub of operations throughout the Second World War. This room was manned 24 hours a day from a week before war broke out in 1939 until the lights were switched off in August 1945, six years later, and is preserved just as it was in 1945. You will be astonished by the atmosphere and the small details of the room, many not visible to the general visitors. You will be able to examine the convoy map and see the tens of thousands of tiny pin holes showing precisely tracked convoy movements around the world.
Other items of interest include rationed sugar cubes, carefully squirreled away by one of the Map Room officers who forgot them when he left in August 1945. Take in the original paperwork on the tables, carefully documenting the work of the Map Room.
The tour ends in the award-winning Churchill Museum, where you will be shown highlights including unique personal items belonging to Churchill such as his ‘siren suit’, medals, and the flag that draped his coffin as he lay in state.
Transfer to the hotel to freshen up before heading for dinner in central London.
Evening | Dinner with Talk on Churchill as War Leader
Dinner with Talk on 'Churchill the Politician, Great Orator and War Leader'
Overnight | London
Meals included: B, L, D
Day 3 Churchill’s life at Chartwell
Morning | Travel to Chartwell House, Kent
“A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.”
Sir Winston Churchill
The family home and place of inspiration for Sir Winston Churchill, Chartwell remains much as it did when he lived here. With its stunning views over the Kent countryside, Sir Winston drew inspiration from Chartwell until the end of his life.
Pictures, books and personal mementoes evoke the career and wide-ranging interests of this great statesman, writer, painter and family man, while the hillside gardens reflect Churchill’s love of the landscape and nature. They include the lakes he created, Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden, and Marycot, the playhouse built especially for his youngest daughter.
You will start the day with a tour of Chartwell’s gardens which includes visiting Sir Winston Churchill’s Studio (where he painted), the Golden Rose walk, the wall built by Sir Winston, the lakes and the water features.
The Studio is teeming with Churchill paintings, most unframed and in various stages of completion, that have been saved for the nation to see and enjoy. You will find recognisable landscapes from Chartwell but also landscapes Churchill worked on during his travels to Egypt, Paris and Marrakech.
Built as a space for Churchill to paint without interruption, the Studio was was also a blessing for Clementine Churchill, as it stopped her husband dropping paint on the carpets in the house!
Afternoon | Lunch at Chartwell followed by Visit of Chartwell House and Studio
After lunch at Chartwell, you will enjoy a self-guided visit to the house making your own way through Churchill’s family home followed by a well-deserved cream tea consisting of a freshly baked scone, jam, clotted cream and a tea or coffee in Mrs Landemare’s café.
Tour ends with a transfer to central London hotel.
Meals included: B, L
Photos courtesy of the Cabinet War Rooms, London; Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
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The services of an English-speaking Expert on Churchill throughout duration of tour
The services of a professional UK Tour Manager throughout duration of tour
2 nights in 4-star hotel accommodation with breakfast
2 dinners & 3 lunches
All activities and tours as described
Medical and travel insurance
Allen Packwood BA, MPhil (Cantab), is a Fellow of Churchill College at the University of Cambridge, the Director of the Churchill Archives Centre, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He was awarded an OBE for services to archives and scholarship in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The Churchill Archives Centre is located in the grounds of Churchill College, and is home to the papers of Sir Winston Churchill, Baroness Thatcher, Sir John Major and almost six hundred of their contemporaries: politicians, diplomats, civil servants, military leaders and scientists of the Churchill era and beyond. It is still collecting. Allen likes to joke that it is the equivalent of four American Presidential Libraries!
Allen is a qualified archivist and has worked at the Churchill Archives Centre since September 1995, succeeding Dr Piers Brendon as Acting Keeper in 2001, before being appointed Director in 2002. Allen was co-curator of “Churchill and the Great Republic”, a Library of Congress exhibition, which ran from February – July 2004, and of “Churchill: The Power of Words”, a display at the Morgan Library in New York from June till September 2012.
Allen has also organised many events and lectures, including the successful conference on “The Cold War and its Legacy”, staged over two days at Churchill College in November 2009, and attended by senior representatives from China, Germany, Roumania, the Russian Federation and the United States. He also helped to organise Churchill 2015, a programme of events commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston’s death, and was successful in getting the Churchill archive inscribed on the UNESCO international register for the Memory of the World.
He is the author of several articles, co-wrote the publication accompanying the Library of Congress display, edited the guide to the Churchill Archives Centre, and has lectured extensively on Churchill in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Allen’s job has taken him to Bermuda, Cuba, Singapore, Hong Kong and in 2011 he accompanied Celia Sandys and Lady Soames on a Chasing Churchill Mediterranean Cruise.
Hand-picked 4-star hotel in central London with breakfast, selected for its high quality accommodation and service levels.
Passports and Visas
If visiting from outside the UK, please check with your respective government offices for passport and visa requirements for entering the United Kingdom.
Travel insurance is a pre-requisite for booking this tour.
The currency of the UK is the Pound sterling.
Dates & Prices
* Please click here for more information regarding flights for this tour.