I wanted to visit Woburn Abbey. That was the starting point for this itinerary.
I looked around and realised I could spend 2-3 weeks in this part of England visiting places. We would have 2 days.
Having spotted a Travelodge near Banbury that would enable me to jump on a train to London and D to whizz back up the M1 to Yorkshire, I set about routeplanning.
This itinerary dates from August 2011.
Depart central London at 0830
Woburn Abbey (Bedfordshire)
- 1 ½ hour away – at Milton Keynes, just off M1 (arrive 1000)
Home of the Dukes of Bedford. Commercialised in the 1950s into a safari park and house attraction.
- 2011: 15 April to 2 October – gardens 1000-1800, abbey 1100-1730
- £12.95 during 2011 – free with HHA cards
- Woburn Abbey, Woburn Park MK17 9WA (Sat nav MK17 9QN, Crawley Road)
- Follow signs to Woburn Abbey from the M1 junction 12 or 13; from the A5, follow signs to Woburn village. Woburn Abbey is signposted from here.
- Depart 1230 (although you could make a day of it and go to the Safari Park too)
Canons Ashby House (Northamptonshire)
- 50 mins from Woburn Abbey (arrive 1330)
Canons Ashby was the family home of the Drydens from Elizabethan times. It is presented as if it were being seen through the eyes of Victorian, Sir Henry Dryden.
- Canons Ashby, Daventry NN11 3SD (Canons Ashby Road)
- Opening times 2011: 23 Jul – 4 Sep: 1100-1700 , everyday except Thurs
- House and grounds: adult £8.50 (£7.70); free with National Trust membership
- Depart 1430 – not that much to see/do
- we would have substituted our stop here for Stowe House (HHA) and Gardens (NT), had both the house & gardens been open, which sadly they weren’t this Saturday.
Farnborough Hall (Warwickshire)
- 30 mins from Canons Ashby (arrive 1500)
Honey-coloured stone house with exquisite plasterwork and treasures collected during the Grand Tour, surrounded by a landscaped garden with lake and walks.
- Open 2-5.30pm (last entry 4.30pm)
- Farnborough, near Banbury, Oxfordshire OX17 1DU (Dasset Road)
- £5.60 (free with National Trust membership)
- during our visit, the Village Hall was serving cream teas during the Hall’s opening hours
Dinner in Banbury (15 mins from Farnborough Hall) – we parked outside the cinema at the top of the High Street and next to Banbury Cross (there’s also a shopping centre with lots of parking but I’m not sure when the car park closes)
Hotel (15 mins from Banbury town centre)
- Travel Lodge Cherwell Valley (£35 for the room, thank you Travel Lodge!)
- Moto Service Area, M40 Motorway, Northampton Road, Ardley, Cherwell Valley, Nr Bicester – Junction 10 of M40
- good services with M&S, WH Smith etc.
- 1hr from hotel; arrive 0945 (time for cup of coffee)
Elizabethan Manor house with Georgian alterations, surrounded by arts & crafts garden, comprising ‘rooms’, created by Lawrence Johnston during the early 20th century. The first property acquired by the National Trust primarily for the garden.
- open July/August – everyday 10-6
- Free with National Trust membership
- Hidcote Bartrim GL55 6LR: nr Mickleton village, 4 miles north-east of Chipping Campden, 1 mile east of B4632 (off B4081)
- Depart 1100 (only two rooms in the house are open plus the garden – the visit takes an hour, more if you stop in the restaurant)
Upton House (Oxfordshire)
- 35 mins from Hidcote, arrive 1145 (house has tours 11-1, free flow from 1pm)
Epitome of 1930s country house style, owned by a Royal Dutch Shell heir and director of the National Gallery, remodelled to house his extensive and eclectic art collection.
- near Banbury, OX15 6HT: A422, 7 miles north of Banbury, 12 miles south-east of Stratford-upon-Avon
- Entry free with National Trust membership
- depart 1345
- Banbury, Oxon, OX15 5EB (15 mins from Upton), arrive 1400
Dating from the 1300s (when there was a medieval hall here), the house remains largely unchanged since Elizabethan times and has been in the continuous ownership of the Fiennes family since the 1500s. Expect a good welcome here – it’s a moated manor house rather than a castle. And photos are allowed inside (mine to follow in due course).
- Head to Shipston on Stour then, after about two miles, turn right in Broughton village at the crossroads by the Saye & Sele Arms pub and follow the signposts to Broughton Castle. (Sat Nav: Main Road)
- July and August 2011: Wed, Thur, Sun & b/h Mondays; 1400-1700 (last admission 1630)
- Entry free with HHA membership
- cream tea in the cafe
- depart 1600
Banbury Station to London (10 mins from Broughton)