Alison Weir Tours

Tudor Tapestry



After a three-year gap, focussing on other periods, AWT are returning to the Tudor age for a brilliant progress visiting historical sites of Tudor England that we have (mostly) so far not explored. This tour will contain all the specialities for which AWT have become renowned: luxury historic hotels, lavish group dinners, an array of top historians and speakers, and a broad variety of historic sites, with private guided tours and privileged access to places not normally open to the public.
Responding to guest feedback, our aim is now to offer more time to enjoy the hotels, and courtesy coaches on two days, to allow guests flexibility of choice in opting for a packed itinerary of historical enrichment or a more relaxed experience.  We will be staying at just three hotels, to avoid too many change-overs and shifts of luggage, and (in response to demand) to give guests the chance to take advantage of the amenities the hotels offer.
3rd to 12th October 2017 - please note that Sarah Gristwood will be leading this tour, and Alison Weir will attend on Days 1, 9 and 10. Sarah will be accompanied by full-time historians Nicola Tallis and Julian Humphrys.

Since the tour ends on the anniversary of the birth of Edward VI, we wanted to celebrate that with those of you who are planning to stay in London for an extra night at your own cost. At no extra charge, we are offering an additional day out at Hampton Court on 13th October, with an included lunch and the opportunity of gaining privileged access to the room in which Edward VI was born. The Hampton Court day will be hosted by Alison Weir (morning) and Siobhan Clarke (all day). The timetable will be as follows: 
10.00   Arrive Hampton Court Palace (guests make their own way)
11.00   Tour the Tudor route with Alison Weir OR tour the William & Mary route with Siobhan Clarke (for those who have done the Tudor route before)
13.00   3-course lunch at the Square Olive, near the Palace, followed by free time to explore the gardens and visit the shops.
15.30   Privileged access to the room in which Prince Edward was born on 12th October 1537. (Capacity limited to 20; now full)
15.45/16.00 'Edward VI, the boy King' lecture with Siobhan Clarke* 
17.00   tea/coffee will be served.
18.00   Hampton Court Palace closes.
THE TUDOR TAPESTRY TOUR will last for nine nights, and we will be staying at:
Hever Castle, Kent (3 nights) 5*
The Swan, Lavenham, Suffolk (3 nights) 4*
Oakley Hall Hotel, Hampshire (3 nights) 4*

Included meals:
Buffet lunch at the Kingsway Hall Hotel, London
Gala welcome dinner in the Dining Hall at Hever Castle, Kent
Dinner at Penshurst Place, Hever, Kent
Lunch at Leeds Castle, Kent
Dinner at the Plough Inn, Leigh, Kent
Lunch at Layer Marney Tower, Essex
Dinner at the Swan Hotel, Lavenham, Suffolk
Lunch at the Tudor Barn, Eltham, Kent
Dinner at Oakley Hall Hotel, Hampshire
Gala farewell dinner at the Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Afternoon tea at the Kingsway Hall Hotel, London
Hever Castle, Kent
Ightham Mote or Chartwell, Kent
Penshurst Placw, Kent
Leeds Castle, Kent
Knole, Kent
Layer Marney Tower
Bury St Edmund’s, Suffolk: St Mary’s Church and Moyses Hall Museum
Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk
Cambridge, its Tudor Royal Colleges and King’s College Chapel
Eltham Palace, Kent
Winchester Cathedral, Wolvesley Palace, the Great Hall, Winchester, and the Hospital of St Cross
Priors Dean Manor House, Hampshire (privately owned, not open to the public)
The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Windsor Castle

We are delighted to announce that historian Nicola Tallis and military historian Julian Humphrys will be joining us for this tour.



"The tour with Alison has been amazing. I am loving every minute of it. The gifts are lovely and very appreciated."

"This tour was spectacular, from the wondrous accommodation in the Astor wing in Hever Castle to the private Tudor mansion of Prior’s Dean and the jaw-dropping visit and dinner at the Mary Rose. Alison Weir tours are addictive."

"It was wonderful. I sincerely look forward to seeing and working with you in future".

"Thank you and your wonderful colleagues for a lovely tour."

"From the pre tours to the lovely gifts, you [Siobhan] seem to be a critical member of this fantastic team. Totally pleased with all."

"John is fantastic and a true professional!"

"[We] had an absolutely fabulous time. We felt so taken care of during the whole trip. In fact, it's sort of hard to get used to going back to taking care of ourselves. Where's John? Everything was better than we anticipated. It will take me weeks to chew over all the information I learned. Alison was just wonderful."

"The tour was made so by your [John's] attention to detail and travel expertise. Thank you [John] and Jo for making my first trip with Alison a huge success.  It will not be my last! Enjoy your much needed rest knowing you provided a unique experience for many lovers of English history."

"The tour was brilliant! (As were you and Sarah, Nicola, John, Jo & Dave). I'm more energized about the Tudors than ever!"

"We appreciated the warm welcome we received and the kindness of everyone in making us feel comfortable. Siobhan [was] always polite, professional, and encouraging. Alison made us all feel as if we were guests in her home, welcoming us with gifts at every turn, answering all of our questions, and even asking us each morning how we slept!  As I sat across from her at dinner one night, I thought about our bookshelves that are lined with Alison Weir titles and about what a renowned author she is, yet is a down-to-earth person who genuinely cares about each of her guests.  I appreciated the flexibility that Alison demonstrated when she realized a few times that too many activities were included in the day and took a vote from everyone about whether to revise the itinerary.  Also, including independent time was important for all of us.  Prior to the tour, I know she offered the option of Layer Marney as an alternative in case people felt that Cambridge would be too taxing.  It was an outstanding choice! And then there is John. And Jo. They were both so remarkable that I am having trouble finding the words to express my gratitude to them. In searching for words to express my feelings about them, I come to the words ‘comfort’ and ‘reassurance.’  We and all the guests thoroughly enjoyed the cheerful banter. I felt as if, for a brief period of time, we were a part of the Alison Weir Tours family".

"Thanks again Alison Weir, Sarah Gristwood, And Nicola Tallis! I'm quite inspired!"

"I had a great time and really enjoyed the people in your organizations. Alison went above and beyond to ensure that everyone got the most out of the trip and there could be a more accommodating person in the world than John. Jo, Nicola and Sarah were likewise very thoughtful and helpful, and I remain in awe of Dave’s skill at the wheel. For me, the best part of the Tour was listening to the insights offered by the authors that spoke on the bus trips and in the evenings. I think my favorite events were the two dinners that I sat next to Alison and could pepper her with questions. As for the places we went to, they were generally wonderful and informative. The accommodations and the food were superior and the bus rides, while long, were made interesting by the beautiful countryside and lively stories and talks. I can see why so many people come back again and again for your Tours. I hope that we get a another chance to experience Alison’s hospitality in the future."

"As always, I had a wonderful time. I appreciate the flexibility! Thanks to everyone for such a terrific trip!"

"Your tour was the dream of a lifetime for me. I had the most wonderful time. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the care and concern I felt from all of you. John & Jo, you took care of so many odd ball things for me. I felt that even if I could not, you were willing and able to handle anything I threw at you.
Alison, Nicola and Sarah, you had so much information and you were so willing to share it. I loved the lectures on the bus. We were not just sitting mindlessly. We were learning all the time. Siobhan, the excursions were just magical. I learned so much that I had missed on my first trip. You did a fantastic job and were worth every penny! While I had been to Hampton, Windsor and the Tower before, I never got so much out of it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

"The tour surpassed all expectation and can't find the words to express how pleased I was. It was a life changing experience. The care, attention and details were spot on! LOVE the guest lectures and having them on the bus was splendid! Bravo Alison Weir Tours!"

"My heartfelt gratitude to you all for your patience, understanding and generous assistance during our wonderful journey together. You were always thoughtful and willing to help, You could not have been a better group with whom to travel, and with luck, I will see you all again in 2018."

"This could not have been a more wonderful experience! The entire trip was so beautifully planned and carried out, every minute was a joy. Loved the hotels, the meals, the excursions, and the company. But most of all loved the talks and tours by Alison, Sarah and Nicola. When people ask how the trip went I say - "Imagine going on tour with your favorite rock stars - priceless!" Our heartfelt thanks to Alison, Sarah, Nicola, Siobhan, John, Jo, Julian and all the wonderful guest speakers for making this the trip of a life time!"

"I’ve been racking my brain but I can’t come up with any suggestions for improvements to the Tudor Tapestry tour - In fact I hope I don’t gush too much! The abundance and remarkable sites and speakers, as well as the quality of the hotels, meals and transportation, exceeded my high expectations. 
In addition I especially liked:
-the obvious care shown by Alison and the staff who both traveled with us and who worked behind the scenes to ensure our comfort and enjoyment
-the shuttle bus offers for those who wanted more time at the hotel vs those who wanted to see everything
-the willingness and ability to smoothly change the schedule when needed
-the speakers on the bus who made the long rides fly by
-the good-humor and friendliness of everyone
-the gifts - I loved the gifts!
This tour expanded the Tudor world for me."

"I enjoyed everything! I especially appreciate the flexibility the staff showed at the end of the tour to reconsider elements (given traffic, etc.) and as a first-time visitor to London, it was especially nice to visit Windsor Castle. The sites were magnificent, and I think the lectures were a great introduction to wherever we were going, seeing, or experiencing. I also like that staff provide corrected versions of some of the guides' comments... The accommodations were great. I felt spoiled in all the right ways, and enjoyed experiencing Tudors as a living history. Instead of satiating my appetite for history, it has only increased it. My many thanks to all, who worked so tirelessly to make such a memorable and fantastic tour. They made it look and feel effortless, which I'm sure is far from the truth. Alison Weir Tours an unforgettable and magical experience."

"I am still walking on air from the experience - the sights, all the information and being in the company of such incredibly accomplished and knowledgable people. Everything about this tour surpassed any expectations I may have held. The guest speakers were terrific and David Starkey at the Mary Rose Museum the last evening was just over the top and truly unforgettable. What I really especially enjoyed and benefited from was the talks on the bus. Lstening to Alison and our guest historians enroute was entertaining and enriching.  It made the time pass quickly and was so informative. Thank you to All for this absolutely incredible experience and many new friendships."

"This trip was AMAZING. 5 stars!!! Historians were my favorite part. I felt so privileged to be able to hear from them both on the bus (loved that) and at the sites we visited. I also thoroughly enjoyed the talks after dinner. Every single talk was valuable, fascinating and appreciated. If I could change anything it would be to lengthen and have more!!! It's the combination of lectures, site briefings, the sites themselves and the chance to ask questions or discuss with historians afterward that is so fantastic and sets AWT above all else. The Tudor Dreamers troop were fantastic and so interesting. Loved everyone who spoke - especially Alison (she's why we were there after all). LOVED witnessing historians sharing their insights and different viewpoints on the tour. Ate that up!!! Had to pinch myself - such a privilege.I can't express enough the immense pleasure and privilege this tour was to experience. A HUGE thank you to everyone involved with AWT."

"Alison, you are a ROCKSTAR! Having a seat at the front of the bus gave me a true appreciation for all you and the team does to ensure a great tour. Keep doing what you do Alison! We love you. Thank you for a truly treasured experience!"

"Our Tudor Tapestry Tour was absolutely brilliant. Alison, Sarah, Nicola and guest speakers were perfect. John and Jo brilliant.  John's concern for my distilled water especially amazing. Greatly admired Dave Morph too. Loved The Swan the most because we had time to walkabout Lavenham and experience the town but also thought Hever Castle and Oakley Hall were amazing. Wouldn't change anything. Every Tudor historical stop was brilliant, I especially enjoyed the tours of personal homes Alison arranged, very special."

"Our trip this year was beyond extraordinary and the most unbelievable access to sites and people I only dreamed of seeing and meeting. Missing you and your wonderful team."

You can read Susan Breen's article, 'On Tour With Alison Weir', here:


"Still pinching ourselves that it really happened. To see the special things that we saw and to be in the room where Edward VI was born and hear Siobhan’s talk was wonderful - many thanks. As for Tudor Tapestry I had a complete blast. I loved it all. The AWT staff cannot be commended highly enough for all that that they did. From the organisation of Siobhan, the ever so warm welcome and farewell from Alison, the lovely and bubbly personality of Nicola, the immense knowledge and professionalism of Sarah, and the fun and engaging and very informative Julian - you all worked so hard to make the tour special and it definitely worked. John and Jo were superb in ensuring that it all worked like a dream - I know that there is a huge amount of organisation behind the scenes and John and Jo made it looked so smooth from our perspective - they are fantastic. They are very welcoming in their approach and also ensure that there is a lot of fun along the way. The aspect of the staff that worked really well on the bus was where there was conflict, such as did Richard III do it, and was Jane Grey really a Queen? The accommodation was all good. The last night was so special. The sights we visited were all wonderful - I loved them all. The guest speakers were all so very good in their own ways and really added to the tour. The highlight of the tour would be the special entries that we obtained such as Katherine's chapel at St Georges, seeing the items at Hampton Court and dining at the Mary Rose - experiences I will never forget. Being able to see such interesting places that others don't see is wonderful and makes you feel very special. The gifts were lovely - a very nice little touch. Overall I could not recommend AWT highly enough. The staff especially are what makes the difference - they work so well as a team and everything goes so smoothly. The places we saw were superb, the accommodation excellent and the information that is provided along the way so very interesting and informative. I could not recommend AWT highly enough to anyone who is fortunate enough to secure a place on a tour. Thanks to AWT for making my holiday so very special."

"What a most remarkable trip. Thanks for the most wonderful time. I miss you all already."

"Regarding the tour, what can I say?  It was everything I hoped for and you along with John made the preparations for the tour easy.  Sarah, Nicola and Julian were fabulous and I could not believe the guest speakers!  What a treat!"

"All involved are to be commended for content, standard, organisation and attention to detail."

"The staff/speakers are always best in class, the areas you are able to show us are always over the top. I loved all the hotels. It was my second time at Hever and always a joy. The Mary Rose night was a big highlight."

"Tudor Tapestry was a wonderful tour. The itinerary, the historians, the hotels, the sites - all were first rate. I always feel so privileged to be part of AW Tours.  The extras at some of the sites that only we get, such as the St George’s Chapel tour, make it so special.  I loved the more relaxed schedule and flexibility options available if needed. I also want to say how kind everyone at AWT was."

"I enjoyed the tour very much, especially Layer Marney and Priors Dean, because they are still being used as they were originally intended, as family homes and I think everyone can appreciate and relate to that. (I wasn't the only one who could imagine myself ensconced in Priors Dean, especially!) The three places of accommodation were exceptional, my favourite being The Swan, again I think because of the feeling of intimate warmth.Many thanks for all your hard work and organisation."

"We had a marvellous time. And can't wait to do it again. I loved the all the access to Sarah, Nicola, and Julian. They really made the trip. Also enjoyed all the guest historians that joined us throughout the trip. It was great to meet all the people that fill my bookshelves. My favourites were the days at Hever. Although I also enjoyed being in Lavenham at the Swan where we could get out a little on our own. Also thanks for taking us out on local tours before and after. I am so excited that we saw the alter cloth and the hat. Can't wait to join everyone on another trip."

"I enjoyed everything about the Tudor Tapestry Tour!  It was all a delight! I particularly enjoyed the spontaneous and good-humored debates between the historians. Thank you again for everything."

"Sarah, Nicola and Julian, you did a truly outstanding job in leading the tour. Not only does your combined knowledge add tremendously to the experience, your kindness and caring for each and every guest is appreciated! Friends old and new make it so special! Fabulous and fun tour!!"

"The whole tour was excellent! We had such fabulous experiences! I don't think that all of the special opportunities that we had have even set in yet!! That is due in no small part to all of you, and above and beyond efforts to make it so truly special for the guests."

"Thank you to Alison, Sarah, Nicola, Joanna, John, and Julian and all our wonderful Tudor Tapestry adventurers for the most excellent of holidays!"

"It’s so difficult to sum up the tour in few words. If there were only 2 or 3 highlights, it would be easy but that would discount the incredible events that were included. I am still amazed by the access we receive. Each delight is only shadowed by another delight. As I reviewed the itinerary, it greatly discounts the amount of shock and awe that occurs. The itinerary already looks special in comparison to other tours. To call it tour is almost a fallacy. A tour is what a tourist does to be escorted around, see some sights, shop, takes pictures, perhaps learn a few things from the volunteer guides. But AWT is not a tour group as much as it is a historical conference or a writer’s conference. You would only need to add a workshop and it would be the most exquisite and enriching conference around. Even in professional conferences, you may have 1 keynote speaker. With AWT, you have access to more first-class historians in the span of 2 weeks than many would have access to in a lifetime. I do fully appreciate the amount of work and coordination involved. The sites round out the Tudor period from the more “modest” to the grand. The preparation of the itinerary is thoughtful. Logistics are well executed. Guests are welcomed and inspired.
 Many thanks again for the extraordinary talks with David Starkey and Robert Hutchinson, access to Emmanuel College, arranging to enter Katherine of Aragon’s chapel, walking in Victoria’s steps on the roof of St George’s, and playing tennis on the royal courts. Even the less “exclusive” sights of Winchester Cathedral, King’s College, and Hospital of St Cross were just stunning. Favorites like Ellie Woodacre, Anna Whitelock, Hever Castle still do not get old and are enjoyable all the same. The day at St George’s sapped my soul. I couldn’t even force myself to look at the grounds or the dollhouse (also seen those before). That is more excitement than I can take. I had such eye strain from taking it all in. I still haven’t worn contacts since that day.  Although this is your profession – and each of you are truly professional – I cannot express my thanks for sharing your lives, thoughts, research, and time with me."

"It was truly wonderful, Alison!"

"Last night marked the 35th Anniversary of the raising of the Mary Rose. Celebrated at this gorgeous reception with stunning friends. Thank you Alison Weir for bringing us together."

"And the piece de resistance - a behind the scene tour of St George's Chapel at Windsor. Including a visit to the room built by Henry so Katherine of Aragon could view the services and a rest stop in the seats of the Knights of the Garter! Alison and Company have outdone themselves once again. Thank you, thank you!"

"Many thanks for an outstanding tour Alison, Sarah, Nicola, John, and Jo."

"The trip was so much fun, I didn't want to leave! Thanks for a great tour, everything was really wonderful!  The Hampton Court day was really spectacular in particular!"

"Thank you all for a wonderful experience. You far exceeded expectations in every respect. Special thanks to John and Jo who looked after us in all the small details."

"What a fantastic tour! The selected sites were terrific and it was such a treat to meet the owners of Layer Marney and Priors Dean and have them show us around. Also, loved the special surprises at Hampton Court. I have to say, the best thing about AWT is the special access to sites and historians. The luxury is nice, but having such access makes these tours unforgettable. Dining and chatting with the likes of Dr Starkey and Dr. Hutchison was definitely on the bucket list. The pace of the Tudor tour was perfect. I liked that we stayed in each hotel for 3 nights and there was more free time to explore."

"A huge thank you to Alison Weir, Nicola Tallis, Sarah Gristwood, Julian Humphrys, Siobhan Clarke, John and Joanna Marston and all of the guest historians for this unforgettable experience! Also, a big shout out to our coach driver extraordinaire, David Morph Ward, who got us safely through the crowded streets of London and the narrow and twisting roads of the countryside!"

"We thought Alison had pulled out all the stops but found she had saved the absolute best for last. A surprise visit to the conservation rooms at the palace complete with a viewing of a hat believed to be Henry VIII's and a tapestry discovered in a church that they believe was once Elizabeth I's dress."

"We thoroughly enjoyed this amazing Tudor Tapestry Tour.  Alison’s meticulous planning and execution made for a trip beyond our expectations. I never cease to be amazed at the experiences on these tours that we could never get anywhere  else. The exclusive entries into places like the library at Emmanuel College and the conservation rooms at Hampton Court were just two of the unique and impressive experiences on this trip. The pre and post excursions hosted by Siobhan were well done, enjoyable and educational. We very much enjoyed the relaxed schedule of the tour and the offer of the courtesy coach if we needed more time to relax. That said, we couldn’t resist the full schedule. We didn’t want to miss a thing. The accommodations and meals were five star. John and Jo took such good care of us, we could truly relax and enjoy our trip without worry. Traveling with such amazing historians as Sarah, Julian, and Nicola made the trip not just very entertaining, but an opportunity to experience history in an exciting way. The talks on the bus and the guest historians' presentations were fascinating. All of the sites were extraordinary, and we especially enjoyed the visits to the homes Layer Marney and Priors Dean.  The tours given by the owners who live there gave us a unique insight.   And then there was the visit and dinner at the Mary Rose Museum, a truly spectacular and memorable event. Thank you to everyone at AWT for another incredible experience."

"Your Tudor Tour was the highlight of my year! Thanks for providing such an amazing experience."

"October’s trip was the best ever!!!!"

"Your Tudor Tour in May was an amazing experience and the start of a yearly addiction."

"Alison, meeting you and experiencing the Amazing Tudor Tapestry Tour were 2 of the best memories I have for 2017!"

"What a wonderful experience it was! A good mix of busy days plus some free time, and the sequence of the hotels and logistics was certainly planned very efficiently!  All of the historians were great of course, and the additional authors like Elizabeth Norton, Anna Whitelock, and of course David Starkey were really wonderful!"

Friendly Elegance

"I wanted to give you some of the feedback you requested before memories start to fade. I had a truly lovely time in many different ways. The staff of AWT is simply wonderful! The historians are brilliant. Before the tour started, I thought that I had done so much reading on my own over the years that I was unlikely to find new information on the tour, but not so. Every lecture, from the first one on the bus heading to Hever to the last at Hampton Court, presented facts that were either new to me or offered perspectives that I had not considered previously. For someone like me who drinks in this information like a plant does water, I was in my element! And not only did we get this caliber of historical expertise from Alison, Sarah, Nicola,Julian and Siobhan, but also from the visiting historians (to mention a few: Dr. Starkey, Tracy Borman, and Eleri Lynn, who were equally as mind-blowing in terms of their stature, reputation, and the quality of their lectures.
   It was clear that great care was taken in the selection of all the places we visited. All were hugely engaging and I think that the mere thought of some – like Hever Castle, Winchester Cathedral, and the Hospital of Saint Cross – will elicit feelings of calm and peacefulness in me for many years to come. The town of Lavenham was simply delightful. Access to Katherine of Aragon’s Chantry in St George’s Chapel – which is not normally open to the public -- was an extraordinary experience. How many visitors actually get inside the curatorial department of Hampton Court and see Henry VIII’s hat or talk with conservators as they work on what is likely a piece of Elizabeth I costume? And on what other tour can one expect to be taken to a private home (one that happens to be Tudor), be first shown around by the chatelaine, and then be asked to join her in a glass of local wine? And how many visitors have experienced our spectacular approach to Penshurst, just as dusk was falling with lit torches to guide our way, to enjoy champagne in the Great Hall and dinner in the Sunderland Room? How can one feel but incredibly special at being given private tours of glorious places – like the Mary Rose, Hever, and Penshurst? As an American, I had only read about the system of higher education in England. What better way to learn it than by following Julian as he took us behind the scenes of Emmanuel College, Cambridge?
  The accommodations were wonderful, with Hever my absolute favorite. The food and drink were superb. John took care of everything and always did it with a smile on his face and a hand held out to help. Jo was so helpful too – especially in my hour of need! The gifts were lovely, well-chosen, and unexpected! If made to describe these aspects of tour in two words, they would be “friendly elegance”.
  I think the point I wish to make is that AWT doesn’t just take visitors to known tourist sites; it takes them beyond those sites to experiences they would not otherwise have and with information and insight to make that experience extraordinary. Luxury accommodation only serves to enhance the experience. Thank you so much for including me on this wonderful tour and I look forward to joining other Alison Weir Tours in the future."