The Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots Tour

10th - 15th September 2023

Fully Escorted Tours | Small Groups As Standard | Financial Failure Protection cover on all Tour Bookings | All Breakfasts and Dinners Included

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The Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots Tour
Queens. Cousins. Rivals.

Explore the lives of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots over this luxury 6 day/5 night tour.

As part of a small group, we explore the fascinating relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. We visit fascinating historical places and are joined along the way by eminent historians and expert guides.

Gareth Russell, historian and best-selling author accompanies Philippa, your dedicated Tour Manager, as our resident historian and co-host. Stay in luxury accommodation, 3 nights at The Arden Hotel, Stratford-Upon-Avon and 2 nights at Hever Castle, in Kent.

Our itinerary includes visits to many historical sites and a two-night stay at Hever Castle, the childhood home of Elizabeth I's mother, Anne Boleyn.

Exclusive access and guided tours of the Lord Leycester Hospital, Harvington Hall, and Hever Castle, an audience with both Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots (the incredible Lesley Smith) and dinner in the Great Hall of Hever Castle, are just a few things you can look forward to on this tour, run by British History Tours.

Take a look at the detailed itinerary, below to see all of the fascinating and immersive activities you can look forward to!

During our day at Tutbury Castle you will also have the opportunity to dress as Tudor Royalty.

You will arrive everywhere in comfort and style in our luxury air-conditioned coach, included for the duration of the tour.

Tour Highlights

  • The Tour Historian is best-selling author, Gareth Russell 

  • Talks from Gareth Russell and Dr Estelle Paranque

  • Hidden Hever, After-Hours Tour of Hever Castle

  • Private Performance by Jay Britton, The Tudor Songbook

  • Banquet in the Great Hall of Hever Castle

  • Exclusive Access to Harvington Hall while it is closed to the public

  • Exclusive Access to Lord Leycester Hospital while it is closed to the public

  • Private use of the Astor Wing of Hever Castle during our stay.

  • Expert Guided Tours

  • An Audience with Elizabeth I

  • An Audience with Mary, Queen of Scots at her one-time prison, Tutbury Castle

Kenilworth Castle ©P Brewell

Historians on this Tour

Gareth Russell

Gareth Russell

Gareth Russell is the author of eight books, including the best-selling Young and Damned and Fair, a biography of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard. He studied History at Oxford and Queen’s University, Belfast, where his postgraduate dissertation was on the queen’s household in the 1540s. His book, The Ship of Dreams, was named a Book of the Year by The Times and a Best History Read of 2019 by the Daily Telegraph. He is a regular contributor on TV shows and documentaries and also hosts his own podcast “Single Malt History”. His latest book Do Let’s Have Another Drink, a biography of The Queen Mother through 101 anecdotes, is top of the charts! He is currently working on a history of Hampton Court Palace and the people who lived there which will be published in 2023. **EXCLUSIVE** Gareth will be sharing extracts from his upcoming book, on this tour!
Dr Estelle Paranque

Dr Estelle Paranque

Dr Estelle Paranque is an associate professor and lecturer in Early Modern History at New College.Her work focuses on Anglo-French relations during Elizabeth I's reign and monarchical representations during the early modern period. Her PhD, which she published as a monograph in 2018 was titled “Elizabeth I of England Through Valois Eyes: Power, Representation, and Diplomacy in the Reign of the Queen, 1558-1588.” Estelle's most recent book, 'Blood, Fire and Gold', is a dual biography of Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Catherine de Medici, the Queen Mother of France. Mary, Queen of Scots is a figure who inevitably features often in this realtionship and so Estelle is the perfect person to come and speak to us for our final talk.
Lesley Smith

Lesley Smith

Experience Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots as if meeting them in real life, with the incredible Lesley Smith. Lesley Smith has been the Curator of Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire since 2000. She is a medical historian holding an M.Phil in Tudor medicine, is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and is also a Member of the Society of Medical Writers. In addition to these qualifications, Lesley was awarded an Honorary Masters Degree in 2010 by the University of Derby for “Services to History in the Community”, and has 38 academic publications. She is also published in the wider community and had her own page in the local county magazine “Staffordshire Life” for eight years. Lesley has also appeared in over 120 television programmes some of which have been broadcast to 38 countries. Lesley is also well known for her highly entertaining and informative costumed portrayals of a variety of historical characters, which she gives both at the Castle and across the UK (and beyond).
The Tudor Songbook - Jay Britton

The Tudor Songbook - Jay Britton

Jay Britton has taken the Tudor world by storm with her beautiful performances of pieces from the Tudor court. Jay, who is a classically trained soprano, is becoming well known as The Tudor Songbook and she performs on a regular basis at historic houses across the country. Last year Jay captivated our tour groups as she sang songs from Anne Boleyn's own repertoire! You will be transported back to Tudor times as Jay, dressed in authentic Tudor dress and accompanied by period instruments, sings for us exclusively, at Hever Castle.
William Mitchell

William Mitchell

William is a London Blue Badge guide and historical interpreter at locations such as The Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, where he brings to life the stories of some of England’s most notable figures! William’s impressive knowledge, and clear and upbeat delivery mean he is our go-to guide for London. On this tour William will be taking us into Westminster Abbey and giving us a walking tour of the “Lost Palaces of Westminster and Whitehall!”
Phil Downing

Phil Downing

Phil Downing is the House Manager at Harvington Hall, a moated Elizabethan Manor House with a lot of Tudor history to tell! Phil's enthusiasm for the history of the Hall is infectious and entralling. Phil, and assistant house manager James, bring the history of this incredible Elizabethan Manor House alive, in a private guided tour for our group.

The Itinerary

  • Day 1 - 10th September

    From our convenient London pick up point we will board our private coach and head to our luxury hotel in Stratford Upon Avon. The Arden Hotel is within walking distance of the town and river. On arrival you will be shown to your beautiful room where you can settle in ahead of welcome drinks, a talk from Gareth Russell and a 3-course dinner.

  • Day 2 - 11th September

    Kenilworth Castle, Lord Leycester Hospital, Harvington Hall.

    After a beautiful breakfast we head to Kenilworth Castle where Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester put on elaborate entertainments for Elizabeth I in 1575, in an attempt to winher hand in marriage.

    **NEW TO THE ITINERARY** We have been granted a private tour by the Master of the Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick! What makes this even more exciting is that we have it all to ourselves as it is not open to the public on this day and we have been given special access.

    Mid afternoon we arrive at Harvington Hall, a moated Tudor Manor House of a recusant family during the reign of Elizabeth I. The House is closed to the public and we enjoy exclusive access and a tour of the house with the House Manager, Phil Downing, before an 'Audience with Elizabeth I', the incredible Lesley Smith.

    Our evening meal is taken in the Great Hall of Harvingon Hall!

  • Day 3 - 12th September

    Tutbury Castle

    Our second full day is spent at Tutbury Castle learning about Mary, Queen of Scots' time as a prisoner here. You will also take lunch here and have time to explore the site before returning to The Arden Hotel.

    We enjoy a 3-course evening meal and a relaxed night before travelling to Hever Castle the following day.

  • Day 4 - 13th September

    Peterborough Cathedral, Hever Castle

    After breakfast we check out of The Arden Hotel and make our way to Hever Castle via the magnificent Peterborough Cathedral. It is here that Mary, Queen of Scots was buried following her execution at Fotheringay Castle. She was later exumed on the orders of her son, James I of England so that she could be reinterred at Westminster Abbey.

    After checking into your room at Hever Castle and taking time to enjoy your surroundings, we meet for our private, out-of-hours 'Hidden Hever' tour. Our evening is topped off with a banquet in the Great Hall of the castle whilst enjoying a private concert from Jay Britton, The Tudor Songbook!

  • Day 5 - 14th September

    Westminster Abbey, Hever Castle

    Fill up on a Hever breakfast before we board our luxury coach and head to London where we will be joined by our expert guide for the day, William.

    William will guide us around Westminster Abbey to visit the final resting places of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. The women never met in life and yet rest in peace only a few meters away from each other.

    We return to Hever Castle for a talk from Dr Estelle Paranque about the relationship between the Queens, before a relaxed BBQ on our private lawn next to the moat looking at the Castle!

  • Day 6 - 15th September

    Wake up for one final time in the magical Hever Castle.

    After a leisurely breakfast we board our private coach which will take us back to London where we say our final farewells.

What's Included

Lesley Smith as Elizabeth I
  • 5 Nights Luxury Accommodation

  • Breakfast each morning and 3-course Evening Meal with a drink allowance

  • Resident historian for the tour - Gareth Russell

  • Luxury Coach Travel from pick up to drop off

  • Expert History Talks from Eminent Historians

  • Private Guided Tours

  • Exclusive Access to Harvington Hall

  • Access to Spa Facilites at our hotel (pre booking required)

  • Private use of the Astor Wing of Hever Castle including our own Private Lawn next to the moat

  • All Admissions as stated in the Itinerary

  • Dedicated Tour Manager Throughout

Watch Tour Manager, Philippa and Tour Historian, Gareth in conversation about this tour

Upgrade to a Superior Room

Limited Availability

Please Request on your Booking form (rooms are assigned on a first-come first-served basis).

Room Upgrades cost £450 for the duration of the tour.

  • Acanthus Bedroom

    Acanthus - upgraded room at Hever Castle

  • Clover Room

    Clover Room - upgraded room at Hever Castle

  • Primrose Room

    Primrose - upgraded room at Hever Castle

  • Tiger Lily

    Tiger Lily - upgraded room at Hever Castle

  • Tulip Room

    Tulip Room - upgraded room at Hever Castle

Optional Extras Optional Extras

Optional Extras

Room Upgrades £450

Tudor Dress Hire £180

There is space on the booking for to indicate your preferences


The Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots Tour

Bookings for this tour are now closed. We apologise for any disappointment. Sign up to make sure you don't miss out on news about future tours, it's free. Click Here

Photo Gallery

Hever Castle

Gareth Russell at Tower Hill

Gareth Russell - Resident Historian providing talks throughout the tour

Dress as Tudor Royalty

Hidden Hever After Hours Castle Tour

BBQ on private lawn at Hever Castle

Private BBQ at Hever Castle

Luxury Coach outside Hever Castle

Luxury Coach

Dinner in the Astor Wing

Breakfast Table at Hever Castle

Breakfast Table at Hever Castle

Harvington Hall

Harvington Hall

Tutbury Castle

Tutbury Castle

Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Not for you this time?

Our groups are kept to a limited number to enable us to offer unbeatable service so tours often sell out quickly. 

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Financial protection for your peace of mind

In accordance with the UK Package Travel & Linked Travel Regulations 2018, Directive (EU) 2015/2302 or the local applicable law in the country of residence of the passenger(s) booking with History Holidays Ltd t/a British History Tours are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all monies received by us, including repatriation costs and arrangements, arising from cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of History Holidays Ltd t/a British History Tours.

The respective laws accordingly to the country of residence of the passenger(s) usually only requires us to provide cover for Package & Linked Travel Arrangements, there is no requirement for Financial Protection of day trips or single elements, and none is provided unless the local law requires such. If you are resident outside the UK & EU we have extended cover under this policy to cover your package holiday or Linked Travel Arrangements. If you have questions on this, then please contact History Holidays Ltd t/a British History Tours.

History Holidays Ltd t/a British History Tours has taken out an insurance provided by International Passenger Protection Ltd (IPP) with Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe SE. This insurance is only valid for passengers who book and pay directly with/to History Holidays Ltd t/a British History Tours.  

In the event of our insolvency please make contact as soon as practically possible giving full details of what has happened quoting the name of your Travel Operator: 

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