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Tour Director
Practical Information

  • From a base in Bath, explore the art treasures of this fine Georgian city, as well as historical houses in the surrounding countryside

  • Enjoy special access to private homes including Longford Castle, a magnificent country house dating back to the Elizabethan era and home to a world-class collection of art

  • Learn about the lives of individual collectors, such as the remarkable William Blathwayt of Dyrham Park

“A wonderful experience and masterly managed for a relaxing post-lockdown tour”

“It was an excellent tour, enjoyable, interesting and well run”

- ACE customers on the 2021 Art Collections & Stately Homes of the West Country tour with Rupert Dickens

The area of the West Country surrounding Bath and Salisbury features several of Britain’s most splendid stately homes, alongside some surprising art collections. This tour will offer an opportunity to explore the careers of individual collectors, and compare the ways they went about compiling their art treasures.


Longford Castle is a remarkable Elizabethan country house, originally built to a triangular ground plan to represent the Holy Trinity. Purchased in 1717 by Sir Edward des Bouverie, whose family were of Huguenot descent, the 18th and 19th centuries saw the castle transformed into a veritable treasure house, as its owners bought works of art by masters such as Claude Lorraine, Sir Anthony van Dyck and Thomas Gainsborough, to name but a few. The castle and collection have stayed in the family for over 300 years, and we will enjoy an exclusive guided tour of the unique interiors, beautiful furnishings, internationally significant collection of art and recently restored gardens.


We also hope to pay a visit to nearby Wilton House, the magnificent seat of the Earls of Pembroke, which was rebuilt in the Palladian style by Inigo Jones. The 17th century interior displays important works by Rembrandt, van Dyck and Bruegel.


Corsham Court is an Elizabethan house transformed in the 18th century by the Methuen family to provide a setting for their extraordinary collection of Old Master paintings. The Picture Gallery, built by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and furnished by Robert Adam, is little changed since the 18th century, and displays works by van Dyck, Murillo and Filippo Lippi.


Nearby is Dyrham Park, a Baroque country house nestling in the valley at the centre of a deer park. We will hear about the remarkable career of its founder, William Blathwayt, who served as right-hand man to William III after the Glorious Revolution, and who built a unique collection of Dutch pictures, china and furniture which still adorns the house.


We will also visit Stourhead, to savour the splendour of its world-famous landscape gardens and tour the Palladian villa designed by Colen Campbell for the Hoare family. While here, we will examine the art collection assembled by several generations of the family on the proceeds of their banking business.


Meanwhile, Lacock Abbey is a country house with monastic roots, known as the birthplace of British photography. We will have time to explore the grounds and perfectly preserved adjoining 19th century village of Lacock, setting for numerous film and television productions, from Pride & Prejudice to Wolf Hall.


Our base for the tour will be the beautiful city of Bath. The Holburne Museum is home to works of art by one of the city’s most famous residents, Thomas Gainsborough, who found fame here with his portraits of prominent Georgian citizens. We will also enjoy a visit to the Victoria Art Gallery, which houses a municipal collection built largely on bequests of works with a local connection.


We will stay throughout at The Bird, a delightful four-star boutique hotel located close to the Holburne Museum in Bath. Rooms are individually furnished and of differing sizes.


This tour will be led by Rupert Dickens, BA, MA, an art historian, accredited Arts Society lecturer and guide lecturer at the Wallace Collection. Previously a BBC television and radio journalist for over 20 years, Rupert studied art history at Birkbeck, University of London, before gaining a Masters degree in Dutch Golden Age Studies at University College London. Following his interest in the history of collections, Rupert developed this tour for ACE and looks forward to comparing and contrasting the motivations, methods and tastes of different collectors.

Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a deluxe twin or double bedded room, breakfast, dinner with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities.

Not Included: travel insurance, standard double room for single use supplement £290.

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