Groups are being offered a taste of ‘Hidden England’ with the launch of the first in a new series of packaged itineraries spanning 1,000 years of living history. Set in England’s historic heart, ‘Hidden England’ is a consortium of heritage sites all within an hour’s drive of one another with picturesque towns, villages and rolling countryside in between. Stretching across Rutland, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Cambridgeshire, ‘Hidden England’ brings together centuries-old heritage sites from historic homes to gorgeous gardens and spectacular architecture.

And for 2017, new group itineraries will offer tailor-made visits, including a four-night package with accommodation and tours of selected attractions from just £250 per person.Close to the A1, and within easy reach of London, the north as well as the east and West Midlands, at the heart of ‘Hidden England’ are five historic houses (Belvoir Castle, Burghley House, Doddington Hall, Grimsthorpe Castle and Rockingham Castle) along with two of the country’s finest cathedrals, Lincoln and Peterborough, plus a fascinating garden with its own hidden history, Easton Walled Gardens.Launching the new 2017 itineraries is a Tudor Trail, offering groups the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of Elizabethan England’s most famous faces.Highlights include the burial place of Henry VIII’s first wife Katharine of Aragon at Peterborough Cathedral to England’s greatest Elizabethan house, Burghley, built by the Queen’s most trusted adviser, and Grimsthorpe, a castle built to host a visit by Henry VIII.The itinerary also highlights one of the other unusual aspects of ‘Hidden England’ historic homes – all are still in the hands of, or lived in by, direct descendants of the families who either built or inherited them over the centuries.

At Rockingham, Henry VIII granted the Castle to Edward Watson, ancestor of the present owner James Saunders Watson, who converted the medieval fortress into a comfortable Tudor house, and Grimsthorpe has been the home of the de Eresby family since 1516, while Doddington Hall, a magnificent Elizabethan mansion built between 1593 and 1600, has never been sold or cleared out and is still a much loved family home. Belvoir Castle has been the home of the Manners family - the Earls, and later, Dukes, of Rutland - since the Tudor era, while Burghley, built by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, has been the Cecil family’s home for over 16 generations. It is now cared for by the Burghley House Preservation Trust, but is still lived in by a direct descendant of William Cecil.Partner hotels range from one of Britain’s best country house hotels, Hambleton Hall, and Rutland’s finest farmhouse hotel, Barnsdale Lodge, and the Grantham Ramada.

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