Tour Guides South East England

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Bespoke tours

A bespoke tour means that you can go whenever and wherever you want, subject to opening times etc.  Have a look at some of the our tour suggestions for inspiration and as a starting point. Many venues are able to offer ‘behind the scenes’ visits and offer the services of their own curator or specialist.  We will be pleased to advise what can be achieved at each venue to give you the best possible visitor experience.

If you would like us to formulate a tour for you based upon your available dates and areas of interest, just fill-in the enquiry form here (with absolutely no obligation) and we’ll prepare a customized itinerary for you and work with you to fine tune it to your exact requirements.

Please fill-in the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible, usually within 48 hours with bespoke tour suggestions and itinerary. Thank you for your interest.

New for 2020

Private Gardens Tour

Some of the most famous and beautiful gardens can be found in Kent and the South East of England . Some are very well known but there are also many hidden gems which I can show you. Many come with a castle or stately home to see as well e.g. Sissinghurst Castle and gardens and Leeds Castle but you could also include a tour to a less well known garden e.g. Chilham Castle just outside Canterbury.

I can prepare an itinerary for you which will be entirely to your individual preferences.

Gourmet Tour

Kent is a wonderful gourmet destination and experience. Kent is renowned for Whitstable oysters, Romney Marsh Lamb, strawberries and much more. It is no surprise that Kent is home to Michelin starred restaurants and award-winning Gastro-pubs.
There are local breweries, including the oldest brewery in the country, Shepherd Neame, in Faversham, just outside Canterbury. Kent is also home to some of the best English vineyards with exceptional award-winning wines.

City of Canterbury Walking Tour

(with guided tour of the Cathedral)

Bespoke Tours - Canterbury

Canterbury combines history, historic buildings, excellent shopping and the oldest cathedral in the country, part of a UNESCO world heritage site and the mother church of the Anglican community. Much of medieval Canterbury can now be visited on foot – it is a traffic-free zone – and is a comfortable stroll.

Learn about Elizabeth 1st’s visit and see the building she stayed in. Walk in the footsteps of the barefoot King Henry II on his way to the Cathedral where he paid penance and was whipped by the monks for the murder of his archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket and enjoy your personally guided tour of the Cathedral and see the exact spot of Becket’s Martyrdom. We can help you discover the Miracle Windows – the world famous stained glass which is some of the earliest stained glass in the country and details the miracles that are said to have occurred after the murder of Thomas or look for the Pelicans in Piety or the Bee Holes or the Mermaid with the sparkly naked breasts in the cloisters (a beautifully carved 14th century ceiling boss).

For our American guests we can give a tour of the Cathedral which refers specifically to items and events that have American links. You could also include a visit to the Canterbury Tales attraction and follow Geoffery Chaucer’s pilgrims on their way to Canterbury in the 14th century or maybe a leisurely Canterbury River Tour.

Literary Kent & Canterbury

Guided tours - Charles DickensEnjoy a walking tour of the city and visit to the cathedral. Hear about T.S. Eliot’s drama, Murder in the Cathedral, learn about Rupert Bear author, Mary Tourtel and Christopher Marlowe both Canterbury born. Then after lunch a scenic drive through East Kent to see and hear about Ian Fleming, Jane Austen and their links with Kent and on to Broadstairs and the Dickens Museum enjoy the town that Dickens loved so much!

On the Tudor Trail

Kent has many connections with the Tudors, especially Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Some suggestions for places to visit could include Ightham Mote, near Sevenoaks, rebuilt by Sir Richard Clement one of Henry’s favourite servants, but who would have wanted one of his jobs –he had the dubious honour of taking care of the King’s personal hygiene!

A beautiful manor house with magnificent gardens that is open all year. You could then go on to Penshurst Place, where Tudor toursHenry lived while he secretly courted Anne when she was living at Hever Castle. Penshurst, the home of the Sidney family since 1552. This is the family who helped draft the Constitution for Pennsylvania – later the basis of the US Constitution – see the Great Hall where nothing has changed since Henry’s time. Are you a fan of Wolf Hall, the hugely popular book by Hilary Mantel and now a lavish TV drama? Many scenes were filmed here, as were numerous other TV and film productions including the The Other Boleyn Girl. An easy journey can take you to Hever Castle, the childhood home of the Boleyn girls, Anne and Mary, and perhaps the most romantic reason for Henry’s frequent visits to Kent.

The castle dates back to the 13th century and according to the eminent Tudor historian, Dr. David Starkey, contains ‘one of the best collections of Tudor portraits after the National Portrait Gallery’. Hever was greatly restored by the American, William Waldorf Astor and contains fascinating memorabilia relating to the Astor family. These wonderful sites are all located in a small geographical area of Kent and at least two can be visited comfortably in a day.

World War 2 "Hellfire Corner"

Kent has many links to World War II and features many historic memorials. Much of the Battle of Britain was fought in the skies above World War 2 Tours of KentKent in 1940 and the National Battle of Britain Memorial and Wall of Remembrance is located on the cliffs a short distance from Dover.

Very close by is the Kent Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge where the exhibits are housed in original 1940’s building plus at Dover Castle you can explore the darkly atmospheric Secret Wartime Tunnels including a re-creation of the Dunkirk evacuation in ‘Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk’ complete with dramatic projections of swooping Spitfires and real film footage. You might know about Ian Fleming and his association with Kent, but do you know what his brother Peter’s role was in Kent during the War?

Winston Churchill Tours

On our tours to Chartwell, enjoy the company of professional actor, Oliver Ford, who will entertain and inform you with his interactive ‘Churchill’ commentary. Oliver uses different media and gets into character to give us a unique tour experience. He has worked with many companies who have wanted to add a fun and an enjoyable element to their guided tour. Contact me to discuss how this experience can be included in your tour.

Shore Excursions from Dover Port

There are so many places to visit when you arrive at the Port of Dover.  There is much that can be included in a full or half-day tour.  From Dover you are a short drive away from some of the most iconic buildings and sites in Britain.
We can arrange for you to be collected from the cruise terminal in your own personal vehicle. Here are a few suggestions for some tours, but we can also put together other tours to suit your personal requirements – see our bespoke tour enquiry form. We know that time in-port is precious and we are specialists in making the most of short shore excursions so don’t waste a moment of your precious time when you dock at Dover and take a look at how we can help.

Chartwell - Home of Winston Churchill

Drive through the wonderful Kent countryside with a guided commentary on the places we pass and then on to the home of Britain’s great wartime leader, Winston Churchill. The house, the personal mementoes and pictures are as they were during his lifetime. 2015 is the 50th anniversary of his death and this year there is a unique exhibition ’Death of a Hero’. It is a unique display of many items associated with the great man and his life. We can combine this trip with Dover and a visit to the Operation Dynamo exhibition in Dover Castle or visit Walmer Castle where Churchill stayed when he was Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Rye & Romney Marsh

Smuggling, wonderful English villages, mysterious Romney Marsh and the medieval town of Rye. Drive along the coast from Dover, passing Folkestone and Hythe and then across Romney Marsh, the haunts of notorious Guided tours of Rye and the Cinque Portssmuggling gangs associated with Kent and Sussex and ‘Dr Syn’ in Dymchurch. Learn about the Cinque Ports, look out for the medieval churches that this part of England is so famous for and on to Rye. Enjoy a walking tour of this fascinating town – once a thriving royal port now a wonderful example of a medieval town. Rye has many literary associations – see Lamb House the home of Henry James and spot the locations for the recent TV production of ‘Mapp and Lucia’ based on the novels of E. F. Benson. We could also drive the short distance to Winchelsea and visit Spike Milligan’s grave – his headstone says “I told you I was ill” and had to be written in Gaelic to get the permission of the Chichester Diocese!

Sissinghurst Castle & Gardens

The world renowned garden of Vita Sackville-West can easily be reached from Dover. The beauty of the garden is well known and the story of Vita is just as fascinating. Enjoy a tour of the garden and a visit to the nearby town of Cranbrook Sissinghurst tours.  Vita Sackville Westto see the ‘Cathedral of the Weald’ St. Dunstans, the magnificent church. Cranbrook is home to the Union Mill, the tallest and finest working smock mill in England. The countryside we pass is a joy and quintessentially Kentish – orchards, oast-houses, Kentish tiled houses, medieval churches, windmills and the darker side of the weald; the vicious smuggling gangs who terrorised the area.Sissinghurst Gardens Tour from Dover

How about a visit to a vineyard? Biddenden and Tenterden vineyards are nearby. Why do so many of the names end in ‘den’? Before the forest or ‘Weald’ was cleared, there were small clearings or ‘dens’ where pigs were pastured. This is a wonderful tour to take if you want to admire the magnificent scenery of the Kentish Weald as well as seeing some of the most beautiful villages in Kent.

Canterbury with Leeds Castle

The historic city of Canterbury boasts a great deal to keep the visitor interested and entertained but how about combining a visit to Canterbury with a visit to Leeds Castle? Often called the ‘Loveliest Castle’ Leeds Castle Tourin the world. It has a fascinating history including being transformed from a fortified stronghold to a magnificent royal palace for the use of King Henry 8th and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. One of their visits was on the way to meet Francois 1st of France at the magnificent ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’ in France. Learn about Mrs Wilson-Filmer, Lady Baillie as she was to become. This Anglo-American heiress wanted a Kentish retreat and had the necessary style and funds to carry out extensive renovations. During the 1930s Leeds Castle was to become one of the greatest country houses of England and a centre of lavish parties for leading statesmen, royalty and film stars. In 1974 Leeds Castle was passed in perpetuity to the Leeds Castle Foundation which was set up by Lady Baillie. You can enjoy a 1,000 years of history in an afternoon!

Deal, Walmer, Sandwich & Dover

This is a perfect circular route from the cruise terminal. All the towns are within a 20 minute drive of Dover. In your own personal vehicle we can stop at these wonderful places and enjoy the lovely Kent countryside and also some gorgeous sea views. Both Deal and Walmer have ‘Tudor Rose’ castles built by King Henry VIII as part of a chain of coastal artillery defences in the 16th century. Walmer is also home to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Duke of Wellington held the post for 23 years and died here. This year there will be displays marking the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.Deal, Sandwich & Dover Guided Tours

Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother were also past wardens. Sandwich ‘the most preserved medieval town in England’ is a very old with the earliest mention of it’s name in 664 AD but it probably is even older, as it is very close the Roman Fort at Richborough. Ghost stories and mysteries abound, and the street names can be curious – they’ve even got one called No-name Street! Famous former inhabitants include Thomas Paine who lived in Sandwich in 1759 and his home is marked with one of the famous ‘Blue Plaques’. Many of his ideas were incorporated in the American ‘Declaration of Independence’. You can admire the enormous range of architecture which is contained in this small town. Needless to say there is a huge choice of places to enjoy something to eat and drink. Maybe a sandwich? Or how about a cream tea in The Salutation garden – Lutyens designed with the help of his friend Gertrude Jekyll. You can start or end your tour with a visit to Dover Castle or just enjoy Deal, Walmer, and Sandwich on their own. As ever, the choice is yours.

Corporate Tours

Many organisation find the idea of a guided tour ideal for corporate purposes. The tours provide an interesting source of entertainment for employees and clients.

A tour can be tailored specifically to suit your purposes, available time and budgets and could be adapted to link in to your business theme. It can be a fantastic way to encourage the host and clients to intermingle in a less formal way and could involve a hosted reception and team-building challenges. Canterbury is an especially convenient destination, as it is easily accessible form London, the M25 and Dover and has a host of possibilities for different themed visits on arrival. The Cathedral Lodge Hotel is a very fine place to hold a reception and has a unique location within the Cathedral precincts.

Maxine Ford has worked extensively in sales and marketing and events planning (as well as being a delegate on numerous occasions), and has good understanding of corporate requirements.

Maxine Ford MITG

Telephone +44 (0)1227 749513

Mobile +44 (0)757 0042247

Email: canterburyguide@gmail.com

Quick contact form

Contact Maxine Ford

Maxine Ford MITG

+44 (0)1227 749513

canterburyguide@gmail.com