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This is the first of two Wars of the Roses tours; which will allow you the opportunity to explore the period in great detail, visiting all the major battlefields, historic buildings from the time and hear the stories of the numerous characters who played their part. Together, these two tours will provide the ‘Ultimate Wars of the Roses Experience’ shedding light on this fascinating period and dispelling some of the myths cast by popular literature.
This southern part of the tour takes in some of the most important battlefields of the Wars as well as some castles which either hosted battles or personalities of the time. Staying in some historic towns and hotels and journeying through the English countryside at the height of summer will make for an all-round pleasant trip. We will also see the final resting place of Richard III, whose body was miraculously found in a Leicester car park in 2012 to much public attention.
The Wars of the Roses became one of the most defining periods in English history. Lasting for 30 years (1455 – 1485), it split the country in two and produced five different monarchs. The crown passed between the houses of York and Lancaster, with the Lancastrian’s eventually winning through and Henry Tudor establishing a new royal dynasty. The Wars have captured the imagination of the English for centuries, from Shakespeare’s historical plays such as Henry VI and Richard III, to the stark comparisons in George RR Martins fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, popularised by HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’.
Amongst the battlefields visited on this leg of the tour are St Albans, where two battles took place the first in 1455 which traditionally signals the start of the wars. At Tewkesbury (1471) which saw many leading Lancastrians killed or imprisoned and finally at Bosworth we will explore the decisive battle of the Wars where Henry Tudor defeated Richard III bringing Yorkist rule and the Wars of the Roses to an end.
- Guided by Dr John Sadler
- The southern battles in British summertime
- London, Warwick & Bosworth
"I was looking forward to my tour, but it exceeded all expectations. John Sadler and the tour manager were both superb."
Day 1 – London
Meet at our London hotel and head to the Tower of London where Henry VI was held prisoner before his death shortly after the battle of Tewkesbury. It is also where the sons of Edward IV, known infamously as ‘The Princes in the Tower’ were held before their mysterious disappearance. We visit Westminster Abbey, the site of coronation for all English monarchs since 1066, and the burial site of many including Henry VII. Overnight in London.
Day 2 – Barnet and St Albans
Today we explore four battles in one day. We start at the battle of Barnet in 1471. A decisive Yorkist victory that went a long way to securing the throne for Edward IV. It also saw the death of one of the Wars most influential characters, the Earl of Warwick, also known as the Kingmaker. At St Albans we’ll explore two battles that took place in the town itself, both decisive. And finally at Northampton (1460), we’ll hear of a brief but important battle that saw the first use of artillery in England. Check-in to our hotel near Northampton.
Day 3 – Tewkesbury
We move westward and explore the battlefields of Edgecote Moor and Tewkesbury. Edgecote saw Warwick’s change of allegiance from Edward IV and his rebel force defeating a Yorkist army. The decisive Yorkist victory at Tewkesbury was one of the most crucial of the Wars of the Roses and signalled the end of Henry VI reign with many leading Lancastrian’s including the Prince of Wales, and Henry’s wife Margaret of Anjou killed or imprisoned. We also visit the abbey where many of the dead from the battle are buried. Check into our Gloucester hotel for two nights.
Day 4 – Mortimer’s Cross, Ludlow and Blore Heath
The battle of Mortimer’s Cross (1461), gives us our first sight of that famous name ‘Tudor’. A Lancastrian force led by Owen Tudor (Henry VII’s grandfather) came up against a much stronger Yorkist army and were routed. We move onto Ludlow Castle which Richard, the Duke of York, inherited in 1425, and it became an important symbol of Yorkist authority during the Wars of the Roses. Finally at Blore Heath (1459), we hear how the Yorkist’s managed to defeat a far greater Lancastrian force in one of the first major battles of the wars.
Day 5 – Warwick and Kenilworth Castle
A break from battlefields today sees us visit two of the country’s grandest and historically most important castles. Firstly at Warwick Castle we see where the Kingmaker imprisoned Edward IV before his death at Barnet. Then Kenilworth Castle, which became a Lancastrian base of operations throughout the conflict, but has played an important role throughout English history. We move onto Leicester where check-in to our hotel.
Day 6 – Bosworth
After a morning visit to Leicester Cathedral where we will see the new resting place of Richard, we move onto the final and decisive battle of the war, Bosworth. It was at Bosworth Field in 1485, that the Lancastrian, Henry Tudor and his army brought an end to the Yorkist’s rule by slaying Richard III. His marriage to Elizabeth of York (the daughter of Edward IV) in 1486, united the two houses and the Wars of the Roses came to a timely end. Return to London and disperse.
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