Discovering Charleston & Savannah

Planters & Pioneers

USA
Wednesday 28 September - Thursday 6 October 2022 (9 Days)

Price

£4,475
Places

Opportunity to enjoy both Charleston & Savannah in their late summer glory

Private houses & art gallery visits in both cities

Focus on Carolina & Georgia historic houses & former plantation estates  

Based in two historic, centrally located 4* hotels in both cities.

Excellent food & gently paced visits with time to explore independently

Tour Overview

The South Carolina Colony was founded in 1663, following on from the settlement of the northern Atlantic-facing colonies in the preceding decades by English settlers. Joined by migrants from the ‘English’ Caribbean’ they saw in this ‘Low Country’ an opportunity to replicate the West Indian plantation model. Colonists arrived at the mouth of the Ashley River and founded their ‘Charles Town’ in honour of Charles II. In the following century rich and powerful planters exploited enslaved Africans, producing rice, cotton and indigo – the plant which produced blue dye for the textile industry - for export. In the 1730s Carolina and Great Britain strengthened their grip by founding the last American colony, Georgia, named after George II, taking over land south and west of the Savannah River. Like Charleston, the Savannah settlement was close to the Atlantic coast, while both colonies acted as a strategic check on competing Spanish settlements to the south and threats from Native Americans.

Today, Charleston is quietly elegant, its town houses and mansions built in an array of Neo-classical and ‘Revivalist’ architectural styles, dating from the Colonial and pre and post-Civil War periods. We shall visit several private houses illustrating the historic wealth of the town’s elite society.

Our visit includes two of the city’s nearby plantations, above all the important Palladian-style Drayton Hall, a rare survivor of the destruction wrought by the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the latter of which began in Charleston Harbour.

Barrier islands line the rugged Atlantic coastline as we travel south to Savannah in nearby Georgia. Canopies of moss-draped oak trees are as much a feature of Savannah as the elegant squares that grace the grid-planned historic centre. Lovely historic town houses reflect the city’s wealth from its foundation in the early eighteenth century. In the warm early autumn tropical climate, our visit will be an opportunity to discover two of America’s most handsome smaller cities, veritable American ‘Southern Belles’, while their art collections and gardens will add visual splendour to a remarkable itinerary.

We stay in the historic centres of Charleston and Savannah. The historic 4* Hotel Francis Marion has a bar, restaurants and a spa located at the edge of South of Broad district. In Savannah we stay at the restored 4* Mansion on Forsyth, overlooking Forsyth Park, formerly a nineteenth century neo-Romanesque mansion. Joining James Hill will be Susan McLeod-Epstein who will lead our visit in Charleston. Susan works for The Preservation Society of Charleston and is an experienced guide. We shall also be guided by house guides and private house owners while James will act as tour manager.

Day by day

Day 1: Wednesday 28 September
We fly from London Heathrow on American Airlines to Charleston Airport via Philadelphia, arriving in the afternoon. We spend 4 nights at the 4* Hotel Francis Marion and there will be a light group dinner in our hotel. Wine (or altertnaive), water and tea/coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
Day 2: Thursday 29 September
We begin at The Charleston Museum offering an excellent display and overview of the town’s history. We continue to visit the Joseph Manigault House, a fine example of a pre-Civil War house. After an early lunch (not included) we visit the Special Collections of Addleston Library at The College of Charleston, the oldest metropolitan university in America. Rare manuscripts include a complete folio set of James Audobon’s Birds of America. We return to our hotel mid-afternoon and the evening will be free.
Day 3: Friday 30 September
We spend the day exploring the South of Broad and Battery districts of Charleston, broken by a picnic lunch, and our focus will be several private visits where we shall be received by the owners. We shall also visit Edmondston-Alston House, commanding superb views across the city’s harbour, and the Neo-classical Nathaniel Russell House. Following a fascinating day exploring the domestic architecture and interiors of some of Charleston finest houses, the remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free.
Day 4: Saturday 1 October
Today we visit two historic plantations located close to the Ashley River. Dating to 1738, Drayton Hall is the oldest Palladian-style house in America, inspired by the Villa Cornaro in the Italian Veneto. We continue the short distance to the Middleton House estate, where we pause for a group lunch. Though badly damaged during the Civil War, one of the restored estate houses echoes the Jacobean-style of architecture found both in Virginia and on Barbados. Inside, fine decorative arts and paintings highlight the social importance of the Middleton family. The Andrê Le Nôtre-inspired landscaped grounds are some of the finest in the south. Following our visit, we return to our hotel and the evening will be free.
Day 5: Sunday 2 October
Our final morning in Charleston will be free for private explorations. After lunch (not included), we visit the Gibbes Museum of Art where a small permanent collection displays art of the Carolinas from Colonial times to the present day. Following our visit, we leave Charleston and drive for approximately two hours south to Savannah for our three-night stay at the 4* Mansion on Forsyth and there will be a group dinner in our hotel.
Day 6: Monday 3 October
Georgia’s first city is graced with houses of charm, surrounded by tropical-like gardens, some of which we shall visit during our introductory walk around Savannah’s historic centre. Green Meldrim House is a fine neo-Gothic home, while Mercer Williams House is a highbred of revivalist styles with a collection of decorative arts and the Andrew Low House was the home of a notable cotton planter. After lunch (not included), we conclude with a private visit to the home of a locally-renowned antique print and map collector. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free.
Day 7: Tuesday 4 October
Our half-day of activities begins on the river front exploring the once-busy wharf. We shall also visit two nearby Neo-classical mansions, the Owen Thomas House and Harpers-Fowlkes House, the former retaining its domestic slave quarters. We end our morning at the Telfair Academy, Savannah’s principal art gallery which has a small permanent collection of nineteenth century American art, presented in an engaging ‘house style’. Lunch (not included) and the afternoon will be free to explore Savannah independently. Later in the evening our final group dinner will be in an excellent local restaurant.
Days 8 & 9: Wednesday 5 & Thursday 6 October
On our final morning, we drive northwards and return to Charleston via Port Royal Island for a visit and early group lunch at the picturesque colonial town of Beaufort. We continue to Charleston airport for our flight to Heathrow via Philadelphia, arriving in the morning on Thursday.  

Practicalities

  • Price: £4,475 per person
  • Price without flights: £3,695
  • Deposit: £795
  • Single Supplement: £595 ()

Hotel Details

4 nights with breakfast at the 4* Hotel Francis Marion, Charleston, South Carolina and 3 nights with breakfast at the 4* Mansion on Forsyth, Savannah, Georgia

Flights

American Airlines/British Airways Codeshare

Outward:         

AA729 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 3) 0915 Arrive Philadelphia 1201

AA326 Depart Philadelphia 1550 Arrive Charleston 1745

Return:

AA329 Depart Charleston 1812 Arrive Philadelphia 2001

AA728 Depart Philadelphia 2313 Arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 3) 1110  

Price includes

3 dinners & 3 lunches with water, wine & coffee, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities

Not included

Travel to/from Heathrow, 3 dinners & 4 lunches

Weather

Current Conditions

Weather Conditions for Charleston in early October are:
Average Temperature between: 9oC - 23oC / 48oF - 73oF
Rainfall: 15mm / 0.5 inches

Fitness levels

We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.

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