The Grand Tour: British Travellers in Europe, c. 1600-1900


The ‘Grand Tour’ evolved into a rite of passage and the culmination of an education. British and Irish gentlemen and ladies travelled across the continent to experience and study the landscape, literature and architecture of classical sites, with Italy as the ultimate destination. Their experiences, visiting classical sites and participating in the social scene, were relayed in letters, diaries and paintings and perpetuated a fascination with the classical past. Travel also provided the opportunity to acquire a personal collection of artefacts and objects of interest and artistic appeal, with an entire industry of guidebooks, agents, dealers and artists emerging to meet the demand. These collections came to shape British art and architecture to this day.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

What do we mean by ‘Grand Tour’? The start of Continental travel for self-improvement and self-fashioning in the early 17th Century, and the political and social changes which promoted it. Early aristocratic interest in Collecting, and influences from abroad. The European and Classical influences on British Art, Architecture and Thought. Who went on the ‘Grand Tour’? Was it a purely British activity?

Which Countries were visited and how did you decide the route? The development of the market in travel guides and maps and the expectations provided by these and existing images.  Development of a set itinerary in Italy - Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice. The professional tutor or ‘bear leader’ and the support networks. The journey and the hazards encountered. Letters home and published accounts.

The Depiction of the Grand Tour in Art; of Grand Tourists in portraits and sculpture, of what they saw and visited in landscape painting.  Influence of the antique – archaeological excavation and discovery of Greek and Roman sites. The development of the Art Market in ancient and modern Painting and Sculpture including new professional dealers, agents and antiquarians to supply the demands of collectors and tourists.

Field trip to Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire, once owned by the Isham family.  In the late 1670s Sir Thomas Isham left Oxford to travel Europe for 2 ½ years with his cousin & tutor Rev. Zacchaeus Isham. Their Tour resulted in the purchase of books, & furniture & the commissioning of paintings, which is well recorded in contemporary letters and account books and almost all of which are still in the house today.

The afterlife of the Grand Tour – Social Groups and Societies formed on the return home. Contemporary criticisms of the Grand Tour. The ‘Grand Tour’ in the 19th and 20th Century and modern tourism. The long-lasting influence on taste, architecture, collections in houses and museums, and the way we regard them today.

Field trip
Destination: Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire
Excursion rating: Moderate - up to two hours’ walk on even ground or up to an hour’s walk of uneven /unpaved surface and/or steep/hilly ground including lots of stairs and steps in houses and gardens.


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1735.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1540.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1637.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1637.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1540.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1220.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.


Mr Martin Stiles


Martin Stiles has spent his career working with and for historic properties and their families. Now based at The Wellington Collection, Apsley House, he is researching family portrait collections and their display and has taught summer school classes for Oxford for the last four years on topics connected to his work and research interests.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.