The Grand Tour - Culture or Indulgence?

Course summary

The Grand Tour - Culture or Indulgence?


From the 16th to the 19th century it was fashionable for young aristocrats and artists to visit Paris, Venice, Florence and above all Rome, to finish their education. This tour helped foster neo-classical ideals and help to shape the creative and intellectual sensibilities of some of the greatest artists, musicians, writers and architects. The tour also had an impact on social, political, gastronomic and sartorial movements in Northern Europe and America. During this day school we will look at the places the ‘tourists’ visited, the buildings and art treasures they were expected to see, the inns at which they stayed, the food which they ate and the splendour and squalor they encountered. We will try to determine the true motives of the ‘tourists’, because for some, such as James Boswell, the tour provided a release from the moral constraints of home and allowed them to indulge freely in gambling, drink and sex. We will also look at the impact of the Napoleonic Wars and how tourists were obliged to go further afield to Greece and Turkey for their culture and pleasures. The end of the Grand Tour came in the middle of the 19th century, when the railway opened up the possibility of foreign travel to a far larger clientele.


Programme details


Being held at Newbury College, Monks Lane, Newbury

9.30am Registration

9.45am From Pilgrim to Tourist – The origins and early history of the Grand Tour
Who went on Tour and why?

10.45am Coffee/tea

11.10am Preparations, precautions and practicalities
Paris and the Alps

12.45pm Lunch

1.30pm Art, archaeology and neo-classicism
Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples

2.30pm Tea/coffee

2.45pm Wine, women and song!
Napoleon, railways and the end of the Grand Tour

3.45pm Course disperses

No lunch is provided, but there is a shop on site where you can buy food and refreshments or bring your own.
There is also a large car park on site where you may park all day for no charge.

Recommended reading

Black, J. The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century, The History Press, 2003
Dolan, B., Ladies of the Grand Tour, Flamingo 2010
Hibbert, C., The Grand Tour, Methuen 1987


Tuition only: £60.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Mr Trevor Rowley


MA, MLitt, FSA,  was formerly Deputy Director in the Department for Continuing Education and before that Director of Archaeology in the department. He is now an Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He has published many books on landscape history and the Normans, most recently a biography of William the Conqueror’s half-brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux and an examination of the landscape of the Bayeux Tapestry.    


Please enrol directly with Newbury College, Monks Lane, Newbury, Berks RG14 7TD; Tel: 01635 845555 / 01635 845000 for an application form or enrol online at using this course code: 97657 161701 - please type this code into the search our courses box or Email:

No lunch is provided, but there is a shop on site where you can buy food and refreshments or bring your own.

There is also a large car park on site where you may park all day for no charge.

We reserve the right to cancel courses with insufficient enrolments and the decision to do so is usually made 2 weeks before a course is scheduled to run. In such cases students are refunded in full. Neither Newbury College or OUDCE can be held responsible for travel booked in advance.