Anyone for tennis? New balls please! – NEW TOUR
Tennis tour Wimbledon: a new Greatdays tour – with a visit to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum & Hampton Court Palace
Some historians date tennis as far back as Egyptian times. They say the Arabic word for the palm of the hand, rahat, is the origin of the word racket. But the most common view is that it was a crude courtyard ball game invented by 11th or 12th century French monks. The name tennis is said to come from the French word ‘Tenez!’ (from the verb tenir meaning ‘to take’). It means ‘take this’, which the monks would yell as they served the ball with their hand.
The game became popular as rich aristocrats learned the game from the monks. The nobles modified their courtyards into indoor courts and developed gloves and then bats to hit the ball, which were made of cork wrapped in string or cloth and later, leather. Some accounts say that by the 13th century there were as many as 1,800 indoor courts.
Tennis became so popular that the Pope tried, but failed, to ban the game. But it had many noble fans, including Henry VII and VIII who built more courts (including one of the few surviving courts, built at Hampton Court Palace in 1625).
However the game of ‘court’ or ‘real’ tennis, is very different from the popular, global sport we know as tennis today. In ‘real tennis’ the ball is hit around a series of walls with rooved galleries. Players win points by hitting the ball into netted windows beneath the rooves. At Hampton Court, the most points are gained for hitting a wooden portrait of Henry VIII.
Our fascinating new tour will show you the evolution of tennis starting with tennis as it is today with a tour of surely the most famous tennis courts in the world at Wimbledon, then taking you back through time, where you can see the ‘real tennis’ courts at Hampton Court Palace. At both Wimbledon and Hampton Court, a guide will accompany you so that you make the most of your visit.
Please note that this tour is not available from mid-June (in the lead up to the Wimbledon Championship) and late July (after the tournament has finished).
Weekends April to October in 2018
Suggested itinerary by coach
Travel to London and arrive at your hotel
On route to the hotel why not stop at one of the many attractions in the area, such as The Musical Museum, the Water & Steam Museum or maybe Kew Gardens. We will be delighted to make the arrangements for you, or offer some alternative suggestions.
Continue to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and Hampton Court
Enjoy a traditional English breakfast; drive to Wimbledon where you will meet with your guide for a fascinating tour of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum which allows you to explore tennis’ evolution into a multimillion dollar professional sport played worldwide. The Museum showcases the artistry and athleticism that is modern tennis. Donated items from legendary players are on display in the Museum, as well as the glittering Championship trophies. A new Virtual Reality experience opened in June 2016 will give you a fascinating look at the story. Guided tours of the grounds, led by the masterfully informative Blue Badge Guides, give you an exclusive inside look at Wimbledon and the Championships. Highlights include the prestigious Centre Court, the Press Interview Room, and the Millennium Building.
Make your way to the onsite restaurant, where a light lunch will be served, followed by obligatory strawberries and cream when in season (outside British strawberry season, an alternative dessert will be served.)
Then it’s off to Hampton Court Palace (around 6 miles away; 20 minutes drive).
We have arranged for a guide to meet you on arrival at Hampton Court and accompany you during your visit.
The first tennis court at Hampton Court was built for Cardinal Wolsey between 1526 and 1529. As a young man, Henry VIII was a keen and talented tennis player who spent hours on court. His second wife Anne Boleyn was gambling on a game of tennis when she was arrested to be taken to the Tower of London. She even complained that she couldn’t collect her winnings! There has been a tennis court on this site since 1625 when this one was built for Charles I. Three of the walls are 17th century, the external wall to the right of the viewing gallery is Cardinal Wolsey’s original.
The tennis court has displays along the visitor route viewing gallery. These include interactive handmade balls, life size character illustrations and custom made racquets.
The tennis club at Hampton Court Palace is a private members’ club so non-members and visitors are only allowed into the viewing gallery to watch a game during the summer months (April to October). However, it is a very active club, with a lot of members, so your chances of seeing a game in play when the viewing gallery is open are very high.
You can of course spend time at Hampton Court visiting the other ‘must-sees’, including The Chapel Royal, The Great Hall, Henry VIII kitchen, William III’s apartments, and of course, the magnificent gardens including the Privy Garden and the Kitchen Garden, and of course the world famous maze.
Return to your hotel late afternoon.
Windsor or other area attractions and return home
Enjoy a traditional English breakfast; you then have some free time to explore. We have lots of suggestions in the area for you.
Take the short drive to Kew Gardens. The London Museum of Water & Steam where you will be amazed by the massive historic engines that pumped Thames water to London’s taps, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens to explore London’s exciting watery past or maybe the Musical Museum.
Leave London at your leisure to return home.
We offer a selection of 3 and 4-star hotels in the area, including the Holiday Inn Shepperton, Novotel Brentford, Hilton Cobham, Hilton Croydon, Jury’s Inn Croydon, Hallmark Croydon, Crowne Plaza Hotel Heathrow and Holiday Inn London M4 J4.
Short of time?
This tour can also be operated as 2 days and 1 night, by visiting one attraction on each day.
|1st April to 31st October 2018|
|2 days / 1 night||from £119.00 per person|
|3 days / 2 nights||from £175.00 per person|
A single room supplement applies.