The History of the Grand Tour in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire

Welbeck Estate

William Cavendish, who owned Welbeck and was pivotal in the development of dressage, went on a grand tour. He spent a lot of time in Italy studying classical architecture, particularly in Turin and Milan (from which he brought back a saddle and a horse). He took his Grand Tour with Sir Henry Wotton, who wrote a book titled “Elements of Architecture” in 1625 – the title of Rem Koolhaas’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

3rd Duke of Portland’s Grand Tour

He went on his grand tour after obtaining his MA from Oxford University, and his travels included Germany, Prussia (where he saw Frederick the Great) and Italy. It seems he was rather keen on Italy; spending 3 years in total on his grand tour, and much of that time was spent in Italy. Turberville’s ‘Welbeck Abbey and it’s Owners’ describes this; ‘Titchfield seems to be rooted in Turin’ (the 3rd Duke was Lord Titchfield before he inherited the title).

The 3rd Duke seems to have had a good time on his Grand Tour, letters refer to the beauty of the women in Turin and his friends seem to have been raucous (Turberville comments that his sister was not ‘charmed’ by the Duke’s accounts of his friends, but that that might make them very good companions!!), but eventually he had to return home and embark on a career – at which point, he entered politics.

His letters are with the Nottingham Archives, there’s this snippet on their website…

“William’s education followed the emerging family tradition of attendance at Westminster School and then Oxford University. On leaving university he embarked on the ‘Grand Tour’, taking in countries including Poland, Germany and Italy. He was soon to enter the political fray, however, being elected as M.P. for Weobly in 1761. In spite of his later political achievements, he apparently made very little impact during his time in the House of Commons.”,3rddukeofportland(1738-1809).aspx

Lord Byron’s Grand Tour

On 2 July 1809, when he was twenty-one, Byron sailed from Falmouth bound for the Near East. He and his travelling companion John Cam Hobhouse made their way via Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar and Malta to the Greek harbour of Patras, where they arrived on 26 September.  In the months that followed they travelled in Albania, Greece and Turkey. They stayed as honoured guests in the remote palace of the notorious despot Ali Pasha and visited the splendid court of Sultan Mahmud II in Constantinople. They survived violent storms and close encounters with murderous robbers. They met Greek patriots and Byron sympathised with their struggle to free their country from Turkish rule.

These and other adventures had a profound effect upon Byron and inspired the poetry that was to make him famous. The first of these, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, describes his journey and was written by him during the tour. It created a sensation when published in 1812 and its success soon made Byron a celebrity throughout Europe.

John Cam Hobhouse also wrote an account of their experiences in the Near East. It was published in 1813 as A Journey Through Albania and Other Provinces of Turkey. The walls of this gallery are hung with illustrations reproduced from this book.

With these are views of Constantinople and its people, taken from original watercolours made by an anonymous Greek artist in about 1809. Commissioned by Stratford Canning, who was first secretary at the British Embassy in Constantinople at that time, they show the city as it was when Byron was a tourist there. Now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, they are reproduced here by courtesy of the V&A Picture Library.