F.A.Q.s

Here are a selection of answers to questions you might have before you travel to Church House.

What’s included in the price.
The price is per person and includes accommodation and your personalised tours.  Accommodation is in our home Church House and we provide a full breakfast and three-course dinner. A light lunch or snack or tea is included on your arrival day dependent on your arrival time. Tours includes the use of one vehicle per group booked, the services of the driver/guide and all associated costs. A free National Trust Touring Pass is included.

What’s not included in the price.
Transfers to and from Church House, lunches and entrance fees to the attractions that you visit that are not National Trust.

What can I expect to pay for entrance fees.
Please visit the Prices page from more information about entrance costs.

Is my advance payment protected
We are compliant with the Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tours Regulations.  This means that your advance payments are held in a trust account and not available to Discover England Tours until your vacation with us is complete. Therefore if we (Discover  England Tours) were unable to fulfil our contract to provide your vacation, the funds would be available and would be returned to you by the third party trustee.

Do I need travel insurance
If some unforeseen circumstances mean that you should need to cancel your stay, you will incur a cancellation charge, depending on when you cancel. Please be sure to read our booking conditions and understand the cancellation charges. A suitable travel insurance policy should cover you for this loss, and for money paid out for other aspects of your trip and is a sensible precaution.

What about passports and visas
It is advisable to check the current regulations on Visas and Passports when you book your vacaion as recent changes may effect your travel plans. All visitors to the UK require a valid passport.  Visitors from USA, Canada and Australia do not require visas. Visitors from other countries are advised to check at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/

Which airport should I use to get to Church House
The main options are London Heathrow & London Gatwick.  Heathrow and Gatwick are served by the main airlines and you will have a choice of routes and airlines. We are nearer Heathrow than Gatwick so Gatwick transfers cost a bit more and take longer.

How do I arrange my transfers
We will help organise your transfers from and to London airports, hotels, cruise terminals and local railway stations. For these transfers we use a carefully selected local taxi company to pick you up and deliver you to the door at Church House. The cost of transfers is not included in the price of your holiday.  More information is given on the Transfers page. You can also use the train to reach us - our nearest station is Gillingham Dorset - see below.

Can I get to Church House by train
For train timetables and ticket prices visit www.thetrainline.com To reach Church House take a train to Gillingham Dorset - there is another town called Gillingham in Kent so be sure to get the right one! There are taxis at the station or we can arrange a taxi to meet you, so long as you let us have your train time in advance.  Fare around £25.

Can I combine a Church House visit with another visit or tour
Many of our visitors combine a stay at Church House with another tour or visit. London stays are very popular and pre- or post-cruise stays too.  We are well positioned for transfers to London by train or taxi. We also have access to regional airports at Southampton and Bristol for onward travel to other parts of the UK and Europe.

How do I arrange my tour itineraries
We have lots of suggestions for you on the website.  This is a good place to start. On your first day at Church House, we will sit down with you and find out what kind of things you want to see and start to map out how your days will work.  We tour seven days a week and there is rarely a problem working around opening days for the various attractions.  If there is somewhere that you must see then let us know as soon as you can. If you are organising a group of friends or family, we can take the ‘group leader’ role over for the duration of your stay and give you a break! If you would like your itinerary worked out before you arrive, then we are happy to do this too.

Will I meet other travellers during my stay at Church House
We have space for up to six guests at any one time and run a maximum of two vehicles.  So groups of six will have exclusive use of the house during their stay while smaller groups would normally expect others to be in the house at the same time. All guests dine at the same table in the dining room and there is a shared sitting room with books, periodicals and TV. The family do not generally dine with you as it does not work with our daughters evening schedule. And if we ate three course dinners every night for 6 months of the year our waistlines would expand too much!

What’s the weather like in England
Autumn (September - November)- In Autumn there can be very warm days, but equally there can be very cold ones too! Temperatures fluctuate around the 7 to 14 degrees Centigrade (45F to 60F) mark but are likely to be much warmer in September than November.Winter (December - early March) - Winter sees Britain's shortest and coldest days (about 7-8 hours of daylight) but these can be crisp and bright. Temperatures fluctuate from around 1 to 5 degrees Centigrade (33F to 40F).Spring (March - May) - In Spring, you might enjoy wonderful sunny weather but then, it might equally be cold and wet. Temperatures fluctuate from around 6 to 11 degrees Centigrade. (42F to 54F). May can have very warm days - up to about 18 degrees Centigrade.Summer (June - August) - Most days in summer are warm, but evenings can be cool. Temperatures average around 14 - 20 degrees Centigrade, (58F - 70F) although it can be up to around 28 degrees Centigrade ( 82F) on some days. Temperature higher than this are very unusual.There is quite a difference in temperature between Scotland and Southern England. Generally, the further north, the colder it is likely to be.

What’s the best time to come on a garden tour
The best times are end of May and into June for burgeoning herbaceous borders, early-mid June for English roses in bloom. Going into July is also a good time and then the first three weeks of September.
 
What clothing should I pack.
Check the weather notes above and remember that variability is the primary characteristic of British weather! Whatever the season, the British weather is liable to change from day to day, so if you're wondering what to pack, a good idea is to bring layers, a waterproof coat or jacket and an umbrella. We are not formal in the house so you do not need to dress for dinner - but you can if you wish!

What’s the best way to bring money with me
Bring some cash pounds sterling with you.  If you are using a taxi transfer that we have arranged the driver will ask you to pay the fare in £ cash.  You can obtain more cash when you need it from ATM’s which are widely available.  If you can use a debit card on your current account this will cost you less than drawing cash on your credit card.  You will need a valid PIN and it’s a good idea to let your card providers know that you will be using the cards overseas.  There have been instances of cards being suspended because they tripped over ‘unusual usage’ checks at the card provider. You can use a credit card to pay for most products and services in the UK. In Europe including the UK, a PIN is used to authorise card payments instead of a signature.  If you can get a ‘chip and PIN’ version of your card this will ease your way.  However shops and organisations who accept cards can override the PIN requirement and accept your signature to authorise a payment. You just might encounter the occasional shop assistant who is not aware of this!
Travellers cheque can be a useful failsafe.  However you cannot use them to pay for goods and services - they must be exchanged for currency in a bank or bureau de change and you will usually need your passport with you to do this.

What facilities are available in the village of Shillingstone
The village of Shillingstone has a petrol station that also sells newspapers, magazines and a limited selection of  food and drink items.  There is also a soft furnishings shop.  We have a thriving village pub serving wines, beers and food. There is a well organised network of footpaths that allow you to explore the village and countryside and to meet the very friendly locals. The Willow Tea Rooms serves lunches and teas.

Can I access the internet and email at Church House
We have a FREE + Unlimited secure wireless network that you can use with your own wireless enabled device to connect to our broadband internet service.  We also have a Windows 10 laptop computer available for internet access and Email if you prefer.

Do you provide hairdryers in the rooms
Yes

Do the rooms have baths or showers
All rooms have a private bathroom with a bath and shower over the bath.

Is Church House air-conditioned
No.  Air conditioning is not common in British houses, especially 18th century ones.  We are very rarely troubled by excessive heat in the UK. In the unlikely event that there is a problem during your stay we will provide fans as required.

Can you cater for special diets
Yes we can but please advise at the time you book.  Please also refer to our information about how we manage food allergies and intolerances.

What happens if I fall ill during my stay with you.
We will give all necessary assistance. Our local surgery will see you generally on a same day basis.  There is a fee for consultation of around £30 which you should be able to reclaim from your insurer.  There are Accident and Emergency facilities at nearby hospitals.

Can I use my personal electrical appliances in England
The line voltage used in the UK is 240V, whereas the supply in North America is 110V. Many small appliances such as battery chargers for phones and cameras are able to run at either voltage so check the plate on the appliance for more information. If you have a dual voltage device all you need to bring is a converter to enable you to connect to a UK three-pin power outlet (or socket as we call it!). If your equipment runs at 110V only, you will need a transformer to reduce our 240V supply to 110V. If you plug a 110V appliance into a 240V supply without a transformer it will overheat and catch fire. Please bring your own adapters and transformers.