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War of the Roses

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Follow in the footsteps of Heroes

on our In The Footsteps®

War of the Roses Classic Tour

The real Game of Thrones!

Follow in the footsteps of heroes on our In The Footsteps® War of the Roses Classic Tour.

The “War of the Roses” was a series of sporadic dynastic clashes between the Houses of York and Lancaster, the two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, for control of the throne of England. It is one of the civil wars that have occurred in England’s turbulent history and ignited because of the ineffective and weak reign of King Henry VI and the social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years’ War. Spanning a period of just over 32 years, 22 May 1455 − 16 June 1487, it saw some of the most fiercely contested and bloody battles in English History.

Our War of the Roses Classic Tour travels across England to visit the most significant battlefields and locations of this tempestuous period. Your battlefield historian will recount the events that took place and tell you of the acts of valour and treachery that occurred in the often violent and unrestrained fighting. You will follow in the footsteps of the powerful men and women who shaped English History in pursuit of the English Crown.

Our 5-days / 4-nights Classic Tour

The geographical location of the battles of the War of the Roses makes visiting them in chronological order inefficient and our tour has been designed to enable you to visit the most significant within the timeframe allocated. It involves a degree of flexibility as we switch between them.

Day One – The Southern Battles

We begin our tour when we pick you up from your pick-up point at Leicester Railway Station before travelling to St Albans to discuss the First and Second Battles.

The First Battle of St Albans took place on 22 May 1455 and traditionally marks the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York, and his allies, the Neville earls of Salisbury and Warwick, defeated a royal army commanded by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and this was, politically, a complete victory; King Henry VI was captured and Richard restored himself to power. The Duke of Somerset and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland and Lord Clifford, the Nevilles' northern rivals, all fell during the rout and the sudden attack by the 26-year-old Earl of Warwick. This began his famous military career and would lead to his reputation as "the Kingmaker".

The Second Battle of St Albans on 17 February 1461 took place when the Yorkist army under the Earl of Warwick attempted to bar the road to London north of the town. The Lancastrian army took Warwick by surprise by outflanking and cutting him off from London and driving his army from the field. They also released King Henry VI, who had been Warwick's prisoner, but failed to take advantage of their victory.

From St Albans, we head south to Barnet where we discuss the battle that took place on 14 April 1471. Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, Warwick the Kingmaker, had by now changed sides and was leading the Lancastrian army against his former protégé, who was now King Edward IV. This is regarded as one of the most important of the battles in the War of the Roses as it resulted in Warwick’s death and saw the fortunes of the two opposing factions decisively reversed.

Day Two – The East Midlands

Day Two begins exploring the Battle of Edgcote, also known as the Battle of Banbury or the Battle of Danes Moor, that took place on Monday 24 July 1469. It was fought between the Yorkist Royal army commanded by the Earls of Pembroke and Devon against a rebellious force led by supporters of the Earl of Warwick who had fallen out with King Edward IV.

We then head to Northampton where we explore the battlefield close to the River Nene where King Henry VI’s Lancastrian army took up a defensive position in the grounds of Delapré Abbey on 10 July 1460 to bar the Yorkist approach to the town. At two o'clock the Yorkists advanced and turned the left flank of the Lancastrians to roll up their army. The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Egremont, and Lord Beaumont were all killed and the King taken prisoner.

From Northampton we head to Losecoat Field, to the northwest of Stamford, where King Edward IV defeated the poorly organised Welles Uprising on 12 March 1470. It was this battle that led to the defection of the Earl of Warwick and Edward’s brother George, the Duke of Clarence, to the Lancastrian cause.

Day Three – The death of Richard of York and ascendancy of Edward IV

Day Three begins at Sandal Castle where Lancastrian forces, loyal to the captive King Henry VI, clashed with the army of Richard, Duke of York on 30 December 1460. It resulted in a Lancastrian victory and Richard, Duke of York, was killed. His second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland was killed attempting to escape over Wakefield Bridge and Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, was captured and later beheaded.

Shortly after proclaiming himself King in London, Edward IV led a large force north to engage the Lancastrians. On 27 March 1461, the vanguard, under the Earl of Warwick, forced a crossing over the River Aire at Ferrybridge. The next morning the Yorkists were ambushed by a large party of Lancastrians and the bridge, which had been repaired during the night, was destroyed. King Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick arrived later in the day and had to cross the river before pushing on towards Towton, our next stop. The Battle of Towton is probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil with an estimated 50,000 soldiers taking part. The battle was fought on Palm Sunday, 29 March 1461, in a snowstorm and lasted many hours. His decisive victory established Edward IV on the English throne.

Day Four – The battles in the west

The fourth day of our tour begins at Audley's Cross where we discuss the Blore Heath that took place on 23 September 1459. A Yorkist force led by the Earl of Salisbury was on its way to link up with the main Yorkist army at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire from Middleham Castle in Yorkshire. As the Yorkist force marched south-west through the Midlands, Queen Margaret ordered Lord Audley to intercept them.

From Audley's Cross we head to Ludlow for a brief tour of the Battle of Ludford Bridge, a largely bloodless confrontation fought on 12 October 1459.

We then continue south to Mortimer’s Cross where on 2 February 1461 Edward, now the Duke of York, sought to prevent Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke’s Welshmen, from joining the main body of the Lancastrian army. The Lancastrian forces broke and Owen Tudor, Jasper Tudor’s father, was captured and executed at Hereford.

Day Five – The final battles

We begin day five at Tewkesbury where on 4 May 1471 King Edward IV clashed with the Lancastrian forces under Queen Margaret. It was a resounding Yorkist victory and the Lancastrian heir to the throne, Edward, Prince of Wales, and many prominent Lancastrian nobles were either killed during the battle or executed.

We then drive eastward from Tewkesbury to Bosworth where the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on 22 August 1845. King Richard III was killed and he is the last English monarch to die on the battlefield. Historians consider Bosworth Field to mark the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, making it one of the defining moments of English history.

Following our time on the battlefield we head into Leicester and visit the King Richard III Visitor Centre and view King Richard III’s Tomb. This ends your tour and we drop you back at the Railway Station for your onward journey.

Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.

The cost of your tour

The typical cost for a 5-days / 4-nights In the footsteps® War of the Roses Classic Tour is £825.00 GBP * per person.

This price per person is based upon:

A supplement of £125.00 GBP * applies where single occupancy is required.

An additional supplement may apply for anniversary dates to cover any increase in the associated costs.

Booking indicates your acceptance of our Tour Terms and Conditions.

* The costs may vary from those shown above due to the availability and selection of hotels and other associated cost variations at the time of booking.

What your tour includes
What your tour does not include
Optional Extras

Your tour can have optional extras added. We can, for example, add any of the following to your tour: -

Customising your tour

The tour has been designed to give a balanced view of the two competing houses. It can of course be adjusted to suit your personal requirements. These personalised tours are designed specifically for you so that you get to see what you want to see.

Financial Protection

Your money is safe. We are members ot the TTA and all monies paid to us are held in a trust account and cannot be drawn down by us until the tour is over.

Why travel with In The Footsteps?
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Page last updated: 16 July 2021.