Christmastime in the Cotswolds – December 2024

The Cotswold village of Broadway, Worcestershire, England

Christmastime in the Cotswolds

December 12-19, 2024

For the first time, we’re taking Go and Write! to England during the Christmas season on an adventure to awaken our creative souls. Join us from December 12-19, 2024 for an intimate writing retreat that focuses on writing in the peaceful Cotswolds: a perfect combination to be inspired by greatness and reconnect with your literary self.


The twinkling Christmas tree in the Great Hall at Abbots Grange

Who hasn’t dreamed of Christmastime in the Cotswolds? What writer hasn’t wished they could leave worldly cares behind and cross the ocean at this time of year and find themselves in an ancient monastery where artists and writers have, for centuries, come to find solitude and fellowship?

When we came across Abbots Grange in December last year, we knew we’d found our spot where a writer could feel like a writer—where your imagination can take flight while your soul connects with great writers and artists of the past.

For an entire week before Christmas in 2024, we’ll inhabit the ancient halls and walls of a place that time—and the Vikings—forgot.

“In the bleak Midwinter, long, long ago…”

When the English poet Christina Rossetti wrote those lines in 1872, she expressed the eternal optimism of the human spirit at the darkest time of year when hope for brighter days burned strong. That spark, which we associate with the Winter solstice and the Christmas season alike, keeps us leaning forward to the next great adventure in our lives as the sun returns, bringing with it that eternal human yearning for warmth and light.

The Village of Broadway is decorated beautifully, from the shops to the square

For us, that next adventure is in the Cotswolds, England at a most special time of year. There must be something transcendent in that pastoral landscape, particularly during the Christmas/Yule season that inspires a quest for creative greatness.

We hope you’ll join us at Abbots Grange, our most luxurious venue yet, in the delightful Village of Broadway, England.


Costs start at $5,195 CAD (approx. $3,800 USD). Details below.


“Not all who wander are lost.”

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

About Gerard and Janie

Go and Write! with Dr. Gerard Collins and Janie Simpson

Dr. Gerard Collins, originally from Newfoundland, is an award-winning author and educator who has taught and mentored for three decades. His works have won and been nominated for national and international awards, such as the NL Book Awards, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, and the International Dublin Literary Prize, and he has been invited to read and teach at festivals and at universities in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. Gerard has published in numerous journals and anthologies, had his work taught in multiple university courses, and all of his books have been placed in libraries around the world. He was recently invited to be a featured author and workshop leader at the Louisiana Book Festival. See Gerard’s detailed bio here, or visit www.gerardcollins.ca.
Janie Simpson is an award-winning writer and the founding executive and artistic director of the Arts and Culture Centre of Sussex, where she worked until she began pursuing a full time writing career. Her stories have been published in Grain Magazine and Riddle Fence, and she recently received a Canada Council for the Arts grant to complete the first draft of her current project, a novel set on White Head Island, New Brunswick, where she spent much of her childhood. See Janie’s detailed bio here, or visit www.janesimpsonwriter.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kind words from one of our recent retreat participants:

“I am beginning to reflect on the joy the trip has brought me… The tenderness and care you showed us was so evident in the choices of lodging, the comfortable bus rides, and the knowledgeable guides. It was your day-to-day presence, while checking on all of us, that was especially meaningful. I am not certain I can explain the impact, but I feel it has awakened a longing in me and an understanding of something deeper that was not previously there.”
~ Ann K., Go and Write! alumnus


A land steeped in literature

The literary history of England is rich and deep enough to fill this entire page with the names of authors whose works have touched our souls—authors such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wilde, Austen, Dickens, Byron, Shelley, Brontë, Woolf, Pratchett, Fleming, Milne, Larkin, and Barnes. These poets and writers, over the years, have formed our lives and left us, like Prometheus, reaching for that which has always burned within us and remained hidden, unreachable, even transcendent. We are writers for a reason—because we eschew the prescribed life and yearn for something more, to seek out surroundings that remind us of who we really are, of our place in this world, and the importance of telling stories—translating thoughts to words.

As with every Go and Write! retreat, you’ll find yourself in the company of like-minded souls in search of a unique experience together. This Christmastime retreat at Abbots Grange, our most exclusive, unique, and peaceful venue yet, will provide you with respite from the world, sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, within close proximity to one of the quaintest, most beautiful little villages you’ll ever see.

Abbots Grange will be all decked out for the holidays, while the fire crackles and blazes to keep you warm as you sketch out your next scene or nod off beneath the giant tree.

We have exclusive use of this former monastery for the week-long retreat, so while you’ll feel at home amid the antiquitous splendour, you can be forgiven for wondering how you arrived at such a perfect place in your life.

Broadway Village at Christmastime is a special place as lights gleam from every tree and shop along High Street, only steps away from the hobbity garden gate of Abbots Grange.

The garden gate at Abbots Grange – you’ll have a key of your own. Open the door and step right into the illuminated world of downtown Broadway.

You can write in the extreme quiet of the Grange, particularly in the Great Hall before the fire in the enormous old hearth or within the inner sanctum of the dining room—all with a gigantic fresh Christmas tree to add to the hushed wonder.

Writers from our previous retreats at Abbots Grange have described it as “the most extreme quiet imaginable”—a place that can soothe your soul and set your imagination soaring. The writing sessions, the readings, and your daily wanderings, as well as time by the hearth each day and breakfasts together each morning, will inspire you, just as the discussions with an award-winning author and feedback on a sample of your writing will help you see where you’ve been, as well as where you might go, with your craft or latest project.

With only eight rooms available for participants, space is quite limited on this 8-day retreat—all the better to bask in the quiet of the Cotswolds, to listen to birdsong, even at this time of year, intertwined with the thrumming of your heart above the scratch of your pen on paper.


Our adventure begins…

“I think England is the very place for a fluent and fiery writer.”
~ Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet

In the days before the solstice, we’ll arrive in the land of Tolkien, Austen, Lewis, Carroll, Dickens, Shakespeare, and Beatrix Potter, not to mention the world of Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Monty Python, the Beatles, and Bridget Jones. At nearly every turn on the ancient (sometimes cobblestone) streets of Broadway, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Oxford, Moreton-in-Marsh, and Stow-on-the-Wold, you’ll find connections to writers of the past and a plethora of people, places, and smaller personal moments to write about.

Be sure to bring a journal and your favourite writing implements on your travels, for you’ll surely be drawn to some pub or café where great writers have tread. The fates willing, you’ll find a fireside table to sip a pint, philosophize, and get some thoughts down.

Gerard writing at the Horse and Hound beside one of the roaring fires

“If you knew Time as well as I do,” said the Hatter, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it.”

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

On the first morning of our writing retreat, we’ll gather at the Birmingham airport (contact us about timing before you book your flights) and take a private coach to Stratford-upon-Avon, which happens to be on the road to Broadway Village.

William Shakespeare was born in this house and grew up here with his parents and siblings. He also spent the first five years of his marriage living here with his wife Anne Hathaway.

Straford-upon-Avon is a small, easily-navigated village that prides itself on its connections with William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway, but it’s also well-known for its dedication to Christmas celebrations. If you’re feeling peckish, of course, you might stop at any number of cafés or pubs (we’d suggest The Dirty Duck, the centuries-old The Swan, the Old Thatch Tavern or one of numerous others).

The Black Swan or Dirty Duck. Trading as a pub since 1738, and known as the Black Swan since 1776, this popular thespian pub was given its nickname ‘The Dirty Duck’ by locals, and it’s the only pub in England which has a license under two names.

Meanwhile, if you’d prefer to stroll along the bedecked streets of Stratford-upon-Avon, there are myriad shops dedicated to treasures of all sorts, including books, clothing, and the world of Harry Potter.

Once we’ve had a chance to meander the shops, we’ll climb back aboard our private coach, replete with a great Christmas shopping/dining/Shakespeare experience, with the day waning and the lights of the Cotswolds just coming on for the evening, to marvel about the fact that you’ve been in England only a few hours.

The Lights of Broadway

Darkness descends early here, and you’ll be glad of it when we enter the Village of Broadway to see the display of glittering shops, restaurants, pubs, and cafés.

  • The Village of Broadway celebrates Christmas like no other – in early December, locals and their families gather for a one-night Christmas market and tree lighting to greet the season

The days and evenings are quiet here, except on weekends when many of the locals come to the village of Broadway to dine and to shop, to celebrate Christmas—and even then, gentleness reigns. The Cotswolds region of England, through the centuries, has always attracted artists and writers, and it still does. To experience its unassuming beauty at a special time of year will afford us the opportunity to enjoy it as a writer should.

Welcome to Abbots Grange

Abbots Grange, our home for the week
The English have afternoon tea down to an art form

After we’ve arrived at Abbots Grange and been shown to our rooms, we’ll gather in the Great Hall for a traditional English tea service, which includes tea and coffee as well as something to nibble, while we get to know each other and sort out the glorious plan for the week ahead. The writing can start right away, or you can catch a nap or go out to one of the Village of Broadway’s fine restaurants or pubs for a pint or a meal. We can recommend something that might suit your tastes.

It’s really all about the writing

The emphasis for this retreat, even more than most, will be on writing, although there’s plenty for non-writers to do as well, particularly because we are right in the heart of both Broadway and the Cotswolds.

Broadway Tower, an 18th century folly above the village of Broadway

With a writing workshop on our first full morning, we’ll get started right away to get acclimated and acquainted with each other, and relaxed in this beautiful old venue. On that first afternoon,  or early the next day, you’ll have your first one-on-one session with experienced mentor, university professor of English language and literature, and award-winning author Dr. Gerard Collins, to discuss your goals for the week. Enjoy a Nespresso or cuppa tea from the Pulpit Bar—or treat yourself to something stronger—while talking about your writing with someone who’s truly invested in listening and offering words of encouragement or advice as required.

Gerard Collins provides written feedback and meets with each writer to discuss their writing goals on Go and Write retreats
Mike and Gerard discuss Mike’s writing in Ireland
Gerard Collins provides written feedback and meets with each writer to discuss their writing goals on Go and Write retreats
Lois and Gerard meet one-on-one in Ireland

If you’re an emerging writer hoping to see your work in print someday soon, Gerard will talk with you about any part of writing and publishing you might want. The ten-page writing sample you’ll have submitted before the retreat will form the foundation for this discussion.

If you’re a published author—like many on our Go and Write! adventures—you’ll find the empathetic ear and keen eye of a peer with years of experience. No matter how long you’ve been writing or how much you’ve published, the keys to getting the most out of a retreat are mutual respect and dedication to writing.

The Cotswolds, of course, are a mecca of the arts. There’s hardly a famous English author or artist who hasn’t visited here at some point, while many spend their lives coming and going, yearning for its vibrant culture.

Participants

Go and Write! retreat participants range from beginning writers who want to start jotting down their thoughts, to experienced writers who’ve published extensively. Previous attendees include playwrights, poets, novelists, television producers, short story and memoir writers, and everything in between.

Writers can register as individual participants or bring someone to share their room (note that all rooms have one bed only). We often have non-writers join us on retreats, and they’re welcome to participate in as few or as many of the writing activities as they wish. These folks are invited to join us for all of the meals, readings, and any outings that are part of the program, as these elements are included in everyone’s registration.

The Incomparable Abbots Grange

Abbots Grange at night, following the private path that leads from the village to the manor house

Once you enter the magnificent halls of Abbots Grange, you’ll immediately understand why we chose this out-of-the-way venue for our writing retreat. For seven nights and eight days, we’ll call this luxurious, private space, home. You’ll have a cozy and gorgeous bedroom, and we’ll have workshops, chats, and quiet writing time in The Great Hall, with its exquisite décor and roaring fireplace, perhaps with a glass of wine from the Pulpit Bar or whatever you please.

The roaring fire in the Great Hall will warm us every evening

We’ve had the privilege of experiencing this space ourselves, and it’s an inspiring and soothing place in which to imagine, write, and relax.

Writing by the glow of the Christmas tree in the Great Hall

Withdrawn from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Abbots Grange will replenish your soul, and with the luxury of a full week here, with exclusive use, we will truly be able to settle in. A former monastery where famous artists and authors have gathered for centuries, Abbots Grange is just a short stroll from the lovely village of Broadway, and both the venue and the village are naturally quiet and creative spaces.

The history of Abbots Grange runs pretty deep. Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Claude Monet all contribute to the lore of this place, while the stories of William Morris and Frank Millet are intertwined with the narrative of the Grange. Built in 1320 as a summer home for the Abbot of Pershore, Abbots Grange is the oldest dwelling in Broadway and boasts unobstructed views of the Cotswold hills. In 2017, the Eviivo Awards, which celebrate independent hotels in the UK, named it “the best B&B in Britain”.

With extensive upkeep over the centuries, the Grange looks and feels pretty much as it has since its early days, largely thanks to its caretakers, as well as to the intriguing fact that it has somehow survived raids from Vikings and other warriors over the centuries.

Today, Abbots Grange also offers the use of private gardens and grounds that overlook the Cotswold countryside; great for a morning ramble.

The Abbots Grange Courtyard
The Abbots Grange Courtyard

Easing into the flow of the day

Each morning, we’ll gather in the rich, wood-panelled dining room for a full English breakfast from locally-sourced, fresh produce, and set the tone for a day of writing with conversation about the craft, publishing, and matters that matter to us.

We’ll have breakfasts, our group writing sessions, and one-on-one chats in the Dining Room

Gerard will host two group writing sessions during our stay at Abbots Grange, and, because this retreat, by design, has a low number of participants, he will also be able to meet with each writer for two one-on-one chats to check in with you about your writing. We will also host group readings of our own work on one or two evenings during the retreat, for those who feel like sharing something they’ve written (it’s never an obligation, just a great opportunity).


The Village of Broadway

While we envision this retreat to be creative and inspirational, it’s our close proximity to the beautiful, small village of Broadway that makes it the ideal location. Abbots Grange is just across the road from Broadway’s ‘picture perfect’ village High Street.

We can personally attest that  the Village of Broadway, with its delightful variety of boutique shops, inns, and restaurants, is an ideal place to roam for a while as you work out an idea or seek distraction. As the town website says, “The pretty High Street is lined with horse chestnut trees and includes a mixture of period houses and picturesque honey-coloured Cotswold stone cottages which have lured visitors for centuries.” We’re quite sure those same qualities will have you enthralled as well.

You’ll find plenty of shops along High Street, along with interesting places to visit, and, of course, myriad pubs, cafés, and restaurants where you’ll find great food and libations, as well as a cozy corner to ponder, take notes, and write. There are several places with wood fires to light your imagination.

There’s also the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery, where you can learn more about the world famous colony of artists who visited Broadway, many of whom stayed at Abbots Grange.

Broadway Village was originally centred around the old church, St. Eadburgha’s, and the stream at Bury End (records from the 9th century) and is recorded in more detail in the Domesday Book of 1086. High Street, or the “broad way,” after which the village is named, grew as the centre of the village gradually expanded northwards to its present location. The coaching route opened up in the 1500s, and Broadway became a busy stage coach stop on the route from Worcester to Oxford and London. A number of inns were built to accommodate travelers, including many authors and artists who have walked these roads and stopped in these same places, such as Abbotts Grange, which, itself, has hosted many esteemed personages over the years.

Here’s a short video that shows how you get from the Abbots Grange manor house to the Village of Broadway:

For a better idea of where we’ll be immersed for our eight-day retreat, have a look at the charming, well-made video about the Village of Broadway, below. There’s prominent mention of Abbotts Grange. Having spent time in Broadway, ourselves, we can say without hesitation that, for as beautiful and peaceful as he makes it look, the reality is far better—and Abbotts Grange itself is a world within a world where many artists, writers, and philosophers have come seeking solace and inspiration. We count ourselves among those who have found exactly that and are joyful to be returning there very soon with like-minded souls.

Whether you’ve had a leisurely day on the go or if you’ve stayed in to focus on your writing, afternoon tea will be served in the Great Hall each day. You’ll likely have lunch or supper in the village, and some evenings, we’ll gather in the Great Hall, with its roaring log fire and cozy couches, for an opportunity to share our writing in comfort and intimacy.


Accommodations at the Abbots Grange

Although we’ve taken Go and Write! retreats to castles, villas, and island hideaways, Abbots Grange is easily our most luxurious venue yet. All of the rooms are well-appointed and impressive, and they’re arranged into two price categories based on the venue’s recommendation. See pricing details below.

Heritage Rooms: Millet, Monet, Morris, and Sargent

Each of the spacious, lavish, and individually-designed Heritage Rooms come with solid oak four poster beds dressed with a canopy and the finest Egyptian cotton sheets, seating areas, flat screen televisions and Wi-Fi, adjustable lighting, fluffy bathrobes, and welcome trays with tea and coffee making facilities. We’ve borrowed the descriptions below from the Abbots Grange website.

Millet
Named after Francis Millet, the renowned American artist and previous owner of Abbots Grange who died on the Titanic, this en-suite room features an impressive barrel-vaulted ceiling and triple aspect over the grounds and Cotswold hills beyond.

The Millet is bright and spacious, offering a King-sized four-poster bed, private seating area, and a fluffy bathrobe. There’s also a window seat for enjoying the in-room welcome tray with tea and coffee making facilities.


Monet
Named after the French artist Claude Monet (another regular at Abbots Grange), this superbly proportioned room—with separate bathroom—boasts a 10 foot wide, feature window overlooking the grounds and formal gardens. While this room does not have an ensuite bathroom, we have exclusive use of the venue and the Monet bathroom is private and just across the corridor (see layout illustration).

The Monet has a gorgeous, King-sized four-poster bed with canopy, a writing desk and seating area, and a fluffy bathrobe. There’s also a window seat for enjoying the tea and coffee making facilities.


Morris
Named after William Morris, who supervised the restoration of Abbots Grange by Millet, this en-suite room is beautifully proportioned with double aspect and impressive, walk in Travertine wet room.


Sargent 
Named after renowned impressionist artist John Singer Sargent—a regular visitor to Abbots Grange—this delightful, double aspect en-suite room overlooks the croquet lawn and gardens.

 

Learn more about the Abbots Grange Heritage Rooms.

Luxury Suites: Abbot’s Chambers, Elizabethan Suite, Carriage Room, and Coach House Suite

Abbots Grange Manor House is one of Britain’s best preserved medieval, monastic manor houses. The venue has won several hospitality awards, and it shows in their extraordinary, luxurious suites.

Abbot’s Chambers

The ancient stone stairway off the Great Hall leads to the Abbot’s private chambers and oratory.  Generously proportioned, the spectacular monastic medieval architecture blends with modern day comforts, including adjustable lighting and a small refrigerator.

With a 25-foot high vaulted ceiling, ancient oak beams, and your very own huge, open fireplace, the Abbot’s Chambers is a celebration of medieval craftsmanship and offers unmatched creative inspiration.

Note: The stone stairway leading up to the Abbot’s Chambers, while not steep or long, requires care due to the unusual step arrangement and original rope hand-rail and is not recommended for individuals with walking difficulties.

Learn more about the Abbot’s Chambers.


Elizabethan Suite

Leading directly off the medieval Great Hall and up an ancient stone stairway, you’ll discover the Elizabethan Suite, one of the most atmospheric and romantic suites in England.

If walls in this part of the building could talk, they would have tales to tell stretching back over 700 years of England’s historic past. In more recent times, when renowned artist Francis Millet restored Abbots Grange in the mid-1880s, the Elizabethan Parlour became his favourite room—it was here that he laboured over so many of his finest oil paintings, artworks and sketches.

Note: The stone stairway leading up to the Elizabethan Suite, while not steep or long, requires care due to the unusual step arrangement and original rope hand-rail and is not recommended for individuals with walking difficulties.

Learn more about the Elizabethan Suite.


Coach House Suite

A few steps from the main house you’ll find the beautiful Coach House Suite, occupying an entire floor and accessed from an outside set of stairs. With 20-foot high vaulted ceilings, a King-sized four-poster bed, and a Romeo and Juliet balcony with unrestricted quadruple aspect views out over the grounds and Cotswolds hills, you can’t help but be inspired.

Designed for privacy, the Coach House Suite, with its exposed timbers and Cotswold stone, has an open plan with separate lounge and bedroom areas and an in-room, duo-bath as well as a walk-in shower. It features a built-in Bluetooth sound system for those who like to listen to music when they write, adjustable lighting to help set the mood for creativity, and a small refrigerator.

Learn more about the Coach House Suite.


Carriage Room

Privacy and luxury with the best views, and just steps away from the main house, this ground floor accommodation has unrestricted, double aspect views over the Cotswold hills and the advantage of its own private outdoor patio. Features leaded light windows and French doors, a modern Bluetooth sound system, adjustable lighting to help set the stage for writing, and a small refrigerator.

A sumptuous King-sized four-poster bed, a walk-in, drench shower, and indoor and outdoor seating areas complete this extraordinarily well-appointed ground floor accommodation.

Learn more about the Carriage Room.


Day tour of Oxford and the Cotswolds: Alice in Wonderland meets Harry Potter

Because Go and Write! is as much about going as it is about writing, part of our Abbots Grange stay will include a tour of the area. Naturally, we try not to schedule too much of your adventure. You’ll want to see and do the things that matter most to you, and while there’ll certainly be common ground, it won’t be the same for everyone. So, while there’s a healthy amount of social time throughout our English retreat, we also leave plenty of time for you to engage in your own way and to make time for writing as you go. Also, we encourage—and provide—alone time, because that’s when words get written.

Oxford

We’ll begin our day tour by whisking you away on our private coach to Oxford, a place so other-worldly it inspired W.B. Yeats to muse, “I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking.”

  • The Dining Hall at Oxford, one of the places we'll visit on our day trip

There are too many literary associations to name in Oxford, from Lewis Carroll to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and, of course, Evelyn Waugh, as well as the university where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed—the dining hall at Christchurch will be of particular interest to Potterites, as well as certain other places that will seem strangely familiar. You’ll also step inside the Bodleian library, catch sight of the Bridge of Sighs familiar to readers of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and some other places once occupied by now-revered authors.

The Cotswolds Region

“Think of England as a very large book, and the Cotswolds would be an unfussy chapter in the middle somewhere where there is lots of limestone and even more sheep.”

~ Susan Meissner, American author of A Charmed Life

We wouldn’t bring you to the Cotswolds without actually seeing the Cotswolds. While we’re not sure you’ll take one step farther from home than you’ve ever been, we’ll make sure you see Stow-on-the-Wold where you won’t even need to speak “friend” in Elvish to enter a famous door and Moreton in Marsh, where we you can say you visited The Bell Inn, said to be inspiration for Tolkien’s “Prancing Pony.”

We’ll end our day with a group Christmas supper at England’s oldest inn and pub, The Porch House, where you can actually see “witch marks” on the ancient fireplace.

  • The Bell Inn, the inspiration for Tolkein's pub, The Prancing Pony

Those highlights provide a focal point, but it’s the quiet majesty of these towns that lure us, as they’ve done for millions of people over the centuries—and again we’ll remind you, that’s a major reason why we’re going in mid-December—all the better to ponder a menu, or your work in progress, in relative peace.

Famous for its ancient, unspoiled beauty, the Cotswolds have clear and strong connections with many authors: Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, J.R.R. Tolkien, and T.S. Eliot, among many others, have found inspiration and respite in this idyllic region. The point here, of course, as with all such lists, is that you might find yourself in tune with the spirit, not only of these famous authors, but of the place itself.

Whether the Cotswolds, Stratford, Broadway, Oxford, or Abbots Grange, one might well anticipate that if so many have come here before for inspiration, so might you.


Back to Birmingham

“O Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

(Bonus points if you can identify which Shakespeare character utters those pained words.)

We’ll have a final, fare-thee-well breakfast at Abbots Grange before we depart at 11:00 a.m. and make our way back to Birmingham by private coach, where you can catch a flight home or continue your travels.

Join us on our next adventure.

Janie and Gerard in Ireland
Janie and Gerard in Ireland

 

Sure, you can write anywhere, but you can also write in a 14th century manor house in the Cotswolds, maybe even a little in Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, too. Join us as we find inspiration in a country that honours its writers as if they were gods and goddesses.

On Go and Write! retreats, you won’t find expectations of daily word counts, but you will find plenty of encouragement. Like something out of Canterbury Tales, you’ll find yourself among like-minded souls with hopes, aspirations, and stories to tell.

We always suggest you bring something to write on, because you really can write anywhere. Pubs, coffeehouses, park benches, or outside the house of a famous literary figure—the world is yours to write about. No one can stop you. It’s up to you to value your own time, which sometimes will mean saying, “Not today” to the gods of distraction. Other times, it will mean going down the rabbit hole.

Join us, then, for a Christmastime retreat at an ancient monastery, a creative haven of inspiration and reflection for artists and writers for countless years.


A note from a recent retreat participant

“It is not an exaggeration to say this retreat changed my life! I have been struggling for years to finish a personal memoir draft. Just a few days on our retreat, and my writing and I turned a corner. I had the breakthrough that had eluded me for years. The combination of Gerard’s insightful guidance, the support of the other writers who became instant soulmates, and the Irish tradition of storytelling in an 18th century castle proved to be life-changing.

“I am close to finishing my memoir draft, and I give all credit to Go and Write for providing the environment that enabled me to write and organize my thoughts.  I have opened myself up to the possibilities ahead, and I’m feeling better about my writing than I have in years.

“My deepest thanks to Gerard and Jane…”

~ Gloria R.B., Go and Write! alumnus


Go!

  • 7 nights, 8 days at the Abbots Grange manor house
  • 7 breakfasts; second breakfast is up to you. Elevenses, same
  • 1 supper
  • Visit Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born and lived
  • Day tour of the Cotswolds and Oxford
  • Time to explore the Village of Broadway, a 2-minute walk from Abbots Grange
  • Non-writing participants are welcome to take part in as few or as many of the elements of the retreat as they wish
  • Land transfers

Write!

  • Professional, honest, and thoughtful written commentary on your pre-submitted writing sample from Dr. Gerard Collins, an award-winning author and university professor of English language and literature—helpful for all writing levels
  • Two group writing sessions
  • Two one-on-one chats with Gerard and regular check-ins throughout the retreat
  • Group readings and discussions with Gerard and other writers
  • Ample quiet time and opportunity for writing, inspiration, idea-gathering, and solitude

A major difference between Go and Write! and most travel companies or writing retreats is the personalized aspect of our tours. We ensure there’s both social time and alone time built into the itinerary, as well as plenty of time for wandering and gathering thoughts in a solitary fashion. We encourage writers to give each other space, although social time also guaranteed, if that’s what you’d like. Note, also, that we don’t compel strangers to share a room as most writers prefer solitude or, at most, the company of a friend or family member of their own choosing.

In all, we pride ourselves on being open and inclusive and, being writers ourselves first and foremost, we imagine the best writing retreat possible and try our best to deliver on that ideal.


Kind words from one of our 2022 retreat participants:

“I am beginning to reflect on the joy the trip has brought me… The tenderness and care you showed us was so evident in the choices of lodging, the comfortable bus rides, and the knowledgeable guides. It was your day-to-day presence, while checking on all of us, that was especially meaningful. I am not certain I can explain the impact, but I feel it has awakened a longing in me and an understanding of something deeper that was not previously there.”
~ Ann K., Go and Write! alumnus


Check out our entire 2024 retreat lineup!

St Andrews by-the-Sea, NB, Canada, May 4-11 OR Oct 23-30, 2024

St. Martin’s, NB, Canada, July 7-14, 2024

Into the West: Ireland, September 13-27, 2024

Retreat to the Highlands, Scotland, November 24 – December 5, 2024

Christmastime in the Cotswolds, England, December 12-19, 2024

Additional locations we’re working on for 2025 and beyond:

Newfoundland

Italy


COST

We have split the rooms at Abbots Grange into two categories, as per the venue’s recommendation and fees.

Please also note that there is NOT a surcharge for single travellers. The true cost of the retreat is based on the single price, but if you register as a double and travel with someone else, you share the room costs, which lowers the price per person. You must be prepared to share a bed as there are no twin options in any of the rooms at Abbots Grange.

Retreat including a Heritage Room at Abbots Grange
Double: $5,195 CAD (approx. $3,795 US) per person, including tax.
Single: $7,195 CAD (approx. $5,256 US) per person, including tax.
See Heritage Rooms.

Retreat including a Luxury Suite at Abbots Grange
Double: $6,195 CAD (approx. $4,525 US) per person, including tax.
Single: $8,895 CAD (approx. $6,498 US) per person, including tax.
See Luxury Suites: Abbot’s Chambers, Elizabethan Suite, Coach House Suite, Carriage Room

Contact Us

 

Note: All rooms at Abbots Grange have one bed, not two. Final payment is due August 9, 2024, and we can arrange staggered payments for you at no extra cost. Airfare is not included and travellers are responsible for arranging their own flights. The number of spots available on this retreat is limited due to the small number of rooms at Abbots Grange and our desire to offer an intimate experience to our writers and travellers.

Costs are in Canadian dollars, taxes included, land only. We have estimated US prices for US customers’ convenience only—the prices are based on conversions made with the information we had on-hand at the time and are non-binding.

A non-refundable deposit of $1,200 CAD per person is due when you reserve your space.

Note: Rates shown do not include credit card processing fees. For those paying by credit card, we will have to add 2.4% and the fee is non-refundable. For Canadians, we’re able to offer an e-transfer option to save you processing fees. For other registrants, we also accept international bank transfers; please research the processing fees charged by your bank as you’re responsible to pay those fees. Contact us for more information.

Some people choose to pay by credit card if it has an associated trip insurance policy. It is your responsibility to research and understand details around any insurance coverage associated with your credit card. Visit our Expectations, Rules, and Refunds page for more information about the importance of trip insurance.

A few notes

You may be required to climb stairs and walk over uneven ground at certain points during the retreat, and Abbots Grange requires you to be able to climb stairs to your room unless you reserve the Carriage Room.

A valid passport is required—you could be turned away at the airport if your passport is within a few months of expiry, so be sure to check your passport expiry date against what the host country will allow. This almost happened to us—it was only by the grace of the attendant that we were allowed to board the plane!

Trip insurance

Travel cancellation, interruption, and health insurance is highly recommended. Participants are responsible to research the implications of travel restrictions at home and abroad before and at the time of travel. Ensure you have everything you need so you aren’t turned away from establishments or airports.

Your non-refundable portion of your deposit is 100% non-refundable. If you cancel up to 6 months before a retreat for any reason, any other payments you’ve made to us are returned to you, less the non-refundable deposit and payment processing fees. If you cancel from 4-6 months before a retreat, we will return 75% of any fees paid less your non-refundable deposit and payment processing fees. If you cancel within 4 months of the start of a retreat, any fees paid cannot be returned. If the retreat needs to be postponed, we will make every attempt to reschedule. We can only offer refunds if our providers also refund monies to us.

Due to contractual obligations with our suppliers, we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy, regardless of the reason.

All participants are required to review our Expectations, Rules and Refunds page and acknowledge agreement with the contents before registering for a Go and Write! retreat.