Cotswold Villages

The Cotswolds are known as the Heart of England – where time has stood still for 300 years. Located in central-southwest England and only roughly 40 kilometres across and 140 kilometres long, the area is dotted with villages that are quintessentially English.

In medieval England, wool was a huge industry and Cotswold sheep grew the best wool. Wool money built fine villages and buildings. However, the Industrial Revolution and the rise of cotton caused the woollen industry to collapse and the area fell into a depressed time warp. Today, tourism is the biggest industry and the Cotswolds are prospering again. The affluent area in the 21st century has attracted wealthy Londoners and others who own second homes there or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.

Throughout the Cotswolds, stone buildings and walls act as a common thread in seamlessly blending the historic towns & villages with their surrounding landscape. We roamed the area for a few days, stopping at villages as we passed through them.

Most villages have grand local churches that are called ‘cathedrals’ because of their size and grandeur. These ‘wool’ churches were built from wool money and are well preserved for all to enjoy.

Thatched Roof Cottages in Minster Lovell

Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton is probably the most touristy town in the Cotswolds – and we couldn’t really see it’s charm. It was pretty, albeit overrun with tourists, but really didn’t have the the quaintness of many of the other villages we passed through. It’s redeeming quality (at least to Harvey) is the Cotswold Motoring Museum which contains an entertaining collection of autos from the earliest days through to the 70’s. If you are a car enthusiast, it’s worth a visit if you are in the area.

Lower and Upper Slaughter

These two villages are delightful, with a great 15 minute walk through the trees and fields between them. We would definitely recommend stopping in at the Lower and taking the stroll to Upper and back.

The Church of St. Mary, Lower Slaughter – St Mary’s was almost completely rebuilt in 1867 by the lord of the manor, Charles Shapland Whitmore, in the Early English and Decorated styles. It contains, however, an early 13th-century arcade of four bays and a piscina.
St. Mary’s Church
Lower Slaughter
Lower Slaughter (and Harvey)
The working Old Mill – Lower Slaughter
Trail to Upper Slaughter
Sheep along the trail
The Ford across the River Eye in Upper Slaughter
Upper Slaughter
St. Peter’s Church, Upper Slaughter – The building we see today is mainly 12th-century, with extensive restoration in 1877.

Cheltenham

We visited the Cheltenham Cemetery to pay tribute to a special lady, the mother of someone dear to us. It is a massive cemetery and we were very pleased when we found the memorial we were looking for. As an aside, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones is also buried in this cemetery.

Broadway

Broadway is a pretty little town, filled with cute shops and tiny teahouses. We had a nice lunch in one and then continued on to see some nearby sites.

Broadway central square

Broadway Tower is one of England’s outstanding viewpoints and, at 1024 feet (312m) above sea level, it is the second highest point on the Cotswold Ridge. Built in 1799, it is a perfect example of an eighteenth century Gothic folly from which it is possible to survey an area which includes as many as thirteen counties.

Typical Cotswold stone fence
Cotswold Lavender – a 53 acre farm filled with gorgeous lavender blossoms

Northleach

Northleach was a major wool centre in the Middle Ages, resulting in an impressive main square and gothic church. It is a lovely village for a short stop.

The Church of St Peter and St Paul is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Cotswolds’. The Church dates from the early 12th century, and was built on top on an even earlier building, also believed to have been a church. Many changes have been made, most notably in the 15th century when the wool market thrived, resulting in one of the finest ‘wool’ churches in the Cotswolds.

Tetbury

Tetbury is a historic market town that also is a great stop. We were very impressed with the elegant church!

Market Square
Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Mary Magdalen. There has been a Christian place of worship on the site of St Marys’ since at least 681 AD. The present church was built following the demolition of the medieval church in 1777.
The Chipping Steps – a medieval set of cobbled steps that used to be an old entrance to the town, lined by an adorable row of old weavers cottages

We stayed for 3 nights in the delightful town of Stow-on-the-Wold. More to come on that in our next blog.

Cheers,

Bev & Harvey

2 thoughts on “Cotswold Villages

  1. Bev,
    Broadway Tower, the folly on the high point was I think featured in the British series Father Brown. The murdered man ‘fell’ from the tower and was initially assumed by the police to be suicide and it was a classic locked door mystery.
    I like your posts and trust that you’re coping with the extreme heat, drinking Dianne’s favourite cider.

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