3 Reasons to Visit the Cotswolds for your Next Holiday

If you’re looking to fly off to a far-flung destination (as soon as such a thing is possible again) that is unlike any other, the quintessentially English towns of the Cotswolds offer a colourful mix of rich, cultural heritage, picture postcard perfect architectural wonders, villages built from the iconic honey coloured local limestone, and vibrant, natural wonders everywhere your eyes land on.

The idyllic scenery is ideal for those who want to escape to quiet English countryside that isn’t short on its entertainment with its selection of restaurants, pubs, sparkling streams, and a wide range of National Trust sites nestled in between the rolling hills. If you want more reasons to visit Cotswolds

1. Peaceful Countryside Experience

London is usually rife with the hustle and bustle of popular cities, but the Cotswolds offers both a rural escape where tourists and locals alike can breathe in the fresh air and take in stunning sights, as well as the excitement and energy of popular towns and small cities like Cirencester, Cheltenham, Burford and more.

If you visit during the winter months, you can enjoy the scenery without running into crowds of tourists.

It’s the best place to unwind and take a stroll around the tranquil streets of the Cotswolds villages, where you can relish honey-coloured, stone cottages with lush village greens and distinctive architecture in the background.

Each village provides a different experience, from the slow and serene pace in Snowshill village to the sophisticated and glamorous vibe of Broadway.

Wherever you choose, you’ll find yourself in a picture-perfect slice of Cotswold life.

2. Cosy Accommodations Abound

In between the lush forest-covered landscape, rolling hills, and quaint villages, there are various rental cottages and pubs that offer a comfortable and charming places to stay for the night.

Of course, there are also luxurious hotels with grand acres of garden space for those who want to elevate their experience.

Either way, you’ll find the ideal place to relax and settle in for the rest of your holiday. Ellenborough Park, for instance, is home to an up-scale hotel set in between Cleeve Hill and Cheltenham.

It’s a perennial favourite as the place has instant access to Cotswold’s highest point and a world-renowned racecourse, making it boutique accommodation that is rich in history.

3. Interesting Historical Sites

In the midst of your country walks are sites of interesting historical sites and landmarks like the Abbey at Tewkesbury, which is the second-largest parish church in the entire country.

There are also unique choices such as the largest Romano-British villa, which is situated in the scenic town of Chedworth.

If you’re looking for a majestic slice of medieval architecture, Sudeley Castle near Cheltenham stands tall for over a whopping one thousand years.

It’s the ideal place to immerse yourself in centuries of British history, where you can also pay respect to the resting place of Catharine Parr and Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife.

Another significant historical landmark is the Blenheim Palace, which is found in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

It’s one of the most awe-inspiring and grandest houses in England, so much so that it earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site title in 1987.

Conclusion: Visiting the Cotswolds is a Must for Adventurous Travellers

Cotswold’s offers a slice of countryside paradise with its miles of undulating hills, undisturbed footpaths, honey-painted stone villages, and world-renowned heritage sites in between.

It’s a must-visit for history buffs, while tourists or locals who want to take a break from the city can find peace in this quintessential town.

If you’re looking to discover more about the Cotswolds, get in touch with us to see how we can help!

5 Breathtakingly Beautiful Cotswolds Castles

A trip to the English countryside in the Cotswolds will quickly squash any doubts that you might have, as to why the region was officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Here, you’ll find rolling hills of lush grassland, winding waterways, and a predominantly rural landscape that will seemingly transport you many hundreds of years into the past.

While you could very well enjoy a visit here by exploring what secrets lie in its famous stone-built villages, if you are a fan of the spectacular, some of the more grandiose attractions to go visit, are the large and historically significant castles that are a common sight throughout the area.

In this article, we’ll list some of the best ones that are worth visiting. In no particular order, these must-see castles include the following:

1. Sudeley Castle

Enjoy both a history lesson and spectacular garden views as you make your way around Sudeley Castle.

Sudeley Castle
Inside the grounds of Sudeley Castle

The castle was once home to many of England’s past royals, and you’ll get to see how they lived their lives in opulence.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped with formal gardens that are fit for a queen.

In fact, Queen Katherine Parr, the last of King Henry VIII’s wives and the only one to survive him, now rests eternally in St. Mary’s Church, an historic landmark that sits in Sudeley Castle grounds.

An aerial photo of Sudeley Castle, showing the extent of the buildings and gardens
The castle and St Mary’s church, with the parterre garden in the foreground

2. Broughton Castle

This moated manor is privately owned by the Fiennes family, but certain rooms inside the castle are open to the public. The manor itself is built atop an artificial island that’s fully surrounded by water. If you take the time to wander the grounds, which we advise that you do, you’ll be greeted by well-decorated rooms and scenic gardens that will surely inspire awe.

Although this manor-house/castle is slightly outside of the Cotswolds AONB it’s worth considering if you are going to be visiting the area.

3. Berkeley Castle

Another castle that is just outside of the AONB, this castle was built in the 12th century to be the home of the Berkeley family and up to this day, it remains under their care.

It’s a family-oriented attraction in that educational tours and history-inspired performances are a common feature to be found.

If you’re looking to do more than just explore medieval hallways and gardens (which you can), Berkeley Castle provides a more engaging experience than other castles on this list.

4. Beverston Castle

Also known as Tetbury Castle, Beverston Castle was constructed to be a stone fortress that stood tall against invaders. Today, however, it is considered a ruin, possessing only a portion of its former glory. The grounds are still worthy of visiting, though. You’ll find stunning medieval architecture and extensive gardens enriched further by the historic significance of the site.

5. Warwick Castle

Historic Warwick castle, in the city of the same name is a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade I listed building.

The castle is over 1100 years old but has been restored to its former glory, having survived many attempts to destroy it over the years.

Also just outside the AONB but if you are planning a visit to Stratford on Avon then it’s worth stopping off here too and you can even stay here overnight.

Conclusion

With picturesque views and strong links to England’s rich history, these castles are definitely an adventure that you shouldn’t miss. If you are interested in learning more about the Cotswolds and what you can experience here, sign up for our newsletter today and we’ll be happy to guide you.

5 Must See Places to Visit in the Cotswolds

Arlington Row, Bibury

The English region known as the Cotswolds is mainly known for its beautiful, rolling hills and rustic scenery.

The Jurassic limestone-rich grasslands—a particularly unique habitat in the UK—contain many stone-built villages and lush gardens that accentuate its peaceful glamour.

Spanning 800 square miles of land, the Cotswolds was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 and is currently England’s largest AONB.

The Cotswolds region is definitely a sight to behold and is a prime spot for fans of nature and history.

Should you happen to be visiting the area, make sure to take a try to plan a stop at these five must-see places to visit in the Cotswolds.

1. Lower Slaughter

Don’t let the name fool you, Lower Slaughter is a charming little village bisected by a river and decorated with honey-coloured architecture.

It also houses what might be regarded as Britain’s most romantic street—Copsehill Road (which ironically is quite flat).

When you pass by this district, make sure to pay a visit to the Old Mill for an historical treat and Lower Slaughter Manor’s Gardens for the best view in the whole town.

Entrance to the Slaughters Manor House
The Slaughters Manor House, Lower Slaughter

2. Kingham

Voted in 2006 as “England’s Favourite Village,” this beautiful, unspoiled village features rows of limestone and thatch cottages and a large open green.

When you get to Kingham, make sure to stop by the Wild Rabbit pub to relax with a pint by the open fire and enjoy the music.

The Kingham Plough, Kingham
The Kingham Plough, not the Wild Rabbit

If you happen to be around at the end of August, you might be able to catch the Big Feastival at Alex James’ Cotswolds farm. Celebrate the August Bank Holiday with some food, drinks, and music, and enjoy the company of locals and tourists alike.

3. Blockley

Once the centre of silk production in the 18th and 19th centuries, Blockley’s mills have long since been converted into lodgings.

The gorgeous golden stone cottages make it look like the village was plucked from a fairy tale and deposited in the majestic scenery of Blockley’s sweeping plains.

The Blockley Café and The Great Western Arms are definite go-to spots for food, drink, and comfort.

4. Bibury

Once called the “most beautiful village in England” by famed designer William Morris, the iconic hamlet of Bibury is well-known for its traditional stone houses.

Dotted with famously photographed chocolate box houses, it is also the home of the River Coln.

Arlington Row, Bibury
Arlington Row as seen from across the River Coln

Take a walk through history by walking along Arlington Row—a row of 14th-century weaver’s cottages—and visiting the Bibury Trout Farm—one of Britain’s oldest trout farms.

5. Castle Combe

Castle Combe’s picturesque facade has been featured in several movies like War Horse and Doctor Dolittle.

This Cotswold village is filled with limestone cottages and stone-tiled roofs, all perfectly framed by the lush green of the trees surrounding it.

Look for the iconic Town Bridge when you arrive here, and relish the view of this grandiose village.

Conclusion

These are only a few of the many little villages contained within the vast AONB called the Cotswolds.

There is more to see, and even more to do in this region, so plan your trips wisely and take in as much of the grandeur this region can offer.

If you are interested in visiting the Cotswolds, then get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

3 Reasons You Should Visit the Cotswolds Today

Known as the home of England’s finest scenic landscapes and natural experiences, the Cotswolds has established itself as the perfect destination for anyone seeking inspiration and adventure. 

The Cotswolds is a countryside escape consisting of 113 towns and villages all within easy reach of all the UK’s major airports.

Cotswold stone cottages in Stanton
Classic Cotswolds cottages in the village of Stanton

It may be easy to see how beautiful the Cotswolds are based on images and descriptions of the area’s rolling green pastures and time-travelling villages alone, but what makes the area worth visiting in the first place?

Here are just a few reasons you should consider visiting

If you’ve been meaning to go for a relaxing holiday in a natural paradise, that isn’t too far from home (depending on where you live, of course), here are three reasons you should consider visiting the Cotswolds above all else: 

There are dozens of charming and picture-worthy villages in the area

Taking a trip to the Cotswolds and visiting its villages is akin to taking a time machine and getting stuck in the olden days of England when jousting and jesters were still popular forms of entertainment. Actually, if you visit the Cotsowlds Olimpicks you can still see a bit of jousting.

As soon as you enter the area, the Cotswolds instantly greets you with dozens of cottages that were built with the characteristic local limestone and outfitted with colourful flower boxes, and sometimes tricky-to-pronounce place names (we’re looking at you Guiting Power).

Guiting Guest House in Guiting Power

If you’re looking to take a trip back in time and enjoy some of the most aesthetically-delightful examples of old-English living and architecture, then a visit to the Cotswold’s villages is a must-include in your itinerary.

The rich history of the region itself makes it perfect for any history nut

Speaking of old English history, the Cotswolds has also established itself as a premier tourist destination thanks to the fact that its origins extend as far back as five millenniums ago.

With an expansive 5,000-year history that covers the Neolithic and medieval periods, it’s no secret that the Cotswolds is the perfect destination for any type of history buff.

For instance, heading over to the Avebury Stone Circle (like a slightly less famous version of Stone Henge) will throw you back to 2850 to 2200 B.C., long before Christianity came to England and was subsequently adopted.

Aside from pre-Christian monuments, visitors can also appreciate the Cotswolds’ rich history by visiting the 15th-century Sudeley Castle, which sits on the outskirts of Winchcombe.

Aerial photo of Sudeley Castle, near Winchcombe
Sudeley Castle, with the village of Winchombe visible in the background. Aerial picture provided by https://grantadronesolutions.co.uk

On the other hand, visiting history nuts can also visit the Hailes Abbey ruins and observe the remnants of what the Earl of Cornwall founded in 1246.

You Can Get Around by Bike

Despite its large(ish) total area, the Cotswolds lends itself to exploration by bike, especially for the keener cyclists.

Thanks to the fact that many key spots in the Cotswolds are within close proximity to others, guests can explore the region itself by mountain biking to see the countryside in full splendid detail.

For instance, the place is outfitted with dozens of extremely-popular mountain biking and cycling routes, such as the Winchcombe Circular route and Burford Circular Ride, all of which guarantee to provide priceless experiences! 

Final words

With its splendid landscapes, rich historical origins, and beautiful villages, it’s no secret that the Cotswolds are a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore one of the best English regions.

Aside from the key points mentioned on this list, however, there are several more reasons to visit the Cotswolds once you arrive in the area itself, all of which can be best enjoyed with a tour.

If you are interested in learning more about the Cotswolds, then get in touch with us today.

Our Guide to a Perfect Trip to the Cotswolds

A view along the river Eye in Lower Slaughter, in winter

The Cotswolds are arguably Britain’s worst kept secret.

Quintessentially British and England at its best. An extended holiday or even just a short break will leave you mesmerised and wanting more, making you plan for the next trip back the moment you return home.

Houses in Chipping Campden
The Cotswolds market town of Chipping Campden

The Cotswolds runs through five counties – Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire, and Oxfordshire – and covers a vast area of almost 800 square miles.

Many travellers would take delight in exploring different areas in Cotswolds, each with its unique identity and defining features—the golden stone, and the rolling hills or  “wolds” that give the region its name.

Marvel and explore quintessentially ‘English’ villages, made up of cottages built from honey-coloured stone, walk through marvellous landscapes along historic trails, visit some of the country’s amazing castles, palaces, and country-styled houses, or simply relax in its lake-land area with its own inland beach.

The present-day Cotswolds, as with other fairy-tale regions of Europe, is the product of economic success that ultimately waned. The rise and then subsequent collapse of the woollen industry.

Broadway road in Winchcombe
An eclectic mix of houses along Broadway road in Winchcombe

The once-wealthy towns fell into a distressing time warp. Today, the Cotswolds has become an enchanting part of the world and visitors can have a fascinating time enjoying a harmonious mix of nature and man.

Planning Your Trip to Cotswolds – Getting There

The Cotswolds is an array of tiny and time-passed villages and bustling towns, nestled in the English countryside and is about two hours by car (in good traffic) west and slightly north of London.

Most of the places are near each other, with Bath about an hour and a half to the south, Stratford-upon-Avon just about half an hour to the north, and Oxford an hour to the east.

You can also travel to the Cotswolds from around the UK without a car.

Trains are available departing from Paddington Station and getting off at Moreton-in-Marsh.

However, once you’ve arrived, getting around the area without a car can be a bit tricky. Despite the fact that public transport is available, buses have limited schedules, although they are the best and the only way to get from one village to another.

If you can, rental cars are also available and would give you more convenience getting around, but expect traffic congestion during the warmer, peak-season months.

Houses alongside the river Eye in Lower Slaughter
Cottages in the idyllic and ever popular Lower Slaughter

For those travelling in a short period, be wary of tour operators offering stops in too many places in a single day.

A full-day tour with promises of trips along Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxford means shorter stops and seeing the majority of the Cotswolds villages from a bus window.

Things to Do in the Cotswolds

Visit the best towns in Cotswolds

Check out movie sets in Lacock

For those film buffs out there, you might want to include this gorgeous village of Lacock in your itinerary.

It is famous for being the set location of classic movies and TV series, ranging from BBC’s Pride and Prejudice to Downton Abbey, Fantastic Beasts, and of course, Harry Potter.

Lacock boasts a romantic, old English feels and stunning Georgian villages—the reason that Hollywood prefers this place. Check out two of the village’s loveliest places—the wonderful Bowood House and Lacock Abbey.

Visit England’s prettiest village—Castle Combe

Lacock is not the only village in Cotswolds famous for being on Hollywood’s list of favourite movie sets.

Castle Combe is an absolute gem. Movies like Warhorse, Doctor Doolittle, and Stardust were all shot here.

With its marvellous stone houses and bridges lining meandering streets, this is probably the quaintest place in all of the Cotswolds. Which is saying something given the ample competition for this title.

There are just so many things you can do in the region, and it would be no surprise if you keep coming back for more.

If you want to learn more about the culture and rich history of the Cotswolds, get in touch with us today!

3 Alternative Ways to Travel to the Cotswolds

St James' Church in Chipping Campden

The Cotswolds – fantastic views, endless displays of culture, and rich history, a place that has established itself as one of the must-visit locations for travellers visiting the UK.

Regardless of whether you’re a nature lover, or someone who’s looking to explore the parts of the UK further afield than just London for the first time, this is an area that you should not miss.

A view along the river Eye in Lower Slaughter, in winter
Lower Slaughter is one of the many beautiful villages in the Cotswolds

As amazing as it may be to travel to the wonderful area of the Cotswolds, whether for your first visit or a returning trip, it’s worth noting that going by car isn’t always the optimal choice.

Anyone who has visited during the summer months, or who lives locally and is merely trying to go about their daily business, will know that the roads struggle with the high volume of traffic.

Many of the roads in the smaller towns and villages were never intended to cope with the volume of modern day traffic and, sadly the UK’s traffic situation is only getting worse.

This begs the question: are there any other ways to reach the Cotswolds from starting points around the UK?

Yes, absolutely!

If you want to approach your next trip to the Cotswolds differently, by leaving the car at home and going for something more exciting, or just different, here are three other ways you could potentially reach the area:

1. By train

For travellers who fancy a quick and scenic journey

The romance of travelling by train might not be quite what it was in the golden age of steam.

However, when compared to most other ways to get to the Cotswolds, taking the train has been proven to be the fastest and easiest method available (although with the ever increasing cost of rail fairs, certainly not the cheapest).

This makes it perfect for first-timers and impatient travellers who can’t wait to get to the area, and for whom budget is less of a concern.

Travelling by rail to the Cotswolds makes for a far less stressful and generally much quicker journey than driving, as you essentially skip the entire experience of being stuck in frustrating holiday traffic and wasting your time, energy, and fuel in the process.

If you’re looking to travel to the area by train, there are a certain number of towns and villages that have stations, either on the main lines, or ones that can be reached by connecting services, including but not limited to Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, and Bath.

For more information on the train stations you can use visit https://www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/visiting-and-exploring/cotswolds-train-station/

Be prepared to have to change trains, depending on your ultimate destination.

Try this handy travel planner to explore different options to get to the area:

You will also still need to seek alternative means of travel locally once you arrive (maybe by horseback?)  at your destination.

2. By bus

For travellers who are looking for a cheaper way to get to the area

Another quick and convenient way to reach the wonderful Cotswolds area is taking a direct bus from various further flung regions of the UK.

While it may not necessarily be as fast as taking a train, going by bus to the Cotswolds is still a great, cost-effective, and comfortable option that’s perfect if you’re looking to save a few £s and relax, without the stress of driving yourself.

Before you head out and travel to the Cotswolds by bus, however, it is worth noting that you’ll need to be a bit prepared and do the necessary research on which stations and price points are most applicable to your needs and budget. Aside from the element of preparation, another important reason you should do the necessary research is that buses going to the Cotswolds are not necessarily available all the time as they don’t run frequently.

(A piece of advice: If you’re keen on travelling to the Cotswolds by bus, make sure that you avoid making the trip on public holidays and Sundays to ensure that you don’t end up running late!)

3. By foot

For travellers who trust their feet and want to lower their carbon footprint

This one might come as a bit of a surprise but given that the Cotswolds are England’s walking and exploring capital, why not set off on foot?

Admittedly, this is not the option to go for if you have limited time.

You will also need to be in reasonably good shape, with a sturdy pair of walking boots but what better way to explore an area famed for its walking routes?

Although it may not nearly be as quick as taking the train or as comfortable as taking the bus (possibly depends on the bus), travelling to the Cotswolds by foot is an absolute treat worth considering because of all the available routes that you can take.

For example, the Great West Way route could take you all the way from London to Bath. The Cotswolds Way is a little over 100 miles of walking route starting (or ending) in Bath and stretching up through the Cotswolds escarpment as far as Chipping Campden.

St James' Church in Chipping Campden
St James’ Church in Chipping Campden

What this approach lacks in comfort and speed it more than makes up for in experiences.

Making the journey on foot affords travellers the time to take in the views on trips through villages and other paths in the region that might otherwise be missed.

You’ll understand why the region is an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty.’

In Summary

If life is about the journey, not the destination, then perhaps the same could be said of travelling to the Cotswolds. This is especially true if you choose a more intriguing and less direct way to get to the area.

By following the tips listed in this article, you can bring yourself to the Cotswolds in more ways than one—exciting!

Unique Homestays Near Cheltenham Festival 2020

Midsummer Wood indoor swimming pool

One of the UK’s biggest festivals is fast approaching.

For those of you not yet decided on where to retreat to after a day of races and entertainment at Cheltenham Festival, you’re in luck.

We got Unique Homestays to round up their collection of hand-picked private homestays nearby. You can thank us later.

From a stylish farmhouse sleeping up to 18, to an enchanted thatched cottage, there are options to suit all who covet luxury, style and comfort.

All images supplied by and copyright of Unique Homestays.

Anthology Farm

Whittington | 6 miles away | Sleeps 18

Anthology Farm dining room
Unique Homestays, Interiors by Run For The Hills

Resurrected from 18th century barns, this rustic-luxe homestay welcomes large groups with nine sumptuous bedrooms in which to recoup after a day’s sporting antics. Welcome mornings with a wander around the 500 acres of surrounding farmland, or a rejuvenating dip in the indoor swimming pool, and spend evenings hunkered down in the cinema room.

View more details or book

The Find

Cranham | 10 miles away | Sleeps 12

The Find

For lovers of modern architecture and simple design, this Cotswolds cottage shows how old and new can work in perfect synergy. Gather together by the fire in the contemporary living area and hire a private chef if you want every whim catered for, promising outstanding dishes awaiting your return.

View more details or book

Pollyanna

Birlingham | 23 miles away | Sleeps 6

Pollyanna living room

Brimming with olde-worlde charm, this thatched cottage offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of festival life, so you’re ready to do it all again the next day. Think roll-top bubble baths and lazy mornings in the garden…

View more details or book

Midsummer Wood

Bourton-On-The-Water | 16 miles | Sleeps 8

Midsummer Wood indoor swimming pool

This fairy-tale mill house, filled to the brim with charm and antiques, is sure to rekindle childhood fantasies, leaving all grown-up responsibilities at the gate. Stroll through the 11 acres of eden-esque grounds and when the weather turns, the indoor swimming pool offers a tropical paradise.  

View more details or book

Filly Island

Filly Island

South Cerney | 23 miles away | Sleeps 2

For couples in search of a private haven, this luxury cottage is accessed only by a quaint humpback bridge and surrounded by verdant greenery. Avid walkers might be tempted to extend their visit after the festival to explore the nearby picturesque villages via the Cotswolds Way.

View more details or book

The Flower Press

Bibury | 22 miles away | Sleeps 4

The Flower Press living room

This charming creeper-clad cottage is set in the quintessential village of Bibury, adorned with elegant furnishings and gentle tones inside, promising a peaceful space in which to unwind. Enjoy a roll top bath, crackling wood burners and a quiet garden for al fresco breakfasts.  

View more details or book

The Polo Farm

Stroud | 16 miles away | Sleeps 10

The Polo Farm contemporary living room

A polo farm turned elegant country home, this luxury retreat encourages guests to embrace the outdoors with the Cotswolds most-loved walks on its doorstep, all the while offering a welcoming space to sink into squishy sofas by the fire, G&T in hand.

View more details or book

Discover the full collection of Unique Homestays and secure your accommodation for Cheltenham Festival 2020.

Off the Beaten Track in Burford

Burford is a lovely Cotswolds wool town, but head off the pretty (and always busy!) High Street to St John’s Church for some offbeat sights and stories.

The Unwanted Tomb

Tanfield Tomb in Burford Church
The Tanfields’ tomb

Lawrence Tanfield was a politician, judge, and a highly unpopular local lord of Burford Manor because of his arrogant and mean behaviour.

When he died in 1628, both Westminster Abbey and Burford church refused to put up a memorial.

But his wife Katherine decided he should get one anyway and marched a team of workmen to the north chapel. 

The result was a huge, garish shrine depicting the Tanfields lying below six Corinthian columns surrounded by arches, obelisks and the family coat of arms.

Underneath the couple rests a skeleton carved in stone apart from one real, human thigh bone (origin unknown). 

Spirit in a Bottle

The townspeople tolerated the grand tomb (well, it was hard to shift), but burned an effigy of the unlovely twosome every year for a couple of centuries to show the hate lived on.

The vengeful ghosts of the Tanfields were said to haunt Burford by hurtling round the town in a blazing coach and a priest was hired to exorcise the town of these unwelcome visitors.

He captured their spirits in a bottle and hurled it into the nearby River Windrush. Locals were so concerned that the ghastly pair would escape if the river ran dry that they topped up the water during hot summers. 

Pioneer Playwright

Elizabeth Cary in Burford Church
Elizabeth Cary

Standing by the Tanfield tomb is a ‘weeper’ effigy of their only daughter.

Elizabeth Cary (her married name) taught herself several languages and was such an avid reader that she bribed her maid for extra candles so she could study at night, defying her mother’s instructions to get some beauty sleep.

The reading paid off: Elizabeth Cary penned the first published play by a woman, ‘The Tragedy of Mariam’, in 1613.

She also found time to produce eleven children and learn a few more languages. 

Not Civil

Scratched into the font of Burford’s church is ‘Antony Sedley 1649 prisner’: He was one of 340 Parliamentarian soldiers locked inside.

Inscription on Burford Font

The group were known as the Levellers and had demanded reforms (and pay) after the victory of their Roundhead leader Oliver Cromwell in the Civil War against the king-supporting Royalists.

Cromwell decided to teach them a lesson.

The group were ordered onto the roof of their church/prison to watch as three of their leaders being shot – the bullet marks scar the church wall. Sedley and his friends were then released.

The rebellion was over.

Three ‘A’s: Arts and Crafts, Americans and an Antique

Stained glass window designed by Christopher Whall

Other highlights in the church include a memorial with the earliest known English images of American Indians, and stained glass windows by Arts and Crafts designer Christopher Whall.

Oh and one of Britain’s oldest mechanical clocks has been ticking away here since 1685. 

… and watch out for that blazing Tanfield carriage battling through the permanent traffic jam on the High Street!

A Bit About the Author

Seaan Callery in front of Bliss Mill in Chipping Norton

Sean Callery is a Blue Badge guide for the Heart of England and the author of Offbeat Cotswolds.

His website is offbeatcotswolds.com and you can also find him on Instagram and Facebook. (Facebook.com/tourcotswolds and instagram.com/offbeatcotswolds)

Get free UK postage when ordering a copy of his book by quoting the code DC20BK.

11 Things to do near Moreton in Marsh

Row of shops in Moreton in Marsh

Looking for things to do in or around the Cotswolds town of Moreton in the Marsh?

A row of shops in Moreton in Marsh, in the winter
Not peak holiday season…

Here’s a list of places to visit, all within a 10 mile radius, closest first.

1.6 Miles- Batsford Arboretum

Batsford Arboretum is home to the country’s largest private Arboretum (a place with a lot of trees, in case you’re wondering) – a selection of trees and shrubs covering 65 acres.

As well as being able to tour the grounds, there is a visitors centre with a cafe, shop and plant centre. The Arboretum dates back to the early 17th Century and is now run by a charity known as the Batsford Trust.

It’s open every day of the year excluding, Christmas Day, from:

  • 9-5 Mon – Sat
  • 10-5 on Sundays

It’s dog friendly which is a great feature and would be sure to keep the kids amused for a day.

Prices (with donation)- £8.95 adult, £7.95 concession, £3.50 kids (ages 4 – 15), £20 family (2 adults, 2 kids).

For more information visit their website.

Tags: Dog Friendly, Good for Kids

2 Miles – Cotswold Falconry Centre

Practically next door to the Arboretum, the Cotswold Falconry centre was started in 1988 and now houses over 130 Birds of Prey.

There are daily demonstrations as well as the chance to walk through the Owl Woods which is a more natural environment to observe the Birds.

The centre is open from mid February until mid November with 3 to 4 displays a day. There are also chances to pay for extra activities and displays on the website. Dogs are not allowed at the centre.

Prices- £12 Adult, £10 Concession, £6 kids (ages 4 – 15), £30 Family

For more information visit their website.

Tags: Good for Kids

4.3 Miles – Chastleton House and Garden

Chastleton House is a 400 year old Jacobean House and Gardens, built in the 1600’s and now owned and managed by the National Trust.

It’s one of the only National Trust sites that has focused on conservation rather than restoration, which means that there has been little change to the house in modern times, giving you an unspoiled look into how the house was built and used.

You can pick up a special explorer pack for kids to keep them amused during your time touring the house and gardens. The garden features a Topiary and a Croquet area in the summer months and you can get a free guided tour of the gardens.

Opening months are March to October with a few opening weekends in December. Website says dogs allowed in fields only so it doesn’t really count as a dog friendly location.

Prices – Free for National Trust members. Non-members: House and Garden – £10.50 Adult, £5 kids, £27 Family. Garden only £4 adult, £2.50 kids, Family £10 (prices need updating for 2020).

For more information visit their website.

Tags: National Trust, Good for Kids

7.2 Miles-Broadway Tower and Country Park

Broadway Tower and Country Park consists of the 65 foot high Broadway Tower with views of over 16 counties, spanning 62 miles.

Broadway Tower on a sunny day
Broadway Tower on a sunny summer’s day

The Tower is located in a country park along the Cotswold Way and also has a Cafe as well as a Nuclear Bunker to visit.

The Tower was built in the 18th century, designed to give a dramatic outlook on a pre-medieval trading route. You can read more about Broadway Tower here.

Each floor has a different exhibition showing the history of the Tower, culminating in the roof viewing platform giving you amazing views across the landscape.

Red deer may be spotted from June onwards in the grounds of the park .

There is an on-site cafe which is dog friendly and a cold war Nuclear Bunker buried 15ft under the ground (makes sense to put a bunker underground…).

The Tower and cafe are open every day of the year, except:

  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
  • New Year’s Day.

The opening times are:

  • 9-5 for the cafe
  • 10-4 for the Tower
  • 10-4:45 for the Bunker on Weekends and Bank Holidays only.

Prices- £5 adult, £3 kids (ages 6 – 16), free under 6, £14 Family (2 adults, 2 kids). £4.50 for Bunker tours.

For more information visit their website.

Tags: Good For Kids, Dog Friendly

8.2 Miles – Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum

Cotswold Motoring Museum is situated in the picturesque village of Bourton on the Water. It’s designed to be a journey through the motorcars of the 20th Century, complete with vintage cars, classic cars, caravans and motorbikes.

Cotswolds Motor Museum
We don’t think that mini is going anywhere in a hurry…

Possibly most importantly, it’s the home of the famous Brum!

There are 7 showrooms over 7500 square foot where you can discover over 50 classic and vintage cars. The Museum is dog friendly too.

It’s open from 15th Feb until mid December and is open 10am-6m daily.

Prices- £6.25 adults, £4.50 Kids (ages 4-16), under 4’s free, £19.75 Family

Tags: Good for Kids, Dog Friendly

8.3 Miles – Bourton on the Water

Bourton on the Water is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds and is one of the most popular villages in the area.

Bourton on the Water village sign
It’s a sign…

It sits on the river Windrush and it’s main features consist of the many small bridges which cross the river in the centre of the village.

Bourton is buzzing with day visitors and has lots of quirky shops as well as places to eat.

Busy Bourton on the water in the summer
Buzzing Bourton

A number of the other tourist attractions in this list are located here including the Cotswold Motoring Museum, Model Village and Railway and the Birdland Park and Gardens.

Mini version of the Cotswolds Motor Museum at the Bourton on the Water model village
Not the full size Cotswolds Motor Museum

Price – Free (except for parking charges)

Tags: Good for Kids, Dog Friendly

8.3 Miles – Bourton Model Village

The Bourton Model Village is a replica of Bourton on the Water which is built at a one ninth scale of the actual Village.

Bourton on the water model village
Normal size people, tiny houses…

The Model Village was opened in 1937 and took 5 years to build. The Village is famous for it’s mini Bonsai style tree’s which are pruned to replicate the scale of the model. See if you can spot the models village’s model village. It a gets a bit Inception like…

The min version of the model village, inside the model village in Bourton on the water
Don’t say that we didn’t warn you…

It aims to be open all year (weather dependant) but dogs are not allowed and there are restrictions on pushchairs and wheelchairs due to the size of the replica paths and roads.

The Village is child friendly, although given the strict instruction for what kids can and can’t go near, we wouldn’t want to be the ones responsible for the little one breaking a tiny house!

Price- £3.60 Adult, £2.80 Kids over 3, £3.20 over 60

8.4 Miles – Birdland Park and Gardens

Birdland itself is set in 9 acres of garden and woodland surrounding the River Windrush in the centre of Bourton on the Water.

It houses over 130 species of birds including Flamingos, pelicans, cranes, storks, parrots, owls, pheasants, hornbills and touracos among others.

There is an on site Cafe, a Jurassic Area complete with hidden dinosaur models and 2 acres set aside as a nature reserve where people have observed rabbits, foxes and deer as well as other animals. There is a small outdoor and indoor kids play area.

Birdland is open daily from 10am, closing only on Christmas day with varied closing times depending on time of year.

Surprisingly, compared to most other places dealing with animals, dogs are also allowed.

Prices- £10.95 Adult, £9.95 Concession, £7.95 Kids (ages 3-15), various family tickets available.

For more information visit their website.

Tags: Good for Kids, Dog Friendly

8.5 Miles – The Lido, Chipping Norton

Chippy Lido as it’s affectionately known in the area consists of a 25m heated pool, toddler pool with slide and cafe.

The Lido is run by a charity and relies on donations and fees to stay open. The pool is heated with solar power (as in actually heated, not just warmed by the sun).

Opening months are April to September.

This attraction has the smallest open season, but if you’re away in the summer months, it’s always good to know of a good local outdoor pool.

There is also an event at the end of each season where they have an annual dog swim where owners can take their dogs into the pool for a swim if you fancy it!

To learn more about Chipping Norton (Chippy), read our blog post on the town.

Prices (peak times)- not currently available.

For more information, visit their website.

Tags: Good for Kids

9.8 Miles – Broadway

The village of Broadway is known as the Jewel of the Cotswolds.

Nestled at the foot of Fish Hill and overlooked by Broadway Tower, this popular village attracts visitors throughout the year.

Houses in Broadway, Costwolds lit up in the afternoon sun
Broadway’s famous honey coloured houses

It boasts numerous independent shops, an art gallery and museums among its attractions.

Read more about Broadway here.

Open all year round, entry is free (apart from the cost of parking) and it’s exceptionally dog friendly.

Tags: Dog friendly, good for kids

10 Miles – Cotswold Farm Park

Cotswold Farm Park is run farmer Adam Henson of BBC Countryfile fame.

The farm houses over 50 breeds of rare farm animals and also has large kids play areas, farm shop, cafe, bistro.

Other attractions include Wildlife Walk, farming demonstrations, meet the animals, farm safari, lambing (seasonal), feeding , maze, bouncy pillow, rare breeds through history, its own campsite.

Open early Feb to end October

For more information, visit their website.

Prices- £13.50 Adult, Senior £12.60, £12.60 Kids (4-15), £9 toddler (2-3).

Chipping Norton: The Town that Moved Up Hill

Chipping Norton Town Hall

Chipping Norton, or Chippy, as locals call it, is one of the highest towns in the Cotswolds, but this was not always the case.

The town began down in the valley of the River Glyme – the earthworks of the Norman castle, built to keep the locals in order are still there. But the local lord William FitzAlan had ambitions to make the town a major centre, so he built a huge market square (bigger than the area it covers today) up the hill.

Alley way in Chipping Norton

Houses were built to surround the market space, and the long, narrow alleyways behind them remain, showing that these were burgage plots: long, narrow sites that gave every shop a window onto the High Street – this is the origin of the phrase ‘window shopping’.

The medieval buildings around the market place benefited from a makeover after 1704. The construction of Blenheim Palace down the road made the ornate baroque style fashionable, and lots of Chippy’s main buildings got a makeover with smooth-stoned, symmetrical frontages.

Bliss Mill

However, cattle, horses and sheep were still sold here, as well as wool, which led to the development of the town’s weaving industry and the building of the iconic Bliss Mill. The Bliss family played a huge role in the development of Chipping Norton, before they hit hard times and sold up in 1895.

The new management pushed down wages and resisted the rise of the workers’ rights movement. This led to a strike that is famous in trade union history, and one of Chippy’s alarmingly regular ‘riots’ as 50 policeman were needed to hold back picketing strikers when their fellow workers headed to do a shift at the mill.

Bliss Mill, Chipping Norton
Bliss Mill dates from 1872. Its distinctive chimney has been likened to a sink plunger!

Town Hall

Another uprising led to the 1845 trial of a policeman called Charles Knott who was over eager in calming down a belligerent pub customer, bashing him over the head with his cosh. The poor chap was flung into a cell underneath the new Town Hall. When they opened up the next day, he was dead. The policeman was found ‘not guilty’ because his victim, rather conveniently, was found to have an unusually thin skull.

Chipping Norton Town Hall
Mr Slatter, the pub brawler who got bashed over the head, was kept in the cells here in the newly built Town Hall.

Rock ‘n’ Roll

There were 20 coach houses in Chippy at one time, giving customers and horses a welcome respite from the bumpy roads. When rail took over, many continued as pubs, and legendary drummer with The Who, Keith Moon, briefly owned one here from 1970

Many of his mates from the music industry would have been the other side of the bar, for the town had a recording studio from 1972 to 1997. Its walls echoes to hits such as ‘Bye Bye Baby’ from the Bay City Rollers, ‘Too Shy’ by Kajagoogoo, and ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty.
Today the town is a hidden gem in the Cotswolds, with independent shops, a wonderful ‘Woolgothic’ church, and a terrific theatre that lives in an old Salvation Army chapel and puts on one of the top pantomimes in the country every year.
… Oh yes it does!

A bit about the author

Sean Callery runs regular walking tours of Chipping Norton through his Offbeat Cotswolds guiding operation ( www.offbeatcotswolds.com ).
He is a Blue Badge Guide for the Heart of England.