Nestled amidst the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, Northleach (note that it’s not North Leach), is a charming market town that’s worth visiting. Engulfed in the glory of the Middle Ages, the town showcases a rich history attached to the wool trade. The high street, beautifully decked with Cotswold window-fronted houses, echoes the splendour of the bygone era.
Northleach, Gloucestershire | Historic Gloucestershire Guide
The church of St Peter and St Paul
Dominating the town’s skyline from north, is the Church of St Peter and St Paul. It’s a testament to the wealth Northleach accumulated through the wool trade. The church, often referred to as the ‘Cathedral of the Cotswolds’, exhibits a magnificent south porch and a large Cotswold window. Inside, you’ll find an imposing chancel arch and a high altar, which together create an ambience of tranquillity.
The Church of St Peter and St Paul isn’t just for those with an interest in religious history; the many gardens and fine views from its churchyard are a must-see. Admire the beauty of Northleach from this vantage point and find yourself falling in love with this small town.
A Stroll Through Market Square
Take a walk through the historic market square, the bustling heart of Northleach. With a weekly market held every last Saturday, this site remains a hive of activity. The town has seen the charter fair, known as the annual fair, flourish since the time of Thomas Fortey, bringing together local sellers and buyers. This tradition is upheld by the high bailiff and the court leet, which brings a sense of continuity and community to Northleach.
Visit the Old Prison
On the north side of the town, you’ll come across the Old Prison, a prominent site with original prison cells that have been preserved for tourists. Besides, the prison houses the Lloyd Baker Wagon Collection, showcasing the history of mechanical music. The café located within the prison premises is an ideal place for a quick brunch, serving up artisan coffees and home made cakes, made from locally sourced ingredients.
Indulging in Local Flavours
Northleach boasts a variety of food options for everyone. The Wheatsheaf Inn and Sherborne Arms are well-known for their lunchtime specials, with their locally-sourced ingredients lending an authentic taste to the dishes. Not to mention, their cafe and extensive range of artisan coffees paired with homemade cakes offer a unique brunch experience.
Northleach’s Role in “This Country”
Northleach had its moment of fame when it served as a filming location for the popular series “This Country”. Fans can even visit the iconic Kerry’s house, adding an exciting layer to the town’s allure.
However, for those wondering where the train station in “This Country” is, it’s worth mentioning that the scenes involving public transport were shot elsewhere. Despite the absence of a train station in Northleach, the town remains well-connected by other means of transport.
The Stowell Park Estate
A short distance from Northleach, one finds a privately owned, historic house boasting two large walled gardens. This attraction, complete with beautiful lawned terraces and a long rose pergola, is home to a diverse collection of farm animals. Visitors also get to see a cat playing in the fully enclosed garden, adding to the charm of the estate.
Northleach’s Enchanting Gardens
The gardens of Northleach are a sight to behold. Whether you are an ardent gardener or simply enjoy the allure of nature, Northleach’s walled gardens provide a soothing retreat. Apart from the Stowell Park Estate, there are other private houses in Northleach with beautiful lawned terraces and two large walled gardens too, a delight for all visitors.
The gardens in the town aren’t just for show – they’re also an important part of the local ecosystem. The wide variety of local flora, the buzzing of bees, and the occasional cat playing make these gardens a haven for wildlife.
The Legacy of the Wool Trade
Northleach’s wealth and development during the Middle Ages can be attributed to its prosperous wool trade. This historical legacy is still visible in the town’s structures and culture. The burgage plots, where wool merchants used to dwell, remain a remarkable facet of Northleach’s architecture. Visit the houses of Thomas Fortey and John Fortey, the prominent wool merchants, to get a glimpse of the town’s history.
A Foodie’s Delight
Northleach is a paradise for food enthusiasts. The town is full of cafes offering a wide range of food options made with locally sourced ingredients. Visit any cafe in the main market place to try out their brunch classics, which are local favourites. These cafes pride themselves on their homemade cakes, which are simply delightful.
And it’s not just about brunch. The town offers plenty of options for lunch and dinner as well. The high street is lined with restaurants serving everything from traditional English fare to international cuisine. They cater to all tastes, ensuring that nobody goes hungry in Northleach.
A Closer Look at “This Country”
Northleach’s role as a filming location in “This Country” has brought the town to the attention of a broader audience. While Kerry’s house is a popular spot among fans, there are other filming locations spread throughout the town that are worth exploring. This provides a unique opportunity to relive some of your favourite moments from the series.
Events and Celebrations
Northleach is a town that knows how to celebrate. The annual fair held on the market square is a big event in the town’s calendar. The last Saturday of each month is another day of celebration, with a vibrant market setting up on the square. These events are a great opportunity to mingle with the locals and understand the community spirit of Northleach.
Exploring the Cotswolds
While Northleach itself is a charming destination, its location within the Cotswolds offers visitors a chance to explore other attractions in the region. Trips to nearby market towns like Moreton-in-Marsh, Bourton on the Water, and Stow on the Wold can be easily organised. Each of these towns has its unique charm, and a visit to them can make your trip to Northleach even more rewarding.
You can find plenty of activities to do in the surrounding areas as well.
Exploring Beyond Northleach
Located just off the Fosse Way, Northleach offers easy access to other charming Cotswold towns and attractions like Bourton on the Water and Stow on the Wold. Those inclined towards history can head towards Sudeley Castle or Gloucester to dig deeper into England’s past. Nature lovers can explore the serenity of the Coln Valley or take a leisurely stroll along the river.
Visiting the Gloucestershire Archives
For history buffs, a trip to the Gloucestershire Archives is a must. Here you’ll find records about Northleach’s history, including documents on notable locals such as William Midwinter. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to grips with the past of this fascinating Cotswolds town.
An easy drive away from Northleach, Moreton-in-Marsh is another Cotswold market town well worth a visit. Known for its annual fair and charter fair, it’s a place that echoes Northleach’s history while offering its unique charm.
Northleach, a small town in the heart of the Cotswolds, is an ideal place to get away from the rush of big city life. With its historic houses, church, market square, and other attractions, there’s plenty to see and do.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a fan of “This Country”, a foodie, or someone simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Northleach has something for you. Discover this charming market town and let the beauty of the Cotswolds enchant you.