Tetbury - Cotswold country
"In the path of royalty"
There was a time when Tetbury was a place where you might meet Princess Di, buying sweets for William and Harry in a sweet shop, bringing in a bag of toys for them while she did some shopping.
Tetbury's reputation was that of being the place where the Prince and Princess of Wales lived, at Highgrove House a mile or so south of the town. The tragedy that touched the world changed all that and you won't be seeing Di there any more, but Prince Charles still spends time at Highgrove, and some shops in Tetbury still carry the traditional three-feathered crest of the Prince of Wales.
I, for one, couldn't help feeling her presence and being overcome a little at such a waste of a caring human life.
The aura of class and money which hangs around Tetbury however, is not a recent thing - this is hunting country, home to the Beaufort Hunt.
You might choose to take in a few chukkas of polo at nearby Westonbirt, almost next door to Highgrove.
Westonbirt is the home also of the National Aboretum and, should you be there in autumn, you will be among thousands.
A few miles to the south is the vast country estate of Badminton, home to the Duke of Beaufort and venue for the world-famous Badminton Horse Trials each April or May. Princess Anne's country home is about three miles to the north at Gatcombe Park. Even in the last century Tetbury was home to the hunting set, and large balls were held in the Snooty Fox Hotel in the centre of the town.
Tetbury is an architectural gem, designated an outstanding conservation area in 1971. The central part of the town is largely unchanged since the 16th. and 17th. centuries, and parts have clear links to medieval times. The rambling street plan adds interest, as does the steep drop down to the bottom of the Chipping Steps, so that the town seems larger and more intricate than it is.
The oldest part of the town is close to the site of an Iron Age settlement a small distance to the south of St. Mary's church. To the east of the Church is the Green, a tiny triangle of grass at the edge of a steep hill dropping away from the town towards Malmesbury. This little piece of grass is the probable site of an original Anglo-Saxon settlement first recorded in 681 as Tette's minster. Tette was probably the sister of King Ine of Wessex and went on to become abbess of a famous double monastery for monks and nuns at Wimbourne