Moreton-in-Marsh is a market town located in Gloucestershire in the northern Cotswolds situated on the Roman Fosse Way. There still is a Tuesday market which consists of approximately 200 stalls. The town has been a traveller's stop-over for at least 1700 years and was used as a coaching station; a notable visitor was King Charles l who is said to have stayed at The White Hart Hotel in 1644. A large number of the old buildings along the High Street date from the 17th and 18th centuries.
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Stow-on-the-Wold is a small market town and was originally known as Stow St. Edward or Edwardstow after the town's patron saint Edward. The town was known within the area for its contribution to the wool industry and was famous for its huge annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time. Today the town Stow is an important shopping centre and has many fine Antique shops, Art galleries and Cotswold Gift and Craft shops. Must see sights include: the Marketplace, the Church of Saint Edward and Saint Edwards Hall.
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Coleford lies on the Western side of the Forest of Dean and is a market town that which can trace its history back to 1275, the town was granted its Market Charter in 1661 and 50 years later was a thriving community of 160 houses. Coleford is also the administrative centre of the Forest of Dean.
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The ruins of Sudeley were left untouched for nearly 200 years during the time when ‘romantic ruins’ were in vogue. King George III was one of the reported visitors. But the discovery of Catherine Parr’s grave in 1782 started to change things – although it took another 30 years before she was reinterred and moved to St Mary’s Chapel, which was rebuilt in the late 19th century and an appropriate altar-tomb erected as part of a major restoration of the castle.
Sudeley Castle today is owned by Lady Ashcombe and her two adult children. Large parts of the castle remain private except for mid-week guided tours.
The famed gardens, ruins, St Mary’s Chapel, and the original 15th century west wing of the Castle – formerly the kitchen range, then the stables and coach house and finally the banqueting hall – featuring exhibitions illustrating the history of Sudeley and its owners are open to the public (including Parr jewels, manuscripts, lace etc).
Opening times: daily, 10.30am-5pm, March-October: guided tours of apartments Tue-Thur, 11am, 1pm, 3pm
Admission Fees: £7.20/ £6.20 (concessions)/ £4.20 (children)/ £20.80 (family)
Katherine Parr died 2 days after giving birth to a daughter and she was buried in the grounds of Sudeley. Thomas Seymour was executed only a year or so later, driven by greed and power to unseat his older brother, Edward, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector – King Edward VI was still a minor.
Seymour’s estates were seized (including all the wealth of Catherine Parr as Dowager Queen) by the crown. Sudeley was passed on to Catherine’s brother, William Parr. Not for long though – he became involved in the attempt to put Lady Jane Grey onto the throne following Edward VI’s sudden death. Parr was stripped of his titles and sentenced to death (although the execution was not carried through).
On ascending the throne following her brother Edward’s death, Queen Mary I gave Sudeley to John Brydges, 1st Baron Chandos in 1554. In spite of his prominence in Mary’s court, he retained Sudeley throughout Elizabeth I’s reign and the queen was a guest on 3 separate occasions.
So Sudeley entered into a period of relative calm until the English Civil War when the castle and St Mary’s Chapel were left in partial ruins. Charles I found refuge in the castle when his nephew Prince Rupert established a royalist HQ in the grounds. Enter Cromwell who laid siege.
A major tourist attraction in the Cotswolds, the now privately-owned Sudeley Castle is known as the final resting place of Katherine Parr, the 6th and final wife of Henry VIII.
The castle has a long history and rich associations with English monarchy...
Established in the 10th century, the present day castle was moved to its current site in 1442.
In 1469, it was confiscated from the 1st Baron Sudeley by King Edward IV and presented to his brother, later King Richard III. The unpopular Richard (responsible for the death of the Princes in the Tower and the heir of Edward IV) reigned for only 2 years – his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field led to the Tudors taking the throne: Sudeley Castle was presented, by the new King Henry VII, to his uncle, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford.
A long history of Sudeley Castle being presented to court favourites by the reigning monarch began. Henry VIII visited with Ann Boleyn: Edward VI (son of Henry VIII and Katherine Seymour) gave it to his uncle, Thomas Seymour, married at the time to Edward’s stepmother, Catherine Parr (Henry VIII’s last wife).
It was round this time that Sudeley’s most auspicious history was centred, with the castle extended and rebuilt in keeping with the position of Katherine Parr, Dowager Queen. She had also been instrumental in mending relations between Henry and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, with Elizabeth living in the castle for a time. As a ward of Seymour, Lady Jane Grey also lived in the castle.
(continued as a separate tip)
A real ‘working’ town, we loved Winchcombe. An incredibly long high street and seemingly not overly affected by tourism, it is unusual in that there is no dominance of limestone buildings. The white and black of Tudor homes compete with the limestone: 19th century renovations and rebuilds cover Elizabethan originals. Everyday shops such as the traditional butcher and the grocer can be found here.
This is surprising considering the village was one of the principle towns of the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, is the location of one of the Cotswolds major attractions – Sudeley Castle (see separate tip) – as well a former ecclesiastical centre, with Winchcombe Abbey (now vanished except for a few remains that have been incorporated into a private home) and the nearby Hailes Abbey (of which little remains).
It’s also the centre of a number of Cotswolds walks and nearby Humblebee Woods is believed to be one of the inspirations for Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’.
Sometimes referred to as the ‘jewel of the Cotswolds, Broadway is located on the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border. In spite of it being at the northern tip of the region, the stunning honey-coloured limestone is still dominant as the principle building material.
Initially, the village developed as a busy coaching stop on the route between Worcester and London and much of Broadway today dates from the 16th century – especially the beautiful High Street. Archaeological evidence suggests there has been a settlement here since the Mesolithic period, making Broadway one of the first partially settled sites in Britain.
In the late 19th century it became the home of a number of artists, including composers Elgar and Vaughan Williams, William Morris, authors J.M.Barrie, American painter John Singer Sargent. American actress Mary Anderson moved to Broadway after her early retirement from the stage and it is believed she is the model for Lucia from E.F.Benson’s series of books, ‘Mapp and Lucia’. Lucia lived in the fictional village of Riseholme, believed to be modelled on Broadway.
It has a more genteel feel to it than many of similar sized villages and towns of the Cotswolds – in part to do with the fact that it did not hold a market charter from medieval times. As a result it did not become a market town servicing the immediate surrounds.
Tourism is its main focus and the village is a centre for arts and antiques. Coaching inns, hotels, pubs, restaurants, antique shops, galleries, tearooms all line the main street.
It’s also overlooked by Broadway Hill, the highest point of the northern Cotswolds at 1024 feet (312 metres) above sea-level with the folly Broadway Tower sitting atop.
Up above the quaint Cotswolds village of Broadway which nestles below the scarp slope of the hills is a tower built when it was fashionable for 18th century landowners to have a Folly. It has 4 storeys including the top which gives you a terrific view if the weather is being kind. We could see the skyscrapers of the Birmingham skyline about 30 miles away but of much more interest were the more local hills of Cleeve and Clent.
There is a charge of £3.50 per adult which may seem steep but on your way up to the top there are some very interesting displays about the history of the tower and the various notaries who enjoyed visiting the place. William Morris was particularly fond of the tower and much attention is paid to him in the displays along with his contemporary artistic associates of the pre-Raphaelite movement such Rosetti and Millais .
We thought the cost was worth it particularly as the view was fantastic and the exhibits very interesting.
There is a gift shop area by the entrance and they do some coffee out of a machine. We wanted something to eat as well so moved on to the small café a short walk away. Their fruit cake was very good.
With the River Eye running through the centre of the village and the impressive slim spired church (which dates from the 19th century), Lower Slaughter is the more popular of the Slaughters in terms of tourism. (It can be very hard to find a parking spot on a busy summer weekend).
It’s known for its unspoilt limestone cottages and the converted mill that sits at the far end of the village. Built in the 19th century and retaining its original water wheel, the mill is unusual in that red brick is used in part of the structure – rare for the Cotswolds. It was last used commercially in 1958 and had been converted into a museum, gift shop full of unusual items and tearooms.
Upper (and Lower - see separate tip) Slaughter has nothing to do with mass genocide. Unlike a school trip where a school teacher informed us the name derived from a mass battle during the English Civil War between Royalists and Roundheads, the name 'slaughter' here comes from the old English word 'slohtre' which means muddy place.
The River Eye flows through this tiny village and it was the place we escaped to following the disappointment of Bourton. At a mile north west, it was an easy escape.
Upper Slaughter is the lesser of the two Slaughters in terms of tourism (it's that much further than Lower from the main road), but to my mind is far the more picturesque of the two. There's essentially a few homes, a lovely Norman style church dating from the 12th century and a small village square where the cottages were reconstructed in 1906 by renowned architect Sir Edward Luytens. The former Manor House on the edge of town has been converted into a luxury hotel. (Lords of the Manor)
Known as the Venice of the Cotswolds due to the number of bridges crossing the River Windrush in the centre of town, Bourton-on-the-Water is the most visited town in the Cotswolds. It has a number of tourist attractions, including the model village, Birdland Park and Gardens, Cotswold Motoring Museum and the Dragonfly Maze.
But we found it pretty horrible and left quickly after checking out the Church of St Lawrence. Having visited a number of pretty villages, rolling countryside, Bourton was a shock to the system. A large coach park was the first indication that this was not what we had become used to. And whilst it was not crowded, the openness of the main street, numerous cafes with plastic chairs and coffee served out of paper cups was definitely not what we wanted. So a quick look at the church (it was deserted and is unique in that it has a domed steeple) and the discovery of a little patisserie opposite the church (where, ironically, we had the best coffee) we left…
Built in 1634, Lodge Park is unique in that it is the only 17th century grandstand surviving in England, built for gambling and banqueting and overlooking the deer course and park of the Sherborne Estate.
For the uninitiated, including myself until we visited – a park containing the deer, a mile-long walled enclosure for the chase, and, overlooking the finish, a grandstand. Guests were entertained in the first floor Grand Room and from the flat roof or the terrace above the portico, they could observe the finish of the chase.
It was modified into a residence in the 19th century, made into a row of cottages (gutting part of the interior) and then restored to a single dwelling from 1896. More alterations were made in the 1930s and 1950s before passing into the hands of the National Trust in 1982. As a result, it was restored close to its original form.
Sherborne Estate is a parkland rich in wildlife, with many walks open to the public throughout the year.
Lodge Park: Open Fri-Sun, 11am-4pm (Mar-Oct): Sat-Sun, 11am-4pm (Nov-Feb).
Admission: £5/£2.80 (child)/£12.50(family). Sherborne Estate is free.
One of the most photographed spots in the Cotswolds: Arlington Row. And, located as it is on the other side of the River Coln, it’s officially in the village of Arlington. A couple of local women informed me of this, fully aware that it’s accredited to Bibury. They didn’t seem to be overly concerned as the two villages are essentially one.
The row of stunning cottages was originally built to house sheep, but it was converted in the 1600s to provide homes for weavers who supplied cloth to Arlington Mill, a couple of hundred metres along the river.
Henry Ford apparently tried to buy the entire terrace and have it dismantled and shipped to the US. He failed, settling instead for a single cottage nearby.
Walking up the hill beyond the terrace will take you further into Arlington – a circular walk will bring you past Arlington Mill (now a small museum), the trout farm and, crossing the bridge, back into Bibury at The Swan.
William Morris called Bibury ‘the most beautiful village in England’.
With part of its parish church dating from Saxon times (with later additions), the River Coln flowing alongside the main street, the honey-coloured limestone cottages, the grandiose Bibury Court (a Jacobean mansion dated from the late 16th century but which was converted into a hotel in the 1970s) and the picture-perfect Arlington Row (see next tip), Blake’s comment is not surprising.
Went on Sunday. The grounds are magnificent. The hotel tired and decorated in a terrible passe bad...more
I use the gym at this hotel, it is a very nice and clean hotel. It has a gym, swimming pool, sauna,...more
Willersey Hill, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7LF, United Kingdom
Good for: Solo