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 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.
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 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 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.
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 is a historic market town that also is a great stop. We were very impressed with the elegant church!
We stayed for 3 nights in the delightful town of Stow-on-the-Wold. More to come on that in our next blog.
Bev & Harvey