Glorious Gloucestershire

Beautiful villages, a Regency spa town, an ancient city, historic docklands, and some of England’s most picturesque open countryside are yours to discover and explore when you visit Gloucestershire.

Comprising part of the Cotswold Hills, the River Severn fertile valley, and the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire offers some of the most outstanding scenery anywhere in Britain.

Gloucestershire’s Countryside

On a clear day, one of the finest views across the spa town of Cheltenham and out toward the Malvern Hills beyond can be enjoyed from the top of Leckhampton Hill.

Gloucestershire’s countryside is gorgeous.

Cheltenham and the Malverns from Leckhampton Hill. Credit Nilfanion
Cheltenham and the Malverns from Leckhampton Hill. Credit Nilfanion
Cotswold countryside at Snowshill, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Cotswold countryside at Snowshill, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Winding through the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the River Wye is the fifth-longest river in the United Kingdom and forms part of the border between England and Wales.

The view north towards Ross-on-Wye from Symonds Yat Rock, a popular tourist destination in the Forest of Dean. Credit Robert Hindle
The view north towards Ross-on-Wye from Symonds Yat Rock, a popular tourist destination in the Forest of Dean. Credit Robert Hindle

Above a disused quarry in Leckhampton, a peculiar-shaped limestone rock formation known as “the Devil’s Chimney” rises from the ground.

Legend has it that the Devil would sit atop Leckhampton Hill and hurl stones at Sunday churchgoers, but that God turned the stones back, driving the Devil underground and trapping him there forever.

Devil's Chimney, Leckhampton Hill, Gloucestershire. Credit Wilson44691
Devil’s Chimney, Leckhampton Hill, Gloucestershire. Credit Wilson44691

Reserved for royal hunting by Anglo-Saxon kings, the Forest of Dean is one of the last surviving ancient woodlands in England.

Covering almost 43 square miles, the name is thought to originate from the Viking settlements, referring to the region as “Danubia” meaning “land of Danes”.

Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Rising in the Cotswold Hills of Gloucestershire, the River Churn is the first tributary of the famous River Thames.

Much of the catchment basin of the River Churn is known to have been an important area of Roman settlement in the second to fourth centuries AD.

River Churn in Cirencester. Credit Mark Philpott, flickr
River Churn in Cirencester. Credit Mark Philpott, flickr
A walk from Coln St Aldwyns to Bibury. Credit Jon Mountjoy, flickr
A walk from Coln St Aldwyns to Bibury. Credit Jon Mountjoy, flickr

Gloucestershire’s Roman Beginnings

Founded in AD 97 by the Romans under Emperor Nerva, Gloucester is the county city of Gloucestershire.

Derived from the Roman name “Glevum” or “Glouvia” and the Anglo-Saxon word “ceaster” meaning fort, Gloucester was once a Roman colony for retired legionaries.

Statue of Nerva in Gloucester city center. Credit Nilfanion
Statue of Nerva in Gloucester city center. Credit Nilfanion

Granted farmland and called upon as Roman auxiliaries, legionaries built luxurious villas with exquisite mosaic floors.

Gloucestershire has some of the best Roman villas in Britain.

Orpheus Roman Pavement (replica) at Woodchester, Gloucestershire. Credit Pauline and John Grimshaw, flickr
Orpheus Roman Pavement (replica) at Woodchester, Gloucestershire. Credit Pauline and John Grimshaw, flickr

Including a heated and furnished west wing containing a dining-room (triclinium) with a fine mosaic floor, as well as two separate bathing suites—one for damp-heat and one for dry-heat—Chedworth Villa was an elite dwelling and one of the largest Roman villas in Britain.

Chedworth Villa, Gloucestershire, showing system for heated floors. Credit Hartlepoolmarina2014
Chedworth Villa, Gloucestershire, showing system for heated floors. Credit Hartlepoolmarina2014

Gloucester’s Medieval Gothic Cathedral

Originating in the 7th century as a church for the abbey dedicated to Saint Peter, Gloucester Cathedral has a Norman core with a 15th-century tower rising 225ft and topped by four delicate pinnacles—a local landmark visible for miles.

The cathedral cloisters were used for corridor scenes in several Harry Potter films, whilst the crypt featured in Sherlock’s Christmas special.

Gloucester Cathedral exterior. Credit barnyz, flickr
Gloucester Cathedral exterior. Credit barnyz, flickr

At over 1000 years old, Gloucester Cathedral is the oldest building in the world to have a solar array installed to reduce energy costs.

Gloucester Cathedral as seen from the Cloister. Credit David Iliff
Gloucester Cathedral as seen from the Cloister. Credit David Iliff
The Lady Chapel of Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucestershire. Credit David Iliff
The Lady Chapel of Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucestershire. Credit David Iliff

Designed between 1351 and 1377 by Thomas de Canterbury, the cloisters at Gloucester are the earliest surviving fan vaults.

The cloister of Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucestershire. Credit David Iliff
The cloister of Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucestershire. Credit David Iliff

Gloucester’s Docklands

Victorian ships once discharged their cargoes of corn from Ireland and Europe, timber from the Baltic and North America, and wines and spirits from Portugal and France.

Transferred to narrow canal boats, the goods were carried up the River Severn and through the inland canal network to the growing industrial towns of the Midlands.

A steam crane on the railway tracks by the North Warehouse in Gloucester Docks. Credit Nilfanion
A steam crane on the railway tracks by the North Warehouse in Gloucester Docks. Credit Nilfanion
Gloucester Docks. Credit Saffron Blaze
Gloucester Docks. Credit Saffron Blaze
Gloucester Docks. Credit kennysarmy, flickr
Gloucester Docks. Credit kennysarmy, flickr
Gloucester Docks Tall Ship Festival. Credit Nilfanion
Gloucester Docks Tall Ship Festival. Credit Nilfanion

Cheltenham Spa

Meaning “health and education”, Cheltenham’s motto “Salubritas et Eruditio” helped establish the town as a health and holiday spa resort since mineral springs were discovered in 1716.

Recognizing the commercial potential of its mineral springs, Captian Henry Skillicorne was regarded as “the founder of Cheltenham as a watering place”.

Building a pump room to regulate the water flow and an elaborate well-house with ballrooms and billiard room, well-to-do Georgian society flocked to Cheltenham.

Cheltenham High Street 1825 by Isaac Cruikshank
Cheltenham High Street 1825 by Isaac Cruikshank

Known for its elegant Regency buildings, tree-lined promenades and gardens, Cheltenham has remained a popular upscale shopping and entertainment destination through the Victorian era and up to the present day.

Promenade looking towards Hight Street Cheltenham, c.1895
Promenade looking towards Hight Street Cheltenham, c.1895

Regarded by many as among the finest Regency buildings in Britain, Cheltenham’s municipal offices were constructed during the reign of King George IV (1820 – 1830).

Cheltenham’s municipal offices. Credit Saffron Blaze
Cheltenham’s municipal offices. Credit Saffron Blaze

Since 1815, horse racing has been an important sport in Cheltenham, with £6m in prize money and over 700,000 visitors each year.

Cheltenham Racecourse. Credit Carine06
Cheltenham Racecourse. Credit Carine06

Cotswold Towns and Villages

Dozens of pretty villages and towns dot the Gloucestershire landscape.

Rising from the meadows of the upper River Thames is a range of rolling hills with a grassland habitat and a beautiful honey-coloured stone used to build villages, towns, and country houses.

Chipping Campden Post Office. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Chipping Campden Post Office. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century, Chipping Campden was a rich wool centre of the Middle Ages.

“Chipping” derives from the Old English “cēping”, meaning marketplace.

Built in 1627, the arched Market Hall stands proudly at the centre of town.

Chipping Campden market. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Chipping Campden market. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
A wine merchant in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
A wine merchant in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
14th-17th century buildings in the High Street of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
14th-17th century buildings in the High Street of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk

Meaning “Farmstead on the Moor”, the delightful town of Moreton-in-Marsh has many buildings made from the local honey-colored Cotswold Stone, including several antique shops, art galleries, and hotels.

Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The Swan Inn, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
The Swan Inn, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Cotswold cottages, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Cotswold cottages, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Known for its picturesque High Street, flanked by long, wide greens with the River Windrush running through it, Bourton-on-the-Water is known locally as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”.

Footbridge over the River Windrush at the Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water. Credit Saffron Blaze
Footbridge over the River Windrush at the Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water. Credit Saffron Blaze
Bourton on the water, Gloucestershire. Credit Tanya Dedyukhina
Bourton on the water, Gloucestershire. Credit Tanya Dedyukhina
The Little Nook at Bourton on the water. Credit Tanya Dedyukhina
The Little Nook at Bourton on the water. Credit Tanya Dedyukhina
Lower Slaughter, The Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Lower Slaughter, The Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Once part of the second-largest area of a city in Roman Britain, Cirencester grew into a thriving market town in the Middle Ages, trading in wool and cloth.

Cirencester market place
Cirencester market place
Castle Street, Cirencester. Credit Jack, flickr
Castle Street, Cirencester. Credit Jack, flickr

Built in 1380 as a monastic wool store, the picturesque Arlington Row cottages were converted into weavers cottages in the 17th century and are a very popular tourist hotspot and photographers’ favorite.

Arlington Row, Bibery, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski
Arlington Row, Bibery, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski

Castles, Country Houses, and Gardens

Castle-building in Gloucestershire began after the 1066 Norman invasion, with fortified manor houses becoming more popular in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Sudeley Castle. Credit Wdejager
Sudeley Castle. Credit Wdejager

Built in the 15th century, Sudeley Castle replaced a much earlier 12th-century castle that was destroyed by King Stephen during the “Anarchy”—a civil war against his cousin Empress Matilda.

Severely damaged during the English Civil War, the current castle is the result of extensive Victorian restoration.

Sudeley Castle. Credit Jason Ballard
Sudeley Castle. Credit Jason Ballard

Dating back to the 11th century, Berkeley Castle is believed to be the scene of King Edward II’s murder.

His body is interred in a canopied shrine in Gloucester Cathedral

Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski
Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski
Berkeley Castle dining room, Gloucestershire. Credit Fiducial
Berkeley Castle dining room, Gloucestershire. Credit Fiducial

Built by Walter and Miles de Gloucester for the crown in the 11th century, St Briavels Castle was used to govern the Welsh Marches on the border of England and Wales.

Empress Matilda held the castle during the Anarchy and it later became a hunting lodge for King John and then a center for making crossbow arrows.

St Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire. Credit Thomas Tolkien
St Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire. Credit Thomas Tolkien

Hidcote Manor Garden is one of the best-known Arts and Crafts gardens in Britain.

Flourishing in Europe and North America between 1880 and 1920, Arts and Crafts was a movement of decorative and fine arts that began in Britain and advocated traditional craftsmanship of simple forms, with medieval, folk, and romantic influences.

Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Built in the 1860s in an Elizabethan style, the Victorian mansion of Westonbirt House replaced earlier buildings in the Georgian and Tudor eras.

Occupied by Westonbirt School—a girls’ boarding school—since 1928, the house and 210-acre grounds are open to the public on certain days.

Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

Surrounded by 274 acres of formal gardens, the baroque Dyrham Park country house was built during the 17th and early 18th centuries.

Sumptuously decorated with wood paneling and tiles of Dutch Delftware, the artwork and artifacts include a collection of Dutch Masters.

Dyrham Park mansion in Gloucestershire hosting an MG Owners Club meet. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Dyrham Park mansion in Gloucestershire hosting an MG Owners Club meet. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Drawing Room at Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Drawing Room at Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Bedroom at Dyrham Park Mansion, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Bedroom at Dyrham Park Mansion, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Stanway House, Stanway, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Stanway House, Stanway, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Stanway House is a Jacobean manor house set in historic parkland with a recently installed fountain rising 300ft, making it the tallest gravity fountain in the world.

Rodmarton Manor, nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Credit Robert Powell
Rodmarton Manor, nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Credit Robert Powell

Churches and Abbeys

One of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Britain, Tewkesbury Abbey is also the second largest parish church in the country.

Formerly a Benedictine Monastery, it became one of the wealthiest abbeys of medieval England.

Tewskesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire. Credit Paul Pichota
Tewskesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire. Credit Paul Pichota
The decorated ceiling of Tewkesbury Abbey directly above the choir and altar. Credt Bs0u10e01
The decorated ceiling of Tewkesbury Abbey directly above the choir and altar. Credit Bs0u10e01

Housing the most complete set of medieval stained glass in Britain, the parish church of Saint Mary at Fairford is an example of late Perpendicular Gothic architecture characterised by slim stone window mullions and light but strong buttresses.

Parish Church of St. Mary, Fairford. Credit Mymuk
Parish Church of St. Mary, Fairford. Credit Mymuk

The style enabled larger windows than previously, allowing much more light into the building.

The Transfiguration of Christ. Stained glass window in St Mary's Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire. Credit Julian P Guffogg
The Transfiguration of Christ. Stained glass window in St Mary’s Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire. Credit Julian P Guffogg
The Last Judgment. Stained glass window in St Mary's Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire
The Last Judgment. Stained glass window in St Mary’s Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire

Known as the “Cathedral of the Cotswolds”, St John the Baptist parish church in Cirencester was financed by wealthy wool merchants.

Street in Cirencester with St John the Baptist parish church. Credit SLR Jester
Street in Cirencester with St John the Baptist parish church. Credit SLR Jester
Interior view of St John the Baptist parish church in Cirencester. Credit Daniel 2005, flickr
Interior view of St John the Baptist parish church in Cirencester. Credit Daniel 2005, flickr

Whether you visit for a day trip or a longer stay, you’re sure to fall in love with Gloucestershire again and again.

10 Beautiful English Villages

Known throughout the world for their beauty, the quintessential English village is a magical escape for urban city-dwellers.

Quaint cottages nestled around a village green or bordering little rivers and surrounded by rolling countryside, there are dozens to enjoy across the British Isles.

Here are 10 of our favorite English villages.

1. Abbotsbury, Dorset

With nearly a hundred structures listed by English Heritage for their historic or architectural interest, Abbotsbury will surprise and delight.

Surrounded by hills and sat within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Abbotsbury is only a mile inland from the English Channel coast.

Abbotsbury’s 11th-century Benedictine Abbey was founded by one of King Cnut’s nobles from Scandinavia.

Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Abbotsbury comprises a long street called Rodden Row filled with pretty thatched cottages, some dating to the 1500s and built using stone from the ruined 11th-century Abbey.

18th century cottages in Rodden Row at Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
18th-century cottages in Rodden Row at Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

Notable for its fine coastal views, the road between Abbotsbury and Burton Bradstock reveals an 18-mile section of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site famous for fossil discoveries in the 19th century.

Chesil Beach, from Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Chesil Beach, from Abbotsbury, Dorset. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

2. Clovelly, Devon

Noted for its steep cobbled main street and stunning views over the Bristol Channel, Clovelly is a privately owned English village with over 800 years of history.

Clovelly Main Street, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Clovelly Main Street, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Descending 400 feet to the pier, Clovelly’s main street is too steep for wheeled traffic and uses sleds for deliveries of goods and collection of refuse.

Clovelly, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Clovelly, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Donkeys used to haul the sleds uphill, but now goods are delivered to the top of the street and the sleds are pulled down the slope by hand, leaving the donkeys free to entertain holidaymakers.

Donkeys on the steep main street, outside the village's post office
Donkeys on the steep main street, outside the village’s post office

Charles Kingsley’s 1855 British historical novel Westward Ho! which celebrates England’s victories over Spain in the Elizabethan era, mentions this part of North Devon and helped make Clovelly a popular tourist destination.

Clovelly Main Street, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Clovelly Main Street, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Captured by artists for its richness of colour, the scenery along the South West Coast Path National Trail from Clovelly to Hartland Quay is particularly spectacular.

Clovelly Harbour, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Clovelly Harbour, Devon. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

3. Dedham, Essex

Formerly a rich wool town and market town, Dedham is a flourishing commercial village, with good old-fashioned shops like a butcher, grocer, delicatessen, and art shop.

Lovely colourful Georgian and Elizabethan timber-framed houses line the High Street.

Dedham, Essex. Credit JR P, flickr
Dedham, Essex. Credit JR P, flickr

Nestled along the River Stour on the border between Essex and Suffolk counties, Dedham is frequently rated as having some of England’s most beautiful water-meadow landscapes.

River Stour, Dedham in Essex. Credit JR P, flickr
River Stour, Dedham in Essex. Credit JR P, flickr
A buttercup field in Dedham, Essex. Credit Keven Law, flickr
A buttercup field in Dedham, Essex. Credit Keven Law, flickr

Even on a crisp winter morning, a walk along the River Stour is idyllic, with its rows of evenly-spaced pollarded willow trees.

Trees along the River Stour, Dedham, Essex
Trees along the River Stour, Dedham, Essex
Rowing boats near Dedham. Credit Keven Law
Rowing boats near Dedham. Credit Keven Law

Dedham is “Constable Country” where famed English Romantic painter John Constable set up his easel to paint iconic scenes.

I should paint my own places best, painting is but another word for feeling.John Constable, 1821

Revered as one of the greatest British paintings and currently hanging in the National Gallery, London, “The Hay Wain” of 1821 depicts a rural scene on the River Stour with “Willy Lott’s Cottage” in Suffolk on the left and the Essex meadows on the right.

The Hay Wain by John Constable, 1821
The Hay Wain by John Constable, 1821

You can visit the famous 16th-century cottage today at Flatford in the heart of the Dedham Vale.

4. Hambleden, Buckinghamshire

Meaning “crooked or irregularly-shaped hill” in Anglo Saxon, Hambleden is a beautiful little village just north of the River Thames about 40 miles west of London.

Hambledon was granted a royal charter in 1315 to hold a market in the village and a fair on St Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, every year.

The brick and flint cottages in the centre of the village have dormer windows topped with red tiles.

Cottages, Hambleden, Buckinghamshire. Credit Oswald Bertram
Cottages, Hambleden, Buckinghamshire. Credit Oswald Bertram

Hambleden served as a base for US soldiers in the build up to D-Day 1944 and was depicted as the training ground for Easy Company in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.

Used as a location for several films including Disney’s 1996 “101 Dalmatians” and Warner Bros. 1998 “The Avengers”, Hambleden also played host to Johnny Depp and Cristina Ricci for a month-long location shoot during filming for Tim Burton’s 1999 gothic horror “Sleepy Hollow”.

Houses at Hambleden village. Credit Peter
Houses at Hambleden village. Credit Peter

Dating from the 14th century, St Mary’s church has an intricately decorated ceiling and a tower with eight bells.

St Mary the Virgin, Hambleden. Credit GameKeeper
St Mary the Virgin, Hambleden. Credit GameKeeper

Hambleden’s village post office also serves as the local shop and cafe.

Post Office at Hambleden, Buckinghamshire. Russ Hamer
Post Office at Hambleden, Buckinghamshire. Russ Hamer

5. Hawkshead, Cumbria

An important wool market in medieval times, Hawkshead in the Lake District sits in a valley to the west of Windermere and east of Coniston Water.

Hawkshead, The Lake District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Hawkshead, The Lake District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Originally owned by monks of 12th-century Furness Abbey, once the second-wealthiest and most powerful Cistercian monastery in the country, Hawkshead became prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries.

English Romantic poet William Wordsworth was educated at Hawkshead Grammar School and English writer Beatrix Potter lived nearby, marrying a solicitor from Hawkshead.

Hawkshead, Lake District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Hawkshead, Lake District. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Hawkshead’s timeless atmosphere encourages visitors to explore its alleyways, overhanging gables, and medieval squares.

Wordsworth's Grammar School, Hawkshead, Cumbria. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Wordsworth’s Grammar School, Hawkshead, Cumbria. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

St Michael and All Angels Church in Hawkshead is considered to be one of the best Lake District churches.

Constructed in rubble stone with a slate roof, the 12th-century chapel was extended in 1300 and the north and south aisles added 200 years later.

Listed as a Grade I building of exceptional interest, the interior is thickly whitewashed with five-bay arcades consisting of segmental arches on round piers.

St Michael and All Angels Church at Hawkshead, Cumbria. Credit Anne Roberts, flickr
St Michael and All Angels Church at Hawkshead, Cumbria. Credit Anne Roberts, flickr

6. Lacock, Wiltshire

Unspoiled and owned almost entirely by the National Trust conservation organization, Lacock’s pristine appearance makes it a popular tourist spot.

Mentioned in the Domesday Book manuscript record of 1086, Lacock was later granted a market and developed a thriving wool industry during the Middle Ages.

Lacock abbey National Trust. Credit Barry Skeates
Lacock abbey National Trust. Credit Barry Skeates
The George Inn, Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit Robert Powell
The George Inn, Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit Robert Powell

Lacock village has been used as a film and television location, most notably the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, a series of Downton Abbey, and brief appearances in two Harry Potter films.

Related post: To many, Colin Firth IS Mr Darcy ….

Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit Immanuel giel
Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit Immanuel giel

St Cyriac’s Church was founded in the 14th century and dedicated to the Norman saint, St Cyriac.

The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit WJournalist
The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit WJournalist

Lacock has two public houses and a number of shops in its High Street including a grocery store, a bakery, gift shops and a National Trust shop.

The picturesque village Bakery at Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit Anguskirk
The picturesque village Bakery at Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit Anguskirk

7. Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire

Built on the banks of the River Eye in Gloucestershire, records exist showing that Lower Slaughter has been inhabited for over 1000 years.

A 19th-century water mill sits at the west end of the village, complete with an undershot waterwheel and a chimney for additional steam power.

The Mill at Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit Phil Dolby, flickr
The Mill at Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit Phil Dolby, flickr

Dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, the 13th-century Anglican parish church was enlarged in 1866, with the spire and peal of six bells benefiting from a recent restoration.

Saint Mary The Virgin Church in Lower Slaughter. Credit Jonathan, flickr
Saint Mary The Virgin Church in Lower Slaughter. Credit Jonathan, flickr

Several small stone footbridges join the two sides of the Lower Slaughter community that is divided by the river.

Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire, Cotswolds. Credit Jonathan, flickr
Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire, Cotswolds. Credit Jonathan, flickr

Honey-coloured Cotswold sandstone adorns the beautiful homes in the village, many with mullioned windows and other embellishments such as projecting gables.

Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

8. Nether Wallop, Hampshire

Derived from the Old English words waella and hop, which together mean “the valley of the springing water”, Nether Wallop was once the site of an ancient battle between Britons and the invading Jutes, in which the Britons were victorious.

Nether Wallop is one of three beautiful villages known as The Wallops, with the other two being Over Wallop and Middle Wallop.

With its many old thatched cottages, Nether Wallop has featured in books and TV as one of the prettiest villages in England.

Thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

For over 200 years the village pub, The Five Bells, was the centre of village life and the community social hub, where villagers met to eat and enjoy real ales.

Related post: The History and Tradition of Social Networking in Britain.

The Five Bells pub in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
The Five Bells pub in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Cows come to drink in Wallop Brook at Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
Cows come to drink in Wallop Brook at Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
A thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr
A thatched cottage in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Credit Anguskirk, flickr

Related post: 18 Gorgeous English Thatched Cottages.

9. Polperro, Cornwall

Tightly-packed ancient fisherman’s cottages, a quaint little harbour, and pristine coastline combine to make Polperro a well-loved tourist destination.

The name Polperro is derived from old Cornish “Porthpyra” meaning “harbour named after Saint Pyran”, a 5th-century Cornish abbot and patron saint of tin miners.

Polperro inner harbour, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Polperro inner harbour, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Recognised as a fishing settlement as early as the 13th century, smuggling helped local fishermen boost their income from as early as the 1100s.

High taxation of imports caused by Britain’s wars with France and America made it worthwhile for spirits, tobacco, and other goods to be smuggled from Guernsey and elsewhere.

19th-century Coast Guards and the threat of stiff penalties eventually deterred the smugglers.

Lansallos Street, Polperro, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Lansallos Street, Polperro, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Typical old fisherman’s cottages in Polperro had storage for fishing nets on the ground floor with steps leading to the living accommodation above.

Fisherman's cottage, Polperro, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Fisherman’s cottage, Polperro, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Polperro legends include the ghost of smuggler Willy Wilcox who disappeared whilst hiding in the beaches’ labyrinthine caves.

The Spirit of the Forest is said to come down from the woods above the village and leave sweetmeats at the homes of the poor during times of great economic hardship and foretells of good fortune for the recipients.

Misty day at Polperro, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Misty day at Polperro, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

10. Staithes, North Yorkshire

Once a thriving fishing village, Staithes is now a center for tourism within the North York Moors National Park.

Derived from Old English, the name Staithes means “Landing Place”.

Staithes has a sheltered harbour, bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters.

The Blue Hour in Staithes, North Yorkshire. Credit Vaidotas Mišeikis, flickr
The Blue Hour in Staithes, North Yorkshire. Credit Vaidotas Mišeikis, flickr
Staithes, North Yorkshire. Credit Philip Edmondson, flickr
Staithes, North Yorkshire. Credit Philip Edmondson, flickr

More than half of the houses are second homes of outsiders from cities such as Leeds and York.

Villagers still practice local traditions, with many of the local women buying Staithes bonnets and local men singing in the Staithes Fisher Men’s Choir.

The main street in Staithes.. Credit mattbuck
The main street in Staithes.. Credit mattbuck

In the late 19th century, there were 80 full-time fishing boats putting out to sea from Staithes.

Now there are a handful of part-time fishermen still plying their trade in traditional fishing vessels called cobles.

Staithes’s most famous resident, James Cook worked as a grocer’s apprentice in 1745, beginning a lifelong passion for the sea.

Staithes, North Yorkshire. Credit Richard Walker, flickr
Staithes, North Yorkshire. Credit Richard Walker, flickr

7 Reasons Why You’ll Fall in Love With the Cotswolds

If you’ve decided on a trip to England for your next vacation, after you’ve enjoyed the bright lights of London, with all its glamour, sophistication and culture, one of the best places to slow-it-down and experience the quintessential English countryside is the Cotswolds.

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The Cotswolds is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by the government, which provides the same level of protection from development as the UK’s national parks. And it’s not difficult to see why this area is protected—gently rolling hills and meadows dotted with honey-colored stone-built historic villages, towns, country houses, and gardens.

There are many, many places to visit, but here are a few we visit on our journey through the Cotswolds.

One essential piece of equipment will be your camera because when you visit, you will want to capture the memories of this beautiful place forever.

Here are 7 reasons why you’ll fall in love with the Cotswolds.

1. The beauty will astound you

Cotswolds landscape. Credit Marina De Vos
Cotswolds landscape. Credit Marina De Vos
Several varieties of Lavender. Credit Saffron Blaze
Several varieties of Lavender. Credit Saffron Blaze
Linseed flower. Credit Herry Lawford
Linseed flower. Credit Herry Lawford
Bourton-on-the-water. Credit BritainandBritishness.com
Bourton-on-the-water. Credit BritainandBritishness.com

2. The buildings are made from the gorgeous honey-coloured local stone

Rich in fossils and dating from the Jurrasic period, the yellowish limestone of the Cotswolds varies in color from honey in the north to golden in central and southern parts and almost pearl-colored in the city of Bath.

The color takes on an especially warm hue as it reflects the afternoon sunlight.

House in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
House in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
Arlington Row in Bibury, Gloucestershire was built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. The buildings were converted into weavers' cottages in the 17th century
Arlington Row in Bibury, Gloucestershire was built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. The buildings were converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. Credit: Saffron Blaze.
The Royal Crescent in the City of Bath
The Royal Crescent in the City of Bath

3. The Cotswolds is steeped in history

Dating from the 14th century, Chipping Campden was once a thriving market town made rich from the wool trade.

Under these arches and on this cobbled floor, 17th-century wool merchants would ply their trade.

Built in 1627, the Market Hall was donated to the village by Viscount Campden.

The cobbled floor of the 17th century Market Hall in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
The cobbled floor of the 17th century Market Hall in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Anguskirk
Clockwise from top left: Almshouses donated to some of the village's poor folk by Baptist Hicks, 1st Viscount Campden; the banqueting hall is all that remains of Viscount Hicks's country mansion in Chipping Campden; Viscount Hicks; Viscount Hicks and his wife at rest in St James's church, Chipping Campden
Clockwise from top left: Almshouses donated to some of the village’s poor folk by Baptist Hicks, 1st Viscount Campden; the banqueting hall is all that remains of Viscount Hicks’s country mansion in Chipping Campden; Viscount Hicks; Viscount Hicks and his wife at rest in St James’s church, Chipping Campden

Standing 65 ft (20 m) tall, the Broadway Tower has a commanding view as the second-highest point in the Cotswold hills.

Built for Lady Coventry in 1799, the “Saxon” folly was the inspiration of Capability Brown—”England’s greatest gardener”—who wanted to answer a whimsical question from Lady Coventry: if a beacon tower were built here, could she see it from her house 22 miles away? Lady Coventry was so intrigued, she sponsored the construction.

Broadway Tower. Credit Phil Dolby
Broadway Tower. Credit Phil Dolby

Even buildings in the high streets of dozens of small Cotswold towns hold stories from centuries past.

Below, a rider passes in front of the Lygon Arms hotel in Broadway. Once called the White Hart Inn, Oliver Cromwell stayed here on 2nd September 1651, the night before the Battle of Worcester—the final and decisive battle of the English Civil War, fought between King Charles I’s royalist “Cavaliers” and Parliament’s “Roundheads”.

A rider passes in front of the Lygon Arms hotel in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze
A rider passes in front of the Lygon Arms hotel in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze

4. The Cotswolds is a garden lover’s dream

For gardening fans, there are several famous and historic gardens.

Hidcote Manor Garden at Kiftsgate is owned and managed by the National Trust and open to the public.

Bourton House Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
Bourton House Garden, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P

Property owners love their gardens and it’s common to see flowers used as creative decoration to adorn front doors.

Broadway Terraced Cottages. Credit JR P
Broadway Terraced Cottages. Credit JR P
A cottage in Moreton-in-Marsh with wisteria growing round the front door
A cottage in Moreton-in-Marsh with wisteria growing around the front door

5. It’s like stepping back in time

Dreaming of a bygone era? Look no further than the Cotswolds where good old-fashioned values take prominence over progress.

Delivery bicycle at Tisanes Tea Room in Broadway, Worcestershire. Credit Mick
Delivery bicycle at Tisanes Tea Room in Broadway, Worcestershire. Credit Mick
1924 Vintage Vauxhall. Credit Roland Turner
1924 Vintage Vauxhall. Credit Roland Turner
1937 Austin van at the Cotswolds Motor Museum in Bourton-on-the-water
1937 Austin van at the Cotswolds Motor Museum in Bourton-on-the-water
Steam locomotive 92203 at Toddington on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway
Steam locomotive 92203 at Toddington on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway
Old fashioned Ice Cream Van. Credit Jim Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway
Old fashioned Ice Cream Van. Credit Jim Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway

6. Shops, pubs, tea rooms, and restaurants abound

The Cotswolds is a place where villages still have a greengrocer on the corner and local residents walk the dog to fetch a morning newspaper, stopping along the way to chat with neighbors.

Shops along High Street in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze
Shops along High Street in Broadway. Credit Saffron Blaze
The Fox Inn in Lower Oddington in the Cotswolds. Credit JR P
The Fox Inn in Lower Oddington in the Cotswolds. Credit JR P
Waterfront Tea Room and Eatery - Riverside, Bourton-on-the-Water. Credit Elliott Brown
Waterfront Tea Room and Eatery – Riverside, Bourton-on-the-Water. Credit Elliott Brown
Afternoon tea or a cocktail in the garden of the Broadway Hotel
Afternoon tea or a cocktail in the garden of the Broadway Hotel

Whatever time of year you visit, the Cotswolds will delight and surprise. Enjoy fine dining or a beverage (or two) by a cozy fireplace.

The Trout Inn on the River Thames at Lechlade, Cotswolds, England
The Trout Inn on the River Thames at Lechlade, Cotswolds, England

7. There are public footpaths and cycle paths everywhere

Signpost along the Cotswold Way. Credit Richard Cocks
Signpost along the Cotswold Way. Credit Richard Cocks
Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
A footpath in Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P
A footpath in Blockley, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. Credit JR P