Cotswold Holiday

For a while I have wanted to pay a visit to the Cotswolds.  I have driven through on occasions and once spent the night in Tetbury.  This year, with my husband we spent a week in Stow-on-the-Wold. This was to be our base, central to travel to the many quaint villages in the area.

Having spent several hours in the car on Saturday we decided to walk round some of Stow-on-the-Wold on Sunday.  We passed Porch House, the oldest inn in England.  It is said there used to be a Saxon inn on this site.

Porch House

From here we headed for Maugersbury and the Fosse Way.  There were some lovely views across to the Icomb Hills. (and some very expensive, charming houses on the opposite side of the road)  We walked on towards the Fosse Way.  

Icomb Hills

From here we walked back towards Stow-on-the-Wold and the market square, through Fleece Street and Sheep Street.  There are a few very narrow alleys leading into the market square.  It is thought these were used to herd sheep through to the market, making it easy to count them as they entered the square. There could be as many as 20,000 sheep in the market square on any given day.  The Cotswolds was known for its sheep, and therefore the trade in wool bringing prosperity to the area.

After a coffee, we went to a local pub for Sunday lunch, (which was good) and then took photos of the war memorial and the bell spire.

War Memorial

Town Hall

The bell spire was added to St. Edward's Hall in 1894 because the church wouldn't allow the fire bell to be hung in the church.
St. Edward's Hall was built in 1878.  A museum, library,  reading room and recreational facilities were on the lower floor and the upper floor held dances and balls.  The visitors centre, library and historical information are now down stairs and above is where the town hall meetings and functions are held and also dances. 
From here we walked round to St. Edmunds church to visit the very famous door built between two yew trees.  The door was placed between the trees around the 13th century.

Church door between yew trees

The Cotswolds became very rich from the wool trade in the middle ages and when the rich wool merchants died they would have a bale tomb put in the church yard.  The tomb would have an unusual curved top which represented the bale of wool.

Queen Elizabeth II Funeral
Monday 19th September. Today is the day of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral.  The country is in mourning with thousands of people out on the streets paying their respects.
We went for a prompt walk this morning before the ceremony and service began on the television.  The country can be proud of its ability to organise such an occasion on such a grand scale.  500 heads of state were present along with another 1500 guests at Westminster Abbey.  The military were represented by 100s of soldiers, sailors and airmen. 100s more police were present along the route with tens of thousands of the Queen's subjects.  A truly memorable , moving and very sad day.

Queen's Coffin Lying in State

Today is Tuesday, the weather is good and we are off to Lacock Abbey and Village.  Lacock Abbey was a medieval nunnery over 800 years ago. It was founded in 1232 by Ella, Countess of Salisbury.  It is one of the most complete surviving medieval nunneries in Britain.  The abbey was abandoned in 1539 during the disillusionment of the monasteries.  It then became a country home for the Sharington and then Talbot families.

It was here that William Henry Fox Talbot developed the photographic negative process.

The abbey has been used as a filming location for the likes of Harry Potter, Cranford, Downton Abbey and the White Princess.

Lacock Abbey

While the ground floor of the abbey remains much the same as it was.  Sharington added the top level above the cloisters for his home.

Building above the Cloisters

The cloister rooms were used for several scenes in the early Harry Potter films, including the Mirror of Erised and Professors Snape and Quirrell's classrooms.  The cloister walks were used as Hogwarts corridors.


This room led into the church. The Piscina (small basin) was filled with holy water and used by the Chaplain to cross himself as he entered the church, or to rinse the vessels used for celebrating mass.
The Piscina

The other two holes in this room, called Aumbries, would have been cupboards that once had wooden doors and were used for storing valuables.


Abbeys and monasteries were a place of learning in Medieval times and books were a precious item as they were expensive to produce. (All were hand written).
Below is an image of a book cupboard. It would have had wooden shelves and a lockable wooden door. Next to this cupboard there was a library.

Book Cupboard

Walking into Lacock village is like going back in time. It is quite easy to see why film makers would use the village for period dramas. The village was given to the National Trust by Matilda Talbot in 1944 thus insuring its historic integrity and protecting it from commercial pressures. Many original buildings still survive, including 'The Sign of the Angel', an inn in a 15th century weaver's house, a 14th century tithe barn complete with dirt floor, and a medieval church.

The High Street

The Bakery

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St Cyriac's Church

St Cyriac’s Church in Lacock is a lovely spot to take a look at while wandering around Lacock. The 14th-century church is believed to have been built on the site of an earlier Saxon church and it was substantially rebuilt in the 15th century. Additional renovations to the church have been made in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Despite dating from the 14th century, the Grade I-listed building is built in a Norman architectural style.

The church has appeared in the Harry Potter films and in 2006, it was the venue for the wedding of Laura Parker Bowles, the daughter of Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, which was attended by Prince William.

Sheep Gate

The sheep gate kept animals out of the churchyard while allowing access to churchgoers.
The George Inn has been used as a pub since 1361. The pub has an 'oldie, worldly' feel with its low ceilings and uneven floors. It was cosy and very friendly. One of the interesting features at the Inn is the turnspit dog wheel. The turnspit dog is an extinct breed that was trained to turn the wheel which was connected to a spit over an open fire that would rotate and cook the meat evenly.
Dog Spit

The open fire is still in use today and the spit can still be seen.

Castle Coombe
Parking at the top of a very steep hill we walked down into the very unspoilt, picturesque village of Castle Coombe.  (Often called the prettiest village in England. Not so if you live in Suffolk with its many thatched Tudor cottages)
The Dower house was the first we saw, built around 1700. We then approached the main square, marked by the medieval market cross. 

Market Cross

The view down the main street has changed little in the last 500 years.  The Baybrook stream at one time ran three textile mills, and most of the houses were weaver's cottages.


The Baybrook

St Andrew's church is a grand wool church dating from the 13th century.  The church has a faceless clock which is reputed to be one of the oldest working clocks in the country.

The Slaughters
A visit to The Slaughter's is a must. Slaughter means marshy place and in Lower Slaughter the River Eye winds its way through the village. overlooked by a row of honey stone Cotswold cottages. 

The River Eye

Honey stone Cotswold cottages

The river continues to the mill where it is gradually being returned to its former glory.  The mill now boast an eclectic mix of quality items for sale and a lovely tea room, plus an ice cream parlour and a mill museum.

The Mill

From Lower Slaughter, a twenty minute walk along the river valley, across fields with grazing sheep leads to Upper Slaughter.

Original stone bridge leading from Lower Slaughter to Upper Slaughter

Upper Slaughter is another beautiful village tucked into a wooded dell.  The River Eye runs between the house with little bridges crossing it.  In places there are steps leading into the water where local people would have fetched their water.  

Foot Bridge Crossing River Eye

The village church of St Peter's sits on a Saxon foundation, but has seen many Victorian alterations.

St Peters Church

Burton-on-the-Water was our next stop.  This could be a lovely place to visit if it hadn't been spoilt by commercialism, and the many tourist that are bused in by the hour.  The River Windrush runs through the centre of the town with buildings on either side.  There is a series of five bridges across the Windrush but it is difficult to appreciate these with so many obstructions in the way.  (Not a place I would visit again).

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Wyke Rissington
Wyke Rissington is just about 1/12 walk from Burton-on-the-Water and a lovely tranquil village. It has about fifty houses, surrounded by open fields in the Cotswold area of outstanding natural beauty. The village green has a pond and is surrounded by horse chestnut trees. St Laurence’s Church dates from the 12th Century and has one of the earliest examples of primitive plate tracery. It was here that Gustav Holst found his first professional job as a church organist in 1892.

St Laurence's Church

Suddley Castle
Sudeley Castle was our destination today. The history of Sudeley Castle dates back before the Doomesday book. Ethelred the unready gifted the castle to his daughter Goda as a wedding present. The castle was destroyed during the reign of Stephen. The present building dates mainly from the 15th century. It has had a very chequered history of various kings and queens since then. 
Sudley Castle

It is now owned by Elizabeth Ashcombe who has worked wonders with the castle gardens.
There are 10 magnificent, award-winning gardens which sweep around the castle and grounds.

Castle and Grounds

St Mary's Church is unique in being both the chapel of Sudeley Castle and a parish church in its own right. Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII, lived and died in the castle and her tomb is in the church.

Parish Church

Katherine Parr's tomb was rediscovered by a group of sightseers in 1782 at the side of the ruined chapel.  Until the chapel was rebuilt her coffin was sealed up in the Chandos family fault.  When the chapel was restored in the 19th century her coffin was moved and place in the church, beneath a fine marble effigy.

Katherine Parr's Tomb

The only part that remained after Cromwell and his men slighted the church was a small side chapel with a roof.  Services continued here until the church was restored.

Side Chapel

The last day of our holiday. We hope to visit Chipping Campden, Broadway Tower and Staton. Of all the places visited this week Chipping Campden was the best. It was like going back in time. The 17th century buildings were so well preserved with their golden stone walls and stone tiled roofs of oolitic limestone.
All the houses are joined to each other, sitting on the once burgage plots. Alleys can still be seen leading to the backs of the houses, which would have been used to take goods and animals to the back of the buildings.

Market Hall
The market hall was built to provide shelter for the sellers of butter, cheese, eggs etc.  The hall probably replaced an earlier timber framed building.  The cobbled floor is most likely original.

Market Hall

Original Cobbles
Town Hall
The present town hall was built in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.  The panelled buttresses on the side of the building are thought to date back to 1300s.
It is thought the building could once have been a chapel dedicated to St. Katherine.

Town Hall
St James Church
12 lime trees line the each side of the avenue leading to the church.  These honour the twelve apostles.  Over the years many alterations have taken place in the church.  In 1612 Sir Baptist Hicks, (Lord of the Manor) presented the church with a Jacobean pulpit and in 1618 he gave a brass lectern.  These are still in use today.  Beneath the tower there are a set of altar hangings.  These are thought to be the only surviving set of the period.

St. James Church

Campden House
Sir Baptist Hicks was one of the richest mercers and money lenders in London during the 17th century.  He built his manor house near to St James church.  It had an elaborate gateway and lodges and stables, a coach house, brew house and a laundry.  

Gateway and Lodges

There were extensive gardens and two banqueting houses.  All that can be seen today of the main house is a ruined wall.  The porter's lodge, two banqueting houses and another small building remain.  Many of the bricks from the main building were used for the buildings in the high street.

Banqueting House

The almshouses were built between the town and the church in 1612 by Sir Baptist Hicks at the cost £1000. There were twelve dwellings to provide accommodation for six poor men and six poor women who were allowed a weekly allowance of 3s. 4d. and “a frieze gown and a ton of coals and a felt hat” annually. Sir Hicks had piped water laid on at the same time as he had it piped to the hall.
The almshouses still provide homes for twelve elderly people and remain much as they were, apart from the addition of a modern kitchen and bathroom rather than the original “one up, one down” layout with a shared outside privy.

New Pool
Opposite the almshouses is a stone-lined cart wash.  The 'New Pool' replaced the 'Town Pool' that had existed for centuries.  The Scuttle Brook flowed over the road at this point and all carts and other wheeled traffic had to go through it on entering or leaving the town.  

New Pool

Broadway Tower
Broadway Tower is an iconic landmark built in the Cotswolds on Beacon Hill overlooking a pre-medieval trading route.  It was the brainchild of Capability Brown and was completed in 1798.  A climb to the top of the tower reveals a stunning view spanning 16  counties.  It is the second highest point in the Cotswolds.

Broadway Tower

Stanton village has changed little over the last 300 years.  There is a long main street with ancient Cotswold type houses, with mullion windows and steeply pitched gables. The only sign of commercialism is the village pub which has spectacular views overlooking the Vale of Evesham.

Stanton Village

St. Michaels church sits on a pagan site.  The church today is mostly 15th century with 13th century transepts.  

St Michaels Church

At the north-west end of the nave, several bench ends are deeply ringed by the dog-chains of the sheepdogs, brought by their masters to church.

Damage to Pew End

The Gothic pulpit (1375) is now used as a lectern.  It is interesting because it was unusual for the clergy to preach from a pulpit in church at that time, the village cross being used for that purpose.

Gothic Pulpit

On both the north and the south transept there are squints.  The south is not full passage whereas the north is.