Bourton on the Water is famously referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswold.” The village received its nickname mainly because of the fact that the River Windrush flows into and then out of the town and the small Cotswold stone bridges that span the river Windrush. Bourton on the Water is typically voted as one of the prettiest villages in England for good reason. In addition to the beauty of the River Windrush, the architectural style in the area is unique unto itself and the local surrounding area. The Cotswold houses and cottages can be dated back to the Elizabethan Times which were over 400-years ago. The roofs on these houses are usually very steep and dormer style windows are always present. To add to its appeal, just about all the buildings have been built in a yellow Cotswold stone.
The unique architecture and the River Windrush are not the only things that Bourton on the Water has going for it. There are plenty of tourist attractions in Bourton On the Water that can help keep any visitor busy when they are not walking the river or visiting a local boutique. Birdland, which is a zoo for birds, is located in Bourton. It is known for its extensive collection of penguins. Some of the penguins are from as far away as the South Atlantic. Model Village is another attraction that must be visited when in Bourton. This is a 1/9 scale model that depicts what the city looked like in 1937. Interestingly enough, the Model Village was built using authentic materials. Additional attractions that may be of interest for visitors is the motor car museum, the perfume factory, Dragon Fly maze and the model railway exhibition.
The series of low bridges that cross the River Windrush, in conjunction with the stone banks, unique architecture and interesting attractions, make Bourton on the Water one of a kind. These reasons are why it is one of the most visited spots in the Cotswold.
Bourton On The Water has plenty of accommodation available from luxury Cotswold hotels, Bed and breakfasts, Guest Houses, Country Pubs and Inns and just out of the area you can find caravan and camp sites.
Bourton On The water is ideal for a family day out or a base for you to stay whilst you can explore all of the surrounding villages of the Cotswolds with Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter being nearby.
Visit Bourton On The Water Official Website
Sezincote Gardens in Gloucestershire
Perhaps one of the most architecturally distinctive sites in the Cotswolds is the Sezincote House in Gloucestershire. This estate was designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell in 1805 in the Neo-Mughal style. The manor was constructed out of red sandstone with a copper chattri and minarets and is somewhat more exotic than the average English manor house. The interior design however is more typically European, similar to that of other manor houses in the Cotswolds.
Sezincote’s gardens offer many lovely views of the exterior of the exotic manor house, wide green lawns, a lily pond, statues of elephants, and hedges carved like elephants and other whimsical shapes. Sezincote is not your typical English manor house, nor are the gardens the classic English gardens you might expect when visiting the Cotswolds, but they do capture a different aspect of England’s past. Sezincote hearkens back to the age of British Empire, uniting the styles of England with those of the lands that England once conquered. This provides a different look at history captured through the lens of Cockerell’s fusion of architectural styles. Fans of English and Mughal architecture alike will enjoy his beautiful construction while roaming the green lawns of Sezincote gardens.
Sezincote Gardens is just a few miles from Moreton In Marsh & Blockley in Gloucestershire.
Sezincote Gardens Wikipedia
One of the larger manor houses in the Cotswolds is Rodmarton Manor, located near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. The building is an important monument to the Arts and Crafts style and was constructed from 1909-1929 based off a design by Ernest Barnsley. Barnsley himself was unable to complete the building, as he died in 1925; his brother and his son in law completed the work.
The large manor house is itself a fine example of the architecture of the time, but it is also famous for the collection of furniture and crafts from the Arts and Crafts movement. Outside the house, you can also explore eight acres of beautiful garden featuring wide lawns, a sizeable kitchen garden, elegant pathways and low stone walls, and artistically trimmed hedges and trees.
Roses and other flowers fill the air with their aroma while birds and butterflies flutter among the trees and blossoms. The garden is particularly famous for its snowdrops. There are more than 150 types! There is a lot to see and do at Rodmarton Manor, so you may want to plan a whole day of it while you are staying in Cirencester. It’s a great opportunity to get out of the city and take in some history.
Rodmarton Manor Website
If you are visiting the towns of Blockley or Morteton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire and want to discover one of the hidden gems of the Cotswolds, consider paying a visit to the charming Mille Dene Garden. The mill on this site has a history spanning back centuries, and was purchased by the Dare family in 1964. The Dares got into gardening and opened up their garden to the public in 1992. While the garden is not the most well known in the Cotswolds, nor is it the largest, it is a favorite of many visitors who are willing to wander off the beaten path a bit.
In the Mille Dene garden, you will find peaceful trails leading through the vegetable garden and past the swimming pool, stepping stones and a bridge across a babbling brook, a waterfall, a walk with roses, an ornamental fruit and herb garden, and other beautiful cultivated features. If you are interested in learning about gardening, you can volunteer and receive free training. Or you can simply relax and enjoy yourself as you stroll down the picturesque walkways. Blockley itself is also a lovely village to visit, located fifteen miles away from Stratford upon Avon. Enjoy visiting Mille Dene and escaping the crowds of Cheltenham!
Visitors to the Cotswolds who love English manor houses and gardens won’t want to miss the Bourton House while visiting the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill. Bourton-on-the-Hill is located in Gloucestershire two miles west of Moreton-in-Marsh, some of the most scenic countryside in the Cotswolds. The Bourton House has a history dating back to at least 1570, the date on the dedication stone preserved on the site. The stately manor was then rebuilt by Sir Nicholas Overbury in 1598 in the Jacobean style. Considered unfashionable, it was rebuilt once more in the early 18th century by Alexander Popham. The house has changed its form in some respects over the intervening years, but is otherwise intact.
Bourton House is known for its elegant English garden more than any other feature. At the Bourton House Garden, you will find expansive green lawns offering lovely views of the house itself, comfortable garden benches in shady corners, artistically trimmed hedges, whimsically sculpted trees and bushes, and colorful fruits, vegetables, and flowers adorning the garden beds. A neatly trimmed hedge maze offers visitors the chance to explore a charming knot garden. The Bourton House garden may not be as large as some other gardens in the region, but it is among the most beautifully cultivated.
If you love trees, flowers, and the delights of nature, you will want to make some time during your Cotswolds trip to visit Batsford Arboretum. The arboretum is located on 55 acres of richly cultivated land near the town of Batsford near Moreton In Marsh in Gloucestershire. The arboretum was first cultivated by Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale, who inherited the land in 1886 and was inspired by the gardens he saw while traveling in Asia. Today, the arboretum is maintained by a charity and is open to visitors throughout the year.
What is there to see at Batsford? The diverse collection of trees on site includes acers, bamboos, magnolias, Japanese Maples, Mountain Ash, Japanese Cherries, and much more. You will also see Asian sculptures, bridges, lily ponds, and other lovely features. The layout of the gardens is unique, since the style was inspired by gardens which Freeman-Mitford saw while in China and Japan. Bringing together these Far East styles with traditional English cultivation styles, Freeman-Mitford created a matchless park. The Batsford Arboretum is one of the largest and most beautiful landscaped areas in the Cotswolds. A café is conveniently located on site so that you can take a break and get a bite to eat while exploring the park.
Batsford Arboretum Website
The beautiful Hidcote Manor houses and gardens of the Cotswolds are among the biggest draws of the English countryside for many visitors. One of the most beautiful and well tended is Hidcote Manor Garden, located near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. This stately English garden was actually created by an American expatriate named Lawrence Johnston.
Hidcote Manor Garden is best known for its layout of “rooms” which are interlinked together and feature beautiful hedges, shrubs, and flowers. The garden is currently in the care of the National Trust, and was originally inspired by the gardening work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyll. Flowers and trees include hellebores, magnolias, narcissi, skunk cabbage, handkerchief trees, tulips, alliums, wisteria, and more.
When you explore Hidcote Manor Garden, you will explore “rooms” outdoors created by hedges, yew, hornbeam, and artificially constructed stone walls. The rooms each contain different flowers, herbs, and other plants, ponds, fountains, and other beautiful features. The gardens themselves are certainly the main feature of the manor and its biggest attraction, but there are other fun activities which you can also participate in while you are visiting. You can play tennis or croquet, hunt for insects, or learn about gardening in a family learning workshop. Classes are offered in tree climbing, and you can also embark on wildlife watches to see bats and other animals which come out around sunset.
More information at The National Trust Hidcote Gardens website
If you love nature and horticulture and are visiting the Cotswolds, you will want to make sure that Westonbirt Arboretum is on your itinerary. This National Arboretum is situated near the market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. The arboretum is probably the most famous in all of the UK, and was originally planted in the middle of the 19th century by Robert Stayner Holford. Following his death, it was passed onto his son, George Lindsay Holford, and then to the Earl of Morley, and finally to the Forestry Commission, which manages the beautiful park today.
At Westonbirt, you’ll be able to explore an elegantly cultivated landscape with more than 18,000 trees and shrubs, planted within 600 acres. There are 27 kilometers of paths to explore, taking visitors to the two main areas of the park, the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. The Old Arboretum has a more cultivated look than the Silk Wood, which offers an experience closer to that of a wild forest. The Old Arboretum features the stately grounds which so many visitors to the Cotswolds associate with the English countryside. Many rare trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants can be found in the Old Arboretum and the Silk Wood, including some of the tallest or largest of their kind in the entire country. These special trees and plants are marked as “champions” with blue labels to identify them to visitors.
With so much to see and do, you could probably easily spend days in the Arboretum exploring and learning about trees and flowers. So if you are only going to be in the area a short while and you only have a few hours to spend in the Arboretum, you will definitely want to check the Arboretum’s website first to find out what flowers are in bloom and which leaves are turning. You can also find guides to the 17 miles of trails as well as activities for children and adults.
Depending on what time of year you are in the region, you may be able to visit the Arboretum during one of its annual festivals, Treefest, which features music, camping, and other fun activities in August, or the Enchanted Christmas event. During the Enchanted Christmas event, trees and pathways are illuminated in the evenings so that guests can explore the beauty of the park at nighttime and see the Arboretum in a whole new way.
Westonbirt Arboretum Website
Snowshill Manor is one of the best known manor houses in the Cotswolds, and is certainly the most famous landmark near the village of Snowshill. Located in Gloucestershire near Broadway, Snowshill was originally owned by the Winchcombe Abbey from 821 until 1539. That was the year of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, after which Henry VIII took over the property. It changed hands a number of times over the next several centuries, and was eventually taken by Charles Paget Wade, a famous architect, craftsman and collector. Once he had charge of Snowshill, he made it his task to restore the property in full. Today Snowshill Manor still houses his diverse and fascinating collections.
While the house itself is quite beautiful, Wade’s collections are perhaps the main draw to tourists, who come to see his 26 samurai armor suits, instruments, bicycles, toys and other assorted items of interest. Wade was known to be a flamboyant and mysterious person. He entertained many famous guests in his manor house including J.B. Priestley, Virginia Woolf, John Buchan and others. J. B. Priestley famously described Wade as, “My eccentric, but charming friend of the fantastic manor house.”
Snowshill itself is a small village and not among the better known destinations in the Cotswolds, though it does offer some off-the-beaten-path charm. As you might guess from its name, Snowshill is situated atop a hill which overlooks the countryside of Broadway, Laverton and Buckland, and during the colder months of the year, if snow is going to collect anywhere, it collects in Snowshill first. While you’re visiting the Snowshill Manor, you might choose to stay in Snowshill or in one of the other nearby market towns. Snowshill may be recognizable to you from the filming of Bridget Jones’s Diary. From the hillside vantage point, Snowshill offers lovely views of the tree-covered hillsides, Snowshill Manor is also known for the Lavender Fields nearby. There are many wonderful accommodations in town, and while you’re staying in Snowshill you’ll definitely want to visit the Snowshill Arms Pub.
If you are planning a visit and tour of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire then one of the must see attractions is Painswick Rococo Garden. This garden originally constructed in the early 18th Century by Benjamin Hyett can be found in a hidden valley behind Painswick house.
As with a lot of these gardens it had been left unmaintained and was by the 1970’s an overgrown jungle that appeared where the gardens once stood. Historians were very interested in the garden design of the period between 1720 and 1760; it was during this period of time that gardens, especially the gardens of landed gentry were designed as a playground of frivolity for the Georgian gentry to party.
This period of garden design was called Rococo by the garden historians and they encouraged Lord Dickenson a descendant of Hyett to embark on a programme of restoring the gardens to their former glory. It wasn’t until 1988 that the gardens were entrusted to the Painswick Rococo Garden trust that now look after maintain and run the gardens for everyone to enjoy.
The original gardens were painted in 1748 by Thomas Robbins and it is from this painting that much of the restoration work has been completed to restore it to its original state. As a permanent reminder of the original creation of the gardens that being one of a love playground for the Georgian gentry, stands a statue of Pan the God of love at the entrance to the gardens.
It takes around an hour to complete the tour of the gardens, but many people spend hours just strolling through and enjoying the peaceful sedate surroundings of this magical sensual garden. One of the most popular attractions in the garden is the maze which was actually constructed in more recent times and was first planted in 2000 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Painswick Rococo Gardens.
A fantastic focal point of the garden is the kitchen garden planted in the shape of a diamond with paths running alongside the herbs and vegetables, all this produce is used in the on-site restaurant to feed hungry visitors, so if you enjoy locally grown food then it could not be more local than being grown in the garden itself.
When the restoration of the gardens began it was decided to only use plants and flowers that would have been available up to 1745 this gives the garden a real sense of originality. If you love snowdrops then you are in for a real treat if you visit in February, Painswick Rococo Gardens has one of the most naturalistic snowdrop displays in the country.
There are many events laid on throughout the opening year which runs from February to October such as art exhibitions and historical readings in the grounds. Also a popular wedding venue because of its unique settings Painswick Rococo Gardens offer wedding ceremonies, baby naming ceremonies and renewal of vows ceremonies. The backdrop of the gardens and scenery make fantastic wedding photography. The coach house is also available to hire for parties, meetings and other functions along with the catering. There is also a gift shop on site selling a wide range of plants and pots to suit all budgets.