Roman Baths in Bath

Visiting the Cotswolds and interested in Roman history?  You won’t want to miss out on the incredibly well-preserved Roman Baths complex in the city of Bath.  This public bathing house features four main elements, the Roman Temple, the Sacred Spring, the Roman Bath House and the Museum, which contains a number of artifacts discovered in the Bath House.  More than a million visitors a year make it a point to stop by the Roman Baths and the Grand Pump Room nearby.

While you cannot actually bathe in the spring water in the Bath House, you can look at it.  There are also plenty of other fun historical activities you can participate in.  Throughout the day, workers garbed in Roman costumes tell stories to visitors about living and working in the Bath House two thousand years ago.  You can also stop in at the Pump Room and enjoy coffee, lunch, or tea, and while you cannot bathe in the water, you can taste the water from the spring at the fountain (you cannot bathe because the pipes that lead to the baths—not the fountain—are made of lead and have been declared unsafe owing to radioactivity and infectious disease, while the fountain water is safe).

In the evenings, the Roman Baths are lit by torches and are a lot less crowded.  The guided walk by torchlight is very atmospheric and can help you to experience the feeling that you have traveled back in time.  If you love Roman History, you will be thrilled at how well preserved these ruins are and how magnificently they capture a portrait of daily life in Ancient Rome!

Rollright Stones

The Rollright Stones

If you are visiting the Cotswolds and are intrigued by particularly ancient history, you may wish to visit the Rollright Stones, located near the village of Long Compton on the borders of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire in the English Midlands.  These stones are constructed out of oolitic limestone, mined locally, and comprise three different Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments.  They are known as The King’s Men, The King Stone and The Whispering Knights.  The three monuments were erected at different periods of late prehistory, and the fact that they were all constructed here shows that this particular plot of ground was regarded as sacred for quite some time by different societies.

The Whispering Knights was constructed as a burial marker in the Early or Middle Neolithic period.  The second monument to be placed in the area was the King’s Men.  This stone circle was built either in the Late Neolithic Period or in the Early Bronze Age.  Similar structures can be found in the Lake District to the north, implying a connection of some sort.  The King Stone was erected last, and is a single monolith that probably was used as a grave marker in the Bronze Age.

The Cotswold Conservation Board has voted the Rollright Stones to be one of the “Seven Wonders of the Cotswolds.”  They are quite well known worldwide and remain a very popular destination for tourists in the area.  There are a number of folk legends attributed to the stones, and many visitors believe they have mystical qualities.  Regardless of the truth, there is no denying that there is a magical, antiquated atmosphere to the location which is steeped in mystery and reverence.  If you want to experience some of the oldest monuments in England, then you will want to be sure to stop by the Rollright Stones while you are visiting the Cotswolds.

 

Longleat House

Longleat House

If you are visiting the Cotswolds and want to see a truly magnificent, stately home, Longleat is a perfect choice.  This Elizabethan country house is immense and imposing in its splendor, set on neatly cultivated grounds with elaborate hedge mazes, landscaped parkland, and even a safari park.

More than 900 acres of land comprise the grounds, landscaped by the famous Capability Brown.  The house was completed in 1580.  If you take the tour of the house, you will be able to view the Great Hall with the minstrels’ gallery, the lower east corridor, several different libraries and dining rooms, the saloon, several bedrooms, and the grand staircase.

With seven libraries and more than 40,000 books, Longleat houses one of the largest private book collections in all of Europe.  You can also view the waistcoat worn by King Charles I during his execution in 1649, still stained with his blood.

Longleat Safari Park

While you are in the area, don’t miss out on visiting the Longleat Safari Park, the first drive-through safari park located outside of Africa.  The park is situated on 9,000 acres and was opened in 1966.  You can view more than 500 animals roaming freely over the landscape, including giraffes, rhinos, lions, tigers, and more.

You can even purchase the VIP experience and feed the animals yourself—even the fearsome predators.  A passport ticket will give you access to the Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, the gardens and grounds, the hedge maze, and many other fun attractions in the area.

There is so much to see and do here that you could easily spend days just exploring this small area of Wiltshire.

The entire experience is one which you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Kelmscott Manor Near Lechlade

Kelmscott Manor near Lechlade was the home of William Morris.  Morris lived from 1832-1896, and was a famous textile designer associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement.  As an artist and a writer, he also frequently shared his insights about life and was also one of the earliest fantasy writers.

The manor itself is constructed of grey stone and sits in the middle of a pleasant green lawn with beautiful trees and flowers.

Admission to both the manor and garden require a modest fee.  While you are visiting Kelmscott Manor, you can enjoy envisioning country life in the 19th century and learn more about William Morris and his many contributions to textile art, painting, and literature.  Morris left quite a lasting legacy behind him and had an impact on many artists and writers who followed him.

While you are visiting the manor, you can also visit the shop, where you can purchase tablecloths, stationary, pillows, kitchen cutlery, hangings, rugs, and other household items which carry designs by William Morris.

These mementos are perfect reminders of your Cotswolds vacation, make wonderful gifts, and are unique treasures to be cherished by any fan of William Morris or the Arts and Crafts movement.

 

Holst Birthplace Museum Cheltenham


Gustav Holst Birthplace

Gustav Holst was born in Cheltenham on September 21st, 1874. A well-known classical composer, his famous masterwork “The Planets” has had a lasting impact on modern classical music and soundtrack composition.

Today, fans of Gustav Holst can see the house where he spent his childhood years in Cheltenham. The house was constructed in 1832 and retains its original character, a typical Regency style. The house is not very large, being located downtown, and Holst lived here until 1882. Holst spent his final years in London, where he died on the 25th of May, 1934.

Holst’s childhood home was opened to the public in 1975 as a museum and memorial to the great composer. There are only two birthplace museums in the entire country which stand as memorials to composers, the other belonging to Elgar. While visiting the museum, you can get a feel for life in Cheltenham in the late 19th century and also learn more about Holst’s childhood and the rest of his lifetime.

You will make discoveries about his family and other relationships, including his lifelong friendship with Ralph Vaughn Williams, whom Holst met while attending college. For those who are interested in everyday life in Cheltenham in the late 19th century and those who love the music of Gustav Holst, the Holst Birthplace Museum is a must-see stop on any visit to the Cotswolds.

Gustav Holst Cheltenham

Cotswold Country Park & Beach

Want the perfect family day out in the Cotswolds?

Cotswold Country Park and Beach, located just outside Cirencester, is open year-round, and offers the largest inland beach in the UK with lifeguards on duty for paddling and swimming. This year, we are working closely with local outdoor company Dynamic Pursuits, to increase the amount of fun, water based activities that we have to offer. Some of our new activities for 2013 include: kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, raft building, and various team building activities. As well as these new activities, we are still offering boat hire (pedalo’s and rowing boats), and water zorbing (large hamster balls on the water). Our other activities include; a 9 hole crazy golf course, adventure playgrounds, lakeside walks, and bouncy castles and slides.

Here at Cotswold Country Park and Beach we have seven bookable BBQ’s, including their surrounding areas, appropriate for parties, corporate events, gatherings, and special occasions. There is also an inside heated room, known as Toad Hall, which can be booked for those rainy days.

Cotswold Country Park

So why is Cotswold Country Park and Beach the perfect family day out?

Whether there are four of you, or forty of you, there is something for everyone; even the dogs.

An exciting new addition to the Park this year is our new café, Lakeside Park Café. They have strong principles, and firmly believe that Fairtade, Local and Organic products are the best way forward – so you won’t find any Coke, Mars bars or Walkers Crisps, instead a gorgeous range of tasty offerings. You can visit the Lakeside Park Café for a tasty cake after a lovely lakeside walk, or bring your family out for lunch as you sit and watch the wildlife and activities on the lake. They also offer delicious Marshfield’s Ice Cream, and frozen yoghurts served from the Lakeside Beach Café (located next the beach).

Cotswold Beach Cafe

[author ]For more information about Cotswold Country Park and Beach please contact:

Cotswold Country Park and Beach
Spratsgate Lane,
Shorncote,
Cirencester,
GL7 6DF.

Telephone: 01285 868096

Email: info@watermarkcotswolds.com

or visit their website: http://www.cotswoldcountrypark.co.uk.

Please also contact Dynamic Pursuits for more information:

07580 774953

or visit their website: http://www.dynamicpursuits.com [/author]

Prior Park Gardens

If you are visiting the city of Bath in Somerset and feel a need to get away from the crowds for a while and enjoy the neighboring countryside, you might want to plan an excursion to the Prior Park Landscape Garden.  This 18th century garden was designed by the famous poet Alexander Pope in collaboration with the landscape artist Capability Brown.  Currently it is overseen by the National Trust, and offers visitors access to wide green lawns and sweeping hillsides, beautiful views of the city of Bath, as well as a number of intriguing architectural features.

The most iconic site in the Prior Park Gardens is probably the Palladian Bridge.  The Palladian Bridge was constructed in 1755 by Ralph Allen with some input from both the garden’s creators.  Palladian architecture was quite popular during the 18th century, but this was one of the last Palladian bridges built in England.  The bridge was restored during the 90s to remove river silt and repair damage.  Care was taken however to preserve graffiti left on the bridge clear back in the 18th century, now as historic as the bridge itself.   Other destinations in the park include the beautiful summerhouse, the historic icehouse, and waterfalls from the Serpentine Lake.

Prior Park Gardens Website

Proir Park Gardens

Peto Gardens


The Peto Gardens are located at the Ilford Manor Estate in the idyllic Ilford Valley by the Fromme River in Wiltshire.  The manor itself is a beautiful building constructed out of characteristic golden Cotswold stone with an 18th century façade.  The gardens take their name from Harold Ainsworth Peto, a landscaper who lived in the manor house from 1899 to 1933.  Peto’s beautiful gardens are still a favorite destination for visitors to the Cotswolds today.

Peto’s gardens have a very fanciful look inspired by the gardens of classical civilizations.  Roman columns, statues, and paved walkways lead visitors between shady cypress trees, tranquil pools, delightful terraces, and aromatic wisteria vines.  Visiting the Peto Gardens is like taking in a bit of classical Italy without leaving English shores.  The columns and statues will make you feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time to ancient Rome.  The Romans themselves were past inhabitants of the Ilford Valley, and through Peto’s landscape designs, they have left a lasting mark.  If you are visiting during midsummer, you can enjoy the opera and jazz concert series.  Professional and amateur artists also are invited to play on Sunday afternoons.  The Sunday concerts are free to the public to attend.

Peto Gardens Wiltshire

Snowshill Lavender Fields

Snowshill Lavender Fields One intriguing and beautiful destination in the Cotswolds is the Snowshill Lavender Fields.  You’ll find the farm nearby Snowshill village, located on a hilltop which overlooks the larger market town of Broadway.  The farm includes row upon row of lavender plants—fifty three acres in all.  There are thirty-five different types of lavender planted in the field.  The farm is most attractive in the summertime prior to the harvest (which begins in July and runs through August).  During this time the rows are in bloom, presenting visitors with a bright, beautiful, and boldly colourful sight.

 While you’re visiting the Snowshill farm, you can stroll through the fields at your leisure and enjoy the beautiful sights and scents.  The scent of the lavender is very lovely and atmospheric.  At the farm you can also learn about the harvesting of the plant and the distillation process for making essential oils, as well as the uses of those oils.  Lavender essential oil not only smell wonderful, but also is used in aromatherapy as a relaxation aid which can relieve stress, anxiety, and tension headaches.  Lavender is also great for your hair, which is why it’s included in many shampoos.  You can make a hair rinse using lavender which you can buy at the shop.

At the store, you’ll be able to find pretty much any and every product you can imagine infused with lavender.  In bath products you’ll find lavender hand cleanser, soap, foaming bath soak, body scrub, body wash, bath salts, cleansing face wash, and more.  You’ll also find health products like lavender slumber gel, muscle rub, and massage oil.  House products include drawer liners, room fragrance, linen spray, incense, and candles.  And of course you can buy dried lavender in bulk or a bottle of lavender essential oil.

While you’re visiting the Snowshill Lavender Fields, make sure to stop by the Tea Room where you can try out lavender infused treats like lavender scones or shortbread!  If you come during lunch time you can also have a hot meal of soup and sandwiches.  Recipes for some of these treats are included online so you can make them yourself at home later using cooking lavender which you purchase at the shop.  It’s a great way to take a little piece of the Cotswolds home with you and relieve your memories, as is purchasing any product from the shop.  Smells associate strongly with our memories, so anytime you smell one of the lavender products you purchased at the farm, you’ll be taken right back to your memories of visiting the Cotswolds.

Where should you stay while you’re visiting the farm?  You can find accommodations at the delightful little town of Snowshill, which offers a lovely view of the surrounding countryside, or you might choose instead to stay in Broadway, which is a larger town that includes more attractions than Snowshill itself.  Don’t forget to stop by the Snowshill Manor and the Broadway Tower while you’re in the area.  While the lavender fields can easily take up an afternoon, there are many other things to see and do while you’re in this part of Gloucestershire.

snowshill lavender

William Shakespeares Birthplace

William Shakespeare’s Birthplace is located in Stratford-upon-Avon, a medium-sized market town in Warwickshire in the Cotswolds.   The town is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Theater, one of the most important cultural sites in Britain, operated by the Royal Shakespeare Theater.  Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a delightfully preserved historic building with Tudor-style timber-framed construction.  This is where Shakespeare grew up, imagined, and began his life.  He also lived here for five years with his wife Anne Hathaway.  The house is practically a pilgrimage destination for writers and readers alike and has drawn numerous famous visitors over the years including John Keats, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace isn’t just a house, either—it is a monument of living history and literature.  Throughout the year, actors who are part of the Shakespeare Aloud! troupe of professional actors pose as characters in his plays and recite passages and scenes from his plays in the beautiful gardens.  The Life, Love & Legacy multimedia exhibition draws you into the pages of Shakespeare’s life and explores his life in Stratford-upon-Avon and London.  You can also visit the glover’s workshop.  This was how John Shakespeare, William’s father, supported his family.  The workshop has been recreated to provide even more insight into the day to day lives of Shakespeare’s family.

Nearby you can also visit Anne Hathaway’s family home.  This was the romantic setting with a charming thatched roof and beautiful, blooming gardens where Shakespeare courted his future bride.  The house has been very well preserved and even includes much of the original furniture.  The willow sculpture trail allows you to partake of the beauty of the gardens, while the Say It With Flowers exhibition introduces you to the symbolic language of flowers which was popular for communication during the Elizabethan period.

Another site nearby is Nash’s House, a Tudor building that was named for Tomash Nash, the first husband of Shakespeare’s granddaughter.  Next door is the New Place, which was purchased by William Shakespeare in 1597.  This is the house he purchased when he became wealthy enough to buy a family home.  It’s also where he died in 1616.  These sites include exhibitions and a live archaeological dig, as well as activities for children to learn about history and archaeology.

Two more exciting destinations in town await you.  The first is Arden’s Farm, where Mary Arden, Shakespeare’s mother, grew up.  This is still a working farm where you can observe many activities which were similar to the day-to-day activities Mary Arden participated in when she was growing up.  You can also visit Hall’s croft, the beautiful Jacobean home where Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna lived with her husband, Dr. John Hall.  While you’re in town, you can also enjoy eating and drinking delicious local food at the lovely cafes in Stratford-upon-Avon, which offer views of the historic houses.  If you want to stay the night in town, you’ll also find plenty of options as far as bed and breakfasts and hotels.  Immerse yourself in the historical wonder of Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare’s Birthplace!

williamshakespearbirthplace-