Gloucestershire is located in the Cotswolds in the southwest of England and encompasses the fertile valley traversed by the River Severn as well as the famous Forest of Dean. It’s a popular tourist destination with lovely old market towns like Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold, Tewkesbury, Tetbury, and Cirencester. Each of these towns has its own charm and historical backdrop, all contained within some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. The county is also the seat of Gloucester, a city of more than 121,000 situated on the shores of the River Severn.
Perhaps the most well known destination in Gloucester is the Gloucester Cathedral. This gothic cathedral was built atop the foundation of an abbey which was dedicated to Saint Peter in the year 681 AD. The cathedral is familiar to many since it was used in three of the Harry Potter films for the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is also the resting place of King Edward II and Walter de Lacy and remains a stunning example of the architecture of medieval England. Throughout the city you’ll also see many other medieval and Tudor constructions.
If you enjoy medieval history you won’t want to miss the Berkeley Castle, located in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. This is a great example of a defensive feudal stronghold. Interestingly enough it was also the castle where Edward II was murdered. Another castle well worth seeing is the Beverston Castle, which is located in the town by the same name. The castle was built by Maurice de Gaunt in 1229 and stands in an attractive and atmospheric garden. This is another good example of defensive architecture and was the site of an important historical battle between King Stephen and Empress Matilda in 1140 AD.
There are many famous manors and country houses scattered throughout the county of Gloucestershire, all exhibiting different periods of architecture, lovely grounds, and intriguing histories. Some of these include the majestic golden walled Dyrham Park estate (used in the filming of a Doctor Who episode last year), the imposing Woodchester Mansion (a popular haunt for ghost hunters), and Stanway House, a large Elizabethan country house with a beautiful fountain.
No trip to the Cotswolds would be complete without spending some time touring the Gloucestershire countryside. The many small towns dotted across the landscape will take you through some of the greenest, most fertile country in England and along the edge of the Forest of Dean. You may want to take a trip on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, a heritage railway which runs for 12 miles between Laverton Halt and Cheltenham Racecourse railway station to take in the views. There are even several fully operational steam locomotives which travel on the railway.
Don’t forget to make your reservations for accommodations in Gloucestershire before you arrive. You probably should plan for a day or two at Gloucester (at least), and then plan for some nights in the market towns throughout the county. Plan to visit some castles, abbeys, and churches to experience the region’s magnificent architectural history. Bed and breakfast establishments throughout the Cotswolds can make you feel right at home.