Upper Slaughter is a tiny Gloucestershire village 4 miles southwest of Stow-on-the-Wold. It is also very close to Bourton-on-the-Water, Daylesford, and of course Lower Slaughter. Upper Slaughter sits on a grassy hillside just above the River Eye which runs through Lower Slaughter. The name “Slaughter” is derived from the Old English “slough,” which means “muddy land.”
Upper Slaughter was once the site of a Norman Castle, but all that remains today are the ruins of its motte and bailey. The most prominent building standing in Upper Slaughter is the Manor House with its beautiful gabled roof. Parts of the house are as old as the 15th century but the style of the manor is largely Elizabethan. It has been converted into a hotel.
There is a footpath connecting Upper Slaughter to Lower Slaughter a mile away called “Warden’s Way.” Warden’s Way will lead you on a peaceful stroll across several stone bridges over the Eye to the neighboring village. The walk takes about 25 minutes to complete in one direction. Since Lower Slaughter has no accommodations you will want to plan to return to Upper Slaughter for the night, or drive to nearby Stow-on-the-Wold.
Both the Slaughters are small, but they are a secluded and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon in the Cotswolds.
Kingham is a tiny village and parish in Oxfordshire with less than a thousand people. It sits between Chipping Norton and Stow-on-the-Wold, within just several miles of each in the Evenload Valley. Kingham is less well known than the other two villages on the route, but it is no less enchanting. Voted “England’s Favourite Village” of 2006 by Country Life Magazine, its streets are lined with lovely thatched cottages from the 17th and 18th centuries.
There is a railway station a mile from Kingham providing service to and from London Paddington, Oxford, Worcester and Hereford. Many of the Cotswold towns are inaccessible by rail, so this is a very unique and exciting feature.
The town is home to a couple of breathtaking churches. Churchill has a church tower high on a hilltop and visible from quite some distance. It is designed to be a more slender version of another tower in Oxford. St. Andrew, another church in town, was built with a Norman design in the 17th century.
Kingham has two public houses, the Plough and The Wild Rabbit and a single hotel, The Mill House. Either of these pubs is a great place to stop in and have a bite to eat or a refreshing pint of real ale. Since Kingham only offers a single hotel, be sure to reserve your room in advance if you plan to spend the night, or else stay at nearby Stow-on-the-Wold or Chipping Norton.
If you are getting a train to Kingham station it is advisable to book a Taxi in advance, Kingham Taxis
Blockley is a small town in Gloucestershire located just three miles from Moreton in Marsh. This quaint, pictorial town sits on a small hillside beside Blockley Brook, which is a tributary of Knee Brook.
Blockley is an ancient town granted a monastery in AD 855 by King Burgred of Mercia. In the 19th century during the decline of the wool industry, the town turned to silk for its profits. Six silk mills and 600 people were employed in 1884 in the production of silk for ribbon making to be completed in Coventry. Unfortunately within just two decades a levy imposed on imported silk would force this industry too to decline.
Due to its differences in industry and history, Blockley is a bit different in atmosphere from other villages in the northern Cotswolds. Its buildings are hewn from local stone as others are, but here the golden colour of the stone is even more striking and definitive. A lovely village green and Norman Church add to the charm of this delightful town and many peaceful footpaths leading from the village into the surrounding countryside offer a serene diversion on your Cotswolds trip. Being such a small town, Blockley only has several inns – so make your reservations before you arrive!
Lower Slaughter is a tiny hamlet in Gloucestershire located 4 miles from Stow-on-the-Wold, a popular market town. Through the middle of the village flows the River Eye which also passes through neighboring Upper Slaughter. The name “slaughter” comes from the Old English word for muddy land, “slough” or “slothre.”
The most well known attraction in Lower Slaughter is the Old Mill Museum. The Old Mill is located on the west end of town. Constructed in the 18th century, it was used till 1958 after which it was converted into a gift shop and café. Lower Slaughter also has a small but attractive Anglican Church dedicated to St. Mary.
Upper Slaughter is only a mile away from Lower Slaughter and you can walk there in about 25 minutes along the footpath called Warden’s Way which includes several picturesque stone footbridges. This can be a pleasant way to spend some time and see both villages before pressing on with your Cotswold trip. If you have a little more time you can enjoy the mile and a half walk (about 40 minutes) from Lower Slaughter to Bourton-on-the-Water.
While Lower Slaughter contains a number of pretty stone cottages, none of them are open to guests. Since there are no inns in Lower Slaughter you will need to seek accommodation in Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton On The Water or in the Manor House in Upper Slaughter.
Winchcombe is a relatively small Cotswold town with a population of around 4,500. The history of the town is extremely ancient; the Belas Knap Neolithic long barrow on the hilltop just above the city was built in 3000 BC. Winchcombe later served as a prime Anglo-Saxon city and it is believed to be the resting place of the Anglo-Saxon saint St. Kenelm. During the 11th century it was known as Winchombeshire.
Winchcombe is easily accessible by bus from the larger towns of Cheltenham, Broadway and Willersey. Winchcombe also has a reconstructed station and a heritage railway known as the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. You can also reach Winchcombe on foot via six different long distance hiking routes. Among these are the famous Cotswold Way, the Gloucestershire Way, the Wychavon Way, St. Kenelm’s Trail, St. Kenelm’s Way, the Warden’s Way and the Windrush Way. The town hosts a walking festival each year in May.
What historical attractions can you enjoy in Winchcombe?
Sudeley Castle is perhaps the most famous site in Winchcombe. Its oldest portions were erected in the 10th century but most of the castle is Elizabethan in origin. St. Mary’s, the castle’s chapel, contains the remains of Queen Catherine Parr who was the last wife of Henry VIII. She survived him and ruled as regent until Edward was ready to be crowned. Sudeley Castle is not a defunct artifact; people still live there. As such you can only visit during the summer months between March 29th and October 31st. Both general admission to the public areas and private tours of the inner quarters are available and very affordable. The castle is commonly said to be haunted; the paranormal events there are accepted by the occupants and staff as a mundane phenomena. The grounds are as famous as the edifice itself and feature iconic knot gardens.
Another well known site at Winchcombe is Hailes Abbey, constructed by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in 1245. The grounds were a gift from his older brother, Henry VIII. Richard’s son Edmund later obtained a holy relic in Germany, a phial supposedly filled with the blood of Christ (later stated to be the blood of a duck after the Dissolution). The Abbey became a popular destination for pilgrimages which enabled the monks to refurbish the Abbey. It remains a popular destination for tourists today.
Like many other towns in the Cotswolds, Winchcombe takes pride in offering an annual Festival of the Arts and participating in modern culture. The town hosts some quaint shops, bars and tea houses and features a charming high street typical of small English towns. While staying in Winchcombe you can enjoy a cozy bed and breakfast or cottage like Elm’s Farm, Blacksmiths Cottage, Misty View Holiday Cottage or The White Hart Inn.
Winchcombe is a lovely town sure to be of interest to those who appreciate beautiful architecture and grounds and have an interest in history, particularly that surrounding the reign of King Henry VIII. This is a great stop on a walking tour along the Cotswold Way or other long distance foot paths.
Northleach is a small town in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire close to A40 and A429. The town fared well in the wool trade in the 15th century. The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, known as “The Cathedral of the Cotswolds” is testament to the town’s prosperity and is one of the region’s most celebrated and impressive “wool churches.”
The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was constructed on the site of an earlier demolished building which was probably a church as well. The construction began in the 12th century with stone dug out of the area which is now Northleach’s Market Square. The original structure was quite simplistic, containing only an aisle. The other additions like the beautiful chancels, nave, sacristy and further aisles were added on later in the 14th and 15th centuries. The architecture emphasizes the stained glass windows as the main feature of the construction.
Northleach is equipped with many amenities for locals and tourists including three public houses, The Sherborne Arms, The Red Lion Inn and The Wheatsheaf Inn. Northleach also has its own Sports and Social Club, a Snooker and Billiards Club, a variety of art and antique shops, a bakery and a butcher.
The town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire County at the foot of Cleeve Hill, highest of the Cotswold Hills, is a scenic seat of culture and a famous spa resort. Cheltenham is well known for its gorgeous Regency period town houses and their ornate wrought iron balconies. Its Promenade is considered one of the most beautiful and iconic in all of England with its lovely gardens, fashionable restaurants and storefronts. Cheltenham is the birthplace of classical composer Gustav Holst; the town plays host to the International Festival of Literature and Music each year now. It also hosts other popular events like the Gold Cup National Hunt Festival and horse races in Prestbury Park.
The first natural mineral spring in Cheltenham was discovered three centuries ago, leading a local guidebook at the time to proclaim that those visiting the town would be on “a journey of health and pleasure.” Cheltenham’s true fame began in 1788 when King George III decided to undertake such a journey. He stayed five weeks in the town after which it became quite the trendy place – and has remained so to this day!
Cheltenham is considered the best preserved Regency town in England. Its classical terraces and elegantly landscaped lawns attract as many tourists now as they did in the 18th century. The beautiful architecture evokes a classical style and many movies have been filmed in Cheltenham as a result, including Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Vanity Fair and Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone.
Some of the most famous estates in the town are Pittville, Montpellier and Lansdown. The most prominent remaining site is the Pittville Pump Room, based on the design of a Greek temple. The Pump Room encountered difficulties when financing ran out and war tore through the spa town. Fungus and rot were allowed to eat away at the building until 1960, when a restoration effort returned the building to usability. It is now a popular venue for weddings; you can still bathe in the spring waters in the Pittville Pump Room as well!
Not all the buildings in Cheltenham are in the Regency style; some neo-gothic and Arts and Crafts movement buildings also exist in the town, built in the subsequent centuries. The All Saints church in particular is considered one of the finest examples of craftsmanship in later years.
Many famous people have been associated at one time or another with Cheltenham. Lewis Carroll spent time here visiting Alice Liddell, upon whom he based his Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass books. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was born in Cheltenham, and William Morris of the Arts and Crafts movement spent a good deal of time here. Many other famous artists, actors, musicians and poets were born in the towns surrounding Cheltenham and have walked its streets.
Cheltenham continues to function as a spa resort town; there are many spas you can stay at in Cheltenham as well as bed and breakfast manors and other inns and first class luxury hotels. This is a great place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in classic Regency culture!