Honey-hued cottages nestled amongst gentle, verdant slopes – the Cotswolds evoke nostalgic images of quintessential England. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this rural idyll surpasses expectations with its delightful villages, genteel tearooms and swathes of grass-green hills. Whilst in some ways it really does feel as though time stands still in the Cotswolds, it also has a wealth of contemporary gastropubs, luxurious boutiques and its own quirky traditions – such as cheese-rolling, wool-sack racing and Morris dancing.
Scenic towns and historic houses in quintessential England
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January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
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Elegant Cheltenham sits to the west of the Cotswolds and is known for its Regency architecture. Famed as a spa resort in the 18th century, the highlights of this cultured town include the graceful Pittville Pump Room (modelled on a columned Athenian temple), the Wilson Art Gallery & Museum (presenting a selection British art & design) and the Holst birthplace (childhood home of the composer Gustav Holst).
This splendid Tudor manor, bathed in history, dates back to the 13th century. A real hidden gem, it is home to a fine collections of Arts and Crafts furnishings and unusual painted textiles. The house is nestled in a wooded, bluebell-filled garden and surrounded by lovely formal terraces which have been long admired.
One of the best known villages in the Cotswolds, Bourton on the Water is also one of the prettiest. The attractions of the village – beyond its warm limestone buildings, the flowing River Windrush and charming bridges – include its eclectic mix of shops, Birdland Parks & Gardens, the Model Village, the Cotswold Motoring Museum and the Dragonfly Maze.
The peaceful manor at Chavenage is home to striking stained glass windows, intricate tapestries and centuries of fascinating tales, and is brought to life by the family who live in the house, as they host the tours. The mellow Cotswold stone of this Elizabethan house glows against the manicured green surroundings, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. Chavenage House has also featured in several film and television productions (most recently the Poldark series).
This enticing little market town is the capital of the Cotswolds, and was an important centre for the wool industry in years past. Testifying to this is the large Market Square with its grand buildings and shaded alleys, the elegant townhouses, and the fine galleries and antique shops that can be found here.
Bustling Burford is a picturesque medieval town on the Windrush River. Its broad High Street sweeps down toward an ancient bridge, and is lined with wonky Tudor buildings. Also worth exploring are the quaint side streets and snug alleyways, down which you can find tearooms, antiques dealers and old public houses.
The picture-postcard village of Bibury, laced snugly along the River Coln, is surely a contender for England’s most beautiful village. The attractive Arlington Row, a terrace of 17th century weavers’ cottages, is as picturesque as it gets.
The second-largest town in the Cotswolds, lovely Tetbury has over 1,000 years of history – much of which can be seen in its curious old buildings. Highlights include the splendid pillared Market Hall, the picturesque Chipping Steps and the Georgian Gothic Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Tetbury has claims to royalty too: it’s the home of HRH The Prince of Wales, who lives on the Highgrove estate.
Hand picked destinations
Secluded along the border between Devon and Cornwall lies the delightful Tamar Valley. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the region is rich in both beauty and history with its own unique heritage.
Within the undulating green hills of Warwickshire lies a wealth of English heritage. This glorious county is famed for being home to the country’s most well-renowned wordsmith, William Shakespeare.
The engaging cities of Bath, Bristol and Wells express three very different personalities. A shared regional pride and penchant for the quirky provide the opportunity for a fantastically diverse itinerary.