The birthplace of William Shakespeare, home to the Royal Shakespeare Company and one of the great tourist destinations in England. The town was established as a Romano-British settlement beside the river crossing on the busy Exeter to Lincoln route. In 1086 during the Domesday survey Stratford was a manor house belonging to Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester. In 1196 Richard I granted permission for a weekly market thereby establishing Stratford’s early days as a market town. This instigated the annual Mop Fair on October 12 where local labourers sought employment. The tradesman’s society, the Guild of the Holy Cross, was later formed to promote the crafts and local industries.
During Shakespeare’s time Stratford was home to 1,500 persons and was a bustling centre for the marketing of corn, malt and livestock, as well as being a centre for local government, and proud to foster one of the country’s finest grammar schools. The town’s buildings were predominantly Elizabethan and Jacobean. Today, there are C15 half- timbered buildings on Church Street, and C16 to C17 timber-framed houses in Chapel Street, the High Street and Wood Street plus a number of C18 period buildings of re-frontings with brick and stucco. It is not strictly a Cotswold town, but is included as it lies on the edge of the map, and is worthy of a day’s visit from Broadway, or Chipping Campden.
“Special Places" to Visit:
Butterfly Farm & Jungle
Holy Trinity Church
Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Shakespeare's Birthplace Properties: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Hall’s Croft, Mary Arden’s Farm, New Place and Harvard House.
With a name like this it is bound to attract visitors, and it has, and does so to this day for with its exposed position at the intersection of eight roads, (one being the Fosse Way) Stow has been party to some momentous events in history. The Romans used Stow as an encampment and route centre. The Viking merchants traded down the Fosse Way, but it was the Saxon hill farmers who laid the foundations for the “fleece" which created wealth for the wool merchants who used the great Market Place for sheep sales of 20,000, or more.
The Kings Arms is named after Charles Stuart who stayed here in 1645 before the Battle of Naseby. In March 1646, the Battle of Stow was the last skirmish, or battle of the English Civil War. Stow has a number of historic hostelries, and is thus, an agreeable place in which to succumb to fine ales and wine, and the comfort of a four-poster bed. Today, the town is a busy and pleasing place to be. It still has free parking and you may wander freely about, and admire and visit the art galleries, antique shops, bookshops and delis. ‘Where the wind blows cold’ so the song goes. go-stow.co.uk stowonthewold.info
“Special Places" to Visit:
Parish Church of St Edward the Confessor
Stow Horse Fair
Perhaps the first Cotswold town you’ll visit if heading south along the ancient Fosse Way. And, what an impressive site it is, too. The wide, main street built by the Abbot of Westminster in 1220 for the sheep and arable sales is today a lively scene on market day, every Tuesday since King Charles I granted the town a Charter in 1637. But, its origins go back to the Romans whobuilt a military camp around 43-50 AD whilst planning the construction of the Fosse Way.
It remains the largest town in the North East Wolds and is dominated by the Market Hall built in 1887 by Lord Redesdale, father of the infamous Mitford sisters. Look out for the Curfew Tower, an unusual phenomenon on the corner of Oxford Street, dated 1633, which rung until 1860. A fine centre given to a number of inns, art galleries and independent retailers. Associated with the English Civil War, for the Royalist Cavalry were based here. Just out of town on the Chipping Norton road is the Fire Services’ College and HQ of the Institute of Fire Engineers. Moreton (agricultural & horse) show - 1st Saturday in September.
“Special Places" to Visit:
Bourton House Garden
Cotswold Falconry Centre
John Davies Gallery
Mill Dene Garden
Sezincote House & Garden
The county town of Gloucestershire and its administrative centre is set to the west of the Cotswold Hills, south of the Malvern Hills, and to the east of the Forest of Dean. Originally a port connected to the tidal Bristol Channel and strategic point developed by the Romans into the fort Glevum.
Cotswolds, Chipping Norton
A well situated hill-top town affording spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. Mentioned in the Domesday Book. The new Market Place was built in 1205 and is today surrounded by elegant houses with Georgian facades. But it was the Wool industry established in the C13 that brought wealth to this corner of Oxfordshire and, like so many before them and after, the wealthy merchants invested their coppers in the C15 ‘Wool’ church in order to guarantee a place in heaven.
One of the finest and most affluent towns in the Cotswolds lies Cirencester surrounded by a plethora of attractive villageswhose populace (often second home owners) tend to shop, and hob-knob in Ciren (as the locals call it). The smart shops, and bars, reflect the riches of its patrons.
Is Bath the most beautiful city in England? Many believe so for it is second only to London in the number of visitors it attracts. It will captivate you today, as it has done so down the centuries, from the Romans to Jane Austen, to Robert Southey and the Romantic Poets, to the Rugby aficionados jostling to get into the Recreation Ground.
A smaller version of Bath, often described as ‘the most complete Regency town in England.' Elegant Regency buildings overlook the crescents, squares, tree-lined avenues and spacious parks. Cheltenham remains, in historic terms, a young town of a mere 300-years. It grew as a spaafter George III had approved the waters in 1788.