Saturday, February 6, 2016

#Cotswolds - Exploring the English Countryside #PhotoFriday


Cotswold is an area in the heart of England which is characterized by the quintessential English villages, that are famous for their antique shops, pubs, tea shops, cobbled streets and pretty cottages. The majority of the Cotswold lies in Gloucestershire but it expands to over five other counties: Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, Warwickshire - thus making the task of exploring the entire region impossible in a single visit.

In late December we set out on a short road trip to explore the English countryside and narrowed down the list of towns that we wanted to visit to - Stow-on-the-Wold, Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter, Burton-on-the-Water and Chipping Camden.

If I can describe this trip in one word, it would be 'magical'. I felt as if time had stood still and we had been transported into a storybook. Peeking inside the golden-brown hued stone cottages, all I wanted to do was get in, sit with a huge mug of hot chocolate at the foot of a stool beside the fireplace and read a classic, like perhaps Wuthering Heights which describes the wild landscapes so hauntingly. Sigh!

The word 'Cotswold' is made up of two Anglo-Saxon words - 'cote' meaning sheep, and 'wold' meaning hill. Historically, Cotswold due to its abundance of sheep was a major wool trade center. As a direct result of the richness brought in by the wool trade in the Middle Ages, grand edifices, mansions, 'wool churches' and beautiful stone building were made, all from the locally-quarried limestone, giving the entire area a personality of its own. This ancient charm and personality still remains and we first spotted and fell in love with it in Stow-on-the-Wold.



I was so excited to visit the antique shops and made my first purchase within minutes of entering the first shop, Durham House Antiques Centre - a beautiful green with gold lettering leather bound soft cover book by George Eliot - The Mill on the Floss. 
Durham House Antiques Centre
The next pretty boutique we entered, my eyes popped out as I spotted a 5 book set lying in a corner, of Enid Blyton's Famous Five. I immediately purchased it with a sheepish grin on my face. I couldn't stop beaming at this precious purchase of mine and satisfied I promised hubby that I wouldn't buy anything on the remaining of the trip. And yes, I kept my word.



At the centre of Stow is the St. Edward's Church. Steeped in history, this church has a beautiful wooden door entrance flanked with yew trees on both the sides. What I loved here most was the churchyard, hauntingly serene. It houses memorial of brave soldiers who died fighting for their beliefs in 1646 during the Battle of Stow and also features memorials of those who serviced in both the world wars.




We ended our trip in Stow by clinking beer glasses at Britain's oldest inn, The Porch House that has stood tall in Stow since 947 AD. The interiors were gloriously old and inviting, and we put our feet up and soaked in the warmth for a while, before driving to Swindon where we were staying the next two nights.


The next day we were greeted by the sun but he soon hid behind the clouds as we drove to Upper Slaughter. Lower and Upper Slaughter are two idyllic villages, a mile away from each other, next to the River Ey. Unfortunately, we couldn't spend much time here as we couldn't find a parking space. I left my guys standing by the car, while I took a quick stroll in the area. 10 minutes was it took to walk through Upper Slaughter, that's how tiny it is!

The name 'Slaughter' seems unusual, right? There's a history here too! Well, it has nothing to do with killings of any sort. But there's an ongoing debate whether the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word 'sclostr', which means 'slough' or 'muddy place', or whether the villages have been named 'Slaughter' based on the Slaughter family which owned the 'Lords of the Manor' or Manor House, a prestigious estate (now a hotel) in this area from about 1403 to 1750. Some also argue, that it was the family who borrowed the surname Slaughter from the villages, so who knows?

Another interesting fact I came to know of these villages was that, Upper Slaughter is known as one of England’s 'thankful villages' as remarkably no one from the area had been killed in either the First or Second World Wars.

'Manor House' at the far end of the road



Tip: If you love walking, park your car in Burton-on-the-Water and enjoy a leisurely half an hour walk to the Slaughter villages basking in the smells and sounds of the English countryside.

A few minutes drive and we were in Burton-on-the-Water, often called the 'Little Venice' of the Cotswold.  Burton is perhaps the most touristy of all the Cotswold villages, but also the most scenic with its elegant bridges and emerald landscape. We first had a wholesome English breakfast at Chestnut Tree and then strolled around the village discovering the Cotswolds Perfumery shop, the many antique and boutique shops, and the pretty landscapes.



Chestnut Tree

Cotswold Antiques & Tea Room




From Burton we went to Chipping Campden, my favourite of all the Cotswold villages visited so far. Your typical honey stoned Cotswold village, Chipping took my breath away with its pretty high street and beautiful St James church which dominates the landscape. Again this town was built on the riches earned from wool trade and was one of the finest medieval wool towns famous for its Market Hall. We had a quick refreshing drink at Lygon Arms and then took a leisurely stroll in the village completing it with high tea at Badgers Hall Tea Room.

Lygon Arms


St James Church




Market Hall


Badgers Hall
We couldn't have finished our Cotswold tour without the very English tea and scones. This was a perfect way to bit adieu to Cotswold. We drove back to Swindon and called it an early night and were back in London the following day travelling via Oxford.

A huge shout to our friend Sourjyo, this trip was all the more fun because of you! Love and hugs!



P.S. Linking to Jen's Photo Friday. Congratulations on the 1 year Anniversary of the Photo Friday link-up! Woop Woop! 

29 comments:

  1. The Cotswolds have been on my 'wannavisit' list for a few years but this year is the 950th anniversary of the 1066 Battle of Hastings so we will be visiting Sussex...thank you for sharing your photo's....just makes me want to plan another visit.

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    1. Wow, 950th anniversary! Didn't know that. Have a great trip to Sussex and tell us all about it on your blog. :)

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  2. This was such a delightful read, Aditi. And the photos were perfect. Last year we were living in Worcester. Here in Solihull, we miss the country side charm that Worcester had. I will come back to this post again for sure. :)

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    1. Thanks so much Vinitha. It must have been lovely staying right in the midst of countryside charm. :) Will visit that area someday.

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  3. Indeed magical. From those antique shops to the pack of Enid Blyton books - I am sure your bags and heart was full. I would love to walk on those roads and explore the country side. These things charm me. In Hong Kong as well, we ended up walking all along and exploring the forgotten roads. It was fun! :)

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    1. Oh it such fun, just wandering about in unknown streets and being charmed by the beauty of it all :)
      I am enjoying all your HK travels too, keep writing!

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  4. Those names are enough to make me want to visit. There is nothing old like that where I live in the New World - I've never been off the North American continent. Pinned this for the future. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    1. Ah! The New World is beautiful in its own way and there is mo much diversity, so much to explore, no?

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  5. Wow it looks and sounds amazing. I watch escape to the country and with my dad being from England I really want to visit some day when we can afford it. I loved the Famous Five when I was a child how great that you found such a special find. Tea rooms look inviting too!

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    1. You already have a special connection with England, hope you do get to visit someday. Famous Five, in fact all of Enid Blyton's book were my favourite companions as a child. I was so happy with this find :)

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  6. Ahh...what a treat that was! The pictures and the descriptions brought alive the whole charm of the English countryside. I am so glad you are making the most of your holidays, exploring and adventuring much like the Famous five! Tea and buttered scones....did they taste as good as I think they do?

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    1. Oh yes, tea and scones were divine. The English tea rooms sure have a unique charm of their own.
      We've made it our goal, to travel and explore as much as possible till our time here in London! ;)

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  7. This looks like such a nice place. I really like those purple flowers in the first photo.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie, glad you liked it!

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  8. cotswolds is a beautiful country side... beautiful pictures thanks for sharing

    Bikram's

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  9. Beautiful place, I love it. I'm glad you enjoyed it as I believe it's one of the most beautiful, quintessential places in England. Wonderful pictures.

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    1. Oh yes, it is beautiful. We are surely visiting Cotswold again, with so many more villages to explore :)

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  10. Sounds like a wonderful little retreat. Glad you had such a good time. :)

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    1. We did have a wonderful time. Thank you Shanaya!

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  11. What a beautiful place! You've captured a nice mix of snapshots and great photos - I always find it hard to maintain that balance. BTW - you won the drawing for the Photo Friday 1st anniversary giveaway! I've sent you an email.

    Thank you for sharing with us at Photo Friday!

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    1. Thank you so much Jen! That's such a pleasant surprise. Thank you for building a wonderful community through #PhotoFriday, happy to be a part of it.

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  12. A magical place indeed! Am intrigued about Wool Churches. And history of Slaughter villages is interesting. Great pics as usual. Thanks for a great virtual tour of the English Countryside!

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  13. Must be an awesome experience… simply loved the Cotswolds stone houses and even reading your purchase with the shops there excites. With a name of Slaughter and no one being killed is really consoling fact! Beautiful shots Aditi and good seeing you enjoying yours visits

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  14. Oh yes, that truly looks magical - just feel like flying over and exploring too now:-) Just amazing Aditi dear:-) Hugs

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  15. wowo! the pics are so beautiful. there is something in British architecture that gives a very colonial, very classy appeal. I would love to visit this place!

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  16. Nice picturization of the place Cotswold, specially credit goes to the photos' excellency which express the full landscape authentically... Visit my site for 247 home rescue voucher code
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  17. Nice place. i think your timing was great when take the capture.gardening jobs

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  18. It looks like a beautiful place straight out of classic books. The beautiful English countryside is magical indeed. I have always wanted to shop at an antique shop :D

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