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.
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 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.
|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.
|St James Church|
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!