Bibury is located 6 miles north east of the Roman City of Cirencester. William Morris, the famous British textile designer, author & poet described Bibury as 'The most beautiful village in England'. Set alongside the River Colne the Bibury & it's immediate neighbour Arlington are visited by thousands of people every year. Mainly for the beautiful row of cottages, owned by the National Trust 'Arlington Row'. We would advise anyone wishing to explore to try to visit early in the morning or late in the evening during the summer months to avoid the numerous coaches that become a common sight in this tiny location.
First check out the Swan Hotel & the tiny nearby (windowless) building, this was the village 'lock-up', where in years gone by naughty locals would be housed before punishment was decided. Opposite The Swan you will glimpse the local Trout Farm & even may spot trout which have escaped swimming in the crystal clear waters of the village river.
Next to the Trout Farm is the tall building of Arlington Mill, in previous years this housed a museum but now is a private home, a local folk tale is associated with the building (described below).
You can not miss the large expanse of the grassland in the centre with Arlington Row cottages in the distance that date back to 1380. This water meadow is managed by the National Trust & called 'Rack Isle'. Rack Isle looks picturesque now, however in years gone by it was very much part of the day to day activities of the locals. As the name suggests the island contained racks or 'tenter' frames/stretchers that the weavers (from the cottages) would stretch & dry the woven material, using hooks to pull & secure the material. By the mid-18th century & still common today, the phrase 'on tenterhooks' came to mean being in a state of tension, suspense or anxiety. Essentially you were stretched to capacity or breaking point. Wander on past the cottages & you will find yourself in a quiet square with a pleasant assortment of buildings dating to the 1600-1700's. The village church of St Mary's is located here, as you would imagine it provides a peaceful retreat & calming embrace, the building dates back to Anglo-Saxon times.
There is a local legend connected to Bibury & the old water mill. As the story goes a wealthy man moved to Bibury to run the mill. He had three grown up sons, but had recently been widowed. Once he had settled in to the Mill, he looked round for a new wife. He set his sights on a young woman called Mary, Mary was not keen on the marriage but her parents thought they would make a good match. Mary would marry a wealthy man & have a position in the village. So the marriage took place & Mary moved into the Mill. The Mill owner would regularly have to go away on business trips & it wasn’t long before Mary & the oldest son of the mill owner fell in love. One winter evening the Mill owner returned home, earlier than expected to find his young wife & oldest son in a rather awkward situation. Outraged he through his son in to the mill pond, where it is said that he drowned & he locked Mary out to teach her a lesson. The following morning he went in search for Mary, only to find that she was frozen to death at the side of the mill pond. It is said that Mary still haunts Bibury on cold wintery mornings.