Cotswolds Towns & Large Villages
The Cotswolds is characterised by its market towns. The region had been made famous due to the wool industry, which started during the medieval period & continued to prosper well into the 1600 & 1700's. The money created from the sale of wool ensured that market towns popped up throughout the region. Beautiful buildings were built to 'show off' the towns prosperity or old buildings were 'faced' with stone to make them look more affluent. (Chipping Campden is a fabulous example of this) Royal Charters had to be provided to towns to allow them to sell items, at this time towns were given the option to utilise the word 'Chipping' which meant 'Market' in 'Old' English. Not all towns adopted the name, as you will see many towns names are already a mouthful ! The Cotswolds also has a selection of 'Wool Churches' where huge money was invested into the local church to 'give thanks' for the commerce from the humble sheep. Stow on the Wold was noted as selling upwards of 20,000 sheep on market days during the peak of the wool industry. Sadly the wool industry feel into decline, with the industrial revolution & alternative or cheaper materials could be sourced from abroad.
Quintessential olde-worlde charm, with fabulous inns, independent shops & friendly locals.
You have reached the Cotswolds!
The Cotswolds covers 6 English counties, Gloucestershire makes up the largest amount, however the border of the Cotswolds dips into Worcestershire, Warwickshire & Oxfordshire, along with Somerset & Wiltshire being located in the South.
With names such as Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold & Moreton in Marsh, you feel as though you are stepping into a children's story. The region forms part of a conservation area, known officially as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'. This has ensured that their are tight restrictions on housing development, tree cutting & rules around restoring properties, all of which ensure the Cotswolds feels as though time has stood still. It wouldn't take much to imagine people popping out of their houses in period dress or seeing a horse drawn carriage along the country lanes.
The Northern Cotswolds is easily accessible by train from the nearby larger cities of Worcester, Oxford & London. With trains running once an hour & often visitors choose to disembark at Moreton in Marsh Railway Station to start their Cotswolds adventure.
Our aim is to delve a little deeper into the towns & larger villages in this section.
If you visit the Cotswolds then you will undoubtedly spend time in a Cotswolds market town, but which one? Well each offers something a little different. Perhaps it is the cute little independent shops you want to explore, our favourites for this would be Stow on the Wold or Broadway . Maybe it's accessibility your after, then Moreton in Marsh with it's train links to London or Hereford would appeal, or Woodstock which is an easy bus ride from Oxford. Or perhaps you have heard of the 'Gateways to the Cotswolds' then you will want to explore Burford or Chipping Norton. If you like the idea of being able to walk to a historic property, then Blenheim Palace is accessible from Woodstock, Sudeley Castle can be reached from Winchcombe or for something a little different, why not visit the Old Prison on the outskirts of Northleach. Now the most famous location in the Cotswolds has to be Bourton on the Water, known as the Venice of the Cotswolds. It isn't a market town, but we have included it on this list due to it's size & facilities available. We hope that which ever town you plan to visit this travel guide will offer you an insight into everything available, along with tips on the must-see things to do at each location.