Stow on the Wold - Travel Guide
Updated: Jun 14
At nearly 800ft Stow on the wold is the highest of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds Market Towns and famous as a centre for antiques. As you will see the town radiates from the market square surrounded by a beautiful selection of buildings. Originally called Stow St Edwards or Edwards Stow after the towns patron saint it is often referred to as Stow on the Wold where the wind blows cold because of this hillside location.
You will see as we walk around many references to the wool trade, Sheep Street is a good example. During its hay day as many as 20,000 sheep would be driven into the market square on sale days. Markets have taken place here since 1107 when Henry 1 granted a royal charter for a weekly market and over time Stow became one of the most flourishing wool markets in the country. Many of the buildings in the market square date back to the 17th and 18th century.
The stone cross in the centre records the significant English Civil war battle which took place in neighbouring Donnington, the last main battle of the English civil war. 200 Royalist soldiers, who support King Charles 1, were slaughtered in the square and over 1500 soldiers were kept prisoner overnight in St Edwards Church. Such was the bloodshed that it is claimed that ducks were seen swimming in the blood giving rise to the name Digbeth St meaning Duck's Bath.
Poor foundations give some of the buildings there leaning appearance a good example of this is ‘the crooked house’ there are many tunnels underneath Stow, this happens to be one of the oldest buildings in Stow on the Wold dating back to the 15th century. This subterranean world has been little investigated but many a house in the Square lays claim to tunnels underground the majority of which have now been bricked up.
Originally on the site of the Scotts of Stow Outdoor Shop, the Court House. there is little resemblance to the original building except for the buttress which is believed to be of 13 / 14thC original. Dating back from Saxon times is the idea of a pledge to keep law and order. The system essentially was 'to lead by example'. There was a goal located in Stow on the Wold, however this building was lost long ago, it would have been located between the Outdoor Shop & the market cross.
Many of the buildings facing the square would earn extra money on market days. Only those properties whose doors fronted the square were able to open up and sell ale and food. So the travellers would know where to look out refreshments, green branches and twigs would be hung above the front door
The stocks sighted on the village green are 15th C the latest in a long line of stocks that have taken up position here.
As you will see the town of stow has many public houses, one of particular interest is the Kings Arms, dating back over 500 years it is believed to have an underground tunnel which leads out of the town towards the village of Maugesbury further down the hill to the Manor House. King Charles 1 is reputed to have stayed the night in the hotel on 8th May 1645 (a year before the last civil war battle).
Another impressive claim of Stow on the Wold is that it has the oldest inn, in England! The Guinness Book of Records 1995 authenticated the claim that this is the oldest Inn in England dating back to 987, it has had many former uses, hospice, a religious house, a private home and an inn. It has a medieval fireplace with marks to ward off evil, known locally as witch’s marks. Formerly called the Eagle and Child being inspired by a local legend of a child that was adopted after being found in an Eagles nest.
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