A triangular region of natural beauty in the west of England edged by the historic cities of Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath. The Fosse Way, a Roman road runs through the middle and remains in use today.
With limestone being the dominant stone, buildings from the middle ages have reflected that local resource. Therefore the colour is unique to this area, albeit each quarry has its shade, each village has a different colour tone. The golden limestone is also the choice of roofing material, sliced into rectangle sheets and nailed to thick oak beams. There are a few locations where straw-thatching is a preferred roofing material, which is satisfying to see. Visitors marvel at the 4,000 miles of stone walls enclosing farmland within the rolling hills. When touring with visitors, I like to suggest a stop at an ancient woollen mill, along with cake and tea by a 500-year-old limestone fireplace, so stress relieving. The region has over 800 square miles of small fields, beautiful churches and micro villages; this is old England.
Six counties share the right to call the Cotswolds their own, and the rivers Thames, Severn and Avon each provide trading routes through the region. The high-end trade-in wool is the origins of local wealth; the source is the Cotswold Lion (Sheep) producing a ball of refined, silky yarn, ideal for clothing. The raw product was particularly popular with Italian traders due to its attributes of warmth, softness, and look.
The proceeds of the wool trade helped fund the many village churches that still exist, the 13th and 14th centuries being a boom time for the area. On approach to each unique village, we catch a glimpse of the modest Norman tower or the beautiful Gothic Lancet window with the sun reacting to the old stained glass. Many village churches are open to visitors, and even a short tour we have time to unlock secrets of its past, discover a knights tomb and marvel at the church craftsmanship.
At the southern tip of the region, near Cirencester sits the Roman Villa of Chedworth. This 2nd-century exhibit to the life of a Roman nobleman is rich in evidence of a luxury lifestyle with its large mosaic floors, hypocaust systems and bathhouse rooms. Combine this stop with a day trip to nearby Bath, for a journey back nearly 2,000 years and see the best-preserved Roman Baths in the world, in the City of Bath.
Lacock Village - a real film set
The name Lacock dates from Saxon times when the earliest permanent settlers lived by the Bide Brook, which runs through the middle of the town. They called it lacuc or 'little stream'. Fans of television and film may decide to visit the historic Lacock Abbey as part of their tour. Its appearances on screen include Harry Potter, Wolf Hall and Pride and Prejudice, the Abbey featured in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Lacock Abbey started as a nunnery, then became a Tudor family home; this was common after the Dissolution-of-the-Monastries (1534-40). The vast confiscated the monastic estates and sold them off at low prices. Religious buildings transformed from places of worship into lavish homes for their new owners. The last owners were the Talbots, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) pioneered a process of creating light-fast permanent photographs, a museum at the house details the history.
We tend to take pub lunches very seriously at Luxury Vacations UK, its great fun to have a couple of lunches while on tour at a proper gastropub, it is a real treat – world-class food without all the fuss. Visiting the Cotswolds for any length of time and not having a pub lunch is just not done.
England's most beautiful and best-preserved villages are within the Cotswolds, notably Castle Combe and Bibury. The preserved modest living of English country folk is in these quaint hidden places. The region remains unspoilt by large towns, and any new building must adopt the original style and scale of yesteryear making the Cotswolds an intriguing place to see. Hotels, pubs, restaurants are of classic style; the Cotswolds leaves modernity behind in most cases. We know all the best places to stay while touring.