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Thatched House at Chipping Campden

Today, using Moreton-in-Marsh as a base we visited a selection of key local villages.

Bourton on the Water

Bourton has a population of about 3300 and is located in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The village straddles the River Windrush which is spanned by a series of low bridges. Many of the houses are traditional honey-coloured sourced from local Jurassic limestone.

There is a record of the village in AD 714. ‘Bourton’ indicates a fortified place, probably connected to the nearby hill-fort. The affix obviously refers to the River Windrush.

Bourton is well endowed with hotels, tourist accommodation, eateries and unique visitor attractions which include:

  • Birdland.
  • Model Village Exhibition.
  • Model Railway Exhibition.
  • Motor Museum and Toy Collection.
  • Dragonfly Maze.
  • Greystone Nature Reserve.

River Windrush

Kingsbridge Inn

River Windrush

Lower Slaughter

There has been a settlement here for about 1000 years. The name stems from the Old English term for a wet land ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’ (Old English for muddy place) upon which it lies.

Character is due to the quaint limestone cottages lining the banks of the gentle flowing River Eye which is, effectively, the village’s main street.

Tucked away is a former water powered mill which is now a craft-centric visitor attraction. The water wheel still turns, albeit for cosmetic effect.

To complete the classic English ambience, the 13th century St. Mary’s Church with its elegant spire stands close to the river and is normally open to the public.

Cottage Frontage

St Mary’s Parish Church

Former Watermill

Eye stream at Lower Slaughter

Broadway Tower

This is a folly (no functional use) which dates from 1789 and reaches a height of 1024 feet (312 metres), the second highest vantage point in the Cotswolds.

The tower was designed by architect, James Wyatt for the 6th Earl of Coventry who in turn followed a vision of leading landscape designer ‘Capability’ Brown.

The building’s eccentric design has, over the years, inspired a wide variety of occupants including a book and manuscript collector and Arts & Craft Movement members. During military conflicts in the 20th century, the Tower was used as a lookout (for military aircraft).

The local parkland is conducive to hiking and cycling and a small herd of Red Deer can be seen. Restaurant facilities are available on site.

Landscape view from Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower

Chipping Campden

Population is about 2200.

Chipping Campden has a population of 2200 and is well endowed with antique and other specialist shops, hotels, and restaurants.

Early wealth was derived from wool trading in the medieval period. The name is derived from a combination of ceping ( Old English for ‘market’) and camp and denu ( Old English for ‘valley with enclosures’.)

A symbol of the village is the famous Market Hall (above) which dates from 1627. There is also the impressive, perpendicular wool church of  St James. Visitors are attracted by the traditional thatched houses as illustrated in image at head of this post.

In the early 20th century a community of Arts and Crafts specialists (metalworking, jewellery, furniture making, etc.) moved from London and established workshops in the village.

Market Hall, 17th century.

St James Parish Church

Inside St James Church.

War Memorial.

Bay Tree Shop.

Chapel remains at Trinity College.

This morning, from our overnight base in Oxford, we drove into the city centre where we connected with a local guide who escorted us on a walking tour of local sites with emphasis on the famous university and its buildings a summary of which is provided below. This tour was undertaken in temperatures of around 28c/80f.

Oxford is home to thirty-eight colleges attended by twenty three thousand students.

Walking tour of Oxford University

The Radcliffe Camera was designed by James Gibbs in neo-classical style and built in 1737–49 to house the Radcliffe Science Library.

Radcliffe Camera.

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The library holds over 12 million items.

Bodlian Library

Hertford Bridge, aka “the Bridge of Sighs“, is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane.

Bridge of Sighs

The Sheldonian Theatre was built from 1664 to 1669 after a design by Christopher Wren   This building is the official ceremonial hall of the University of Oxford. Some of the ceremonial activities that take place in the Theatre include matriculation, graduation ceremonies, Encaenia and Congregation.

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford.

Trinity College was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope, on land previously occupied by Durham College, home to Benedictine monks from Durham Cathedral.

Trinity College, Oxford.

Dining Room at Balliol College.

Balliol College, founded in 1263. Home of students such as the moral philosopher, Adam Smith, and three former British Prime Ministers

Balliol College, Oxford.

The Oxford Martyrs were Protestants tried for heresy in 1555 and burnt at the stake  for their religious beliefs and teachings, during the Marian persecution in England.

The three martyrs were the Anglican bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Place of martyrs’ execution, Broad Street, Oxford.

The Ashmolean Museum on Beaumont Street is the world’s first university museum. Its first building was erected in 1678–83 to house the cabinet of curiosities that Elias Ashmole gave to the University of Oxford in 1677.

Ashmoleum Museum.

The 5-star Macdonald Randolph Hotel is 150-years-old and ranks as one of the premier hotels in Oxford.

MacDonald Randolph Hotel.

St. John’s College was founded as a men’s college in 1555, it has been coeducational since 1979.

St John’s College

After about four hours in Oxford we moved on towards our lodgings for the night at Moreton-in-the-Marsh stopping en-route at the popular town of Stow-on-the-Wold.

Information on Stow-on-the-Wold

This hill-top town and sits on an elevation of 800 feet is popular with tourists. Here can be found a wide range of small shops including those selling antiques. The town may date from a prehistoric fortified settlement on top of the hill. The Roman Fosse Way from Cirencester to Leicester passes through it, although the town is mostly off to one side, in the tradition of unplanned towns in the locality.

The Market Square is large and surrounded by houses, shops and inns all built in the local stone with a tradition going back lover many centuries.

St Edward’s Church is located in the centre of the town.This building was used as a prison for defeated Royalist soldiers who fought at the nearby Battle of Donnington in 1646.

Street Scene, Stow-on-the-Wold

Market Square, Stow-on-the-Wold

St Edward’s Church.

Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey

This morning, we departed our lodgings in Bath and drove east to our next destination of sites connected with Highclere castle of Downton Abbey fame.

First, we visited St Mary’s Church at Brampton which did feature in some scenes of the T.V. series and then moved on to nearby Highclere where we spent most of afternoon (in temperatures of around 30c/85f).

Summary information on Highclere Castle:

  • Records of the site date back to 749.
  • A high status residence on the site from the 1370s.
  • House rebuilt 1774-6 with further work undertaken in 1820s, 1838-50 and 1850s.
  • Refurbished and opened to the public in 1988.
  • Stewardship of the property inherited by the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.
  • Interior rooms include entrance hall, library, music room, drawing room, smoking room, morning room, red staircase, gallery, gallery bedrooms, oak staircase, dining room and the *Egyptian exhibition.

(*Lord Carnarvon of Highclere financed excavation in Egypt which culminated in the discovery of the tomb of the Pharoah Tutankhamun (1332-1323 BC) in 1922 although he (Lord Carnarvon) subsequently died on April 5th 1923.)

Interior of St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Church, Brampton

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Jackdaws Castle, a folly

Gardens at Highclere Castle

Gardens at Highclere Castle

In the evening we availed of dinner with guests’ friends at a superb riverside restaurant (River Thames) at Moulsford.

Sculling on River Thames.