Dubbed ‘The Queen of Hilltop Towns’, Malmesbury sits in the Wiltshire countryside in the southeastern Cotswolds. It is the nation’s oldest borough, rich with over a thousand years of history, and a fine Norman abbey rises up to indicate its presence, whilst the elaborate market cross standing proudly in the square is one of the finest in the country. Visit the Abbey, and take a tour of the unique Abbey House Gardens, enjoy a circular stroll around the hilltop town or find out more about Malmesbury in the Althestan Museum. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Cotswolds’ Category
For the first, second and sixth Harry Potter films, Gloucester’s historic cathedral cloisters were transformed into the corridors of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But this isn’t the only reason to book one of our Gloucester holiday cottages!
With a crazy cheese-rolling tradition, the farmer’s markets and a new, multi million pound waterfront, Gloucester is a city well worth spending a little time in. Gloucester’s docks once linked the inland city to the world, providing a flourishing Victorian trade route; 2009 saw the opening of Gloucester Quays, a £400 million new designer outlet retail centre which has given a huge boost to the city’s already appealing shopping experience.
From the most modern to the most ancient – Gloucester cathedral is a magnificent building, displaying beautiful architecture and a wealth of heritage. You may recognise the cloisters, which featured to great effect in the Harry Potter films, whilst the Chapter House, tomb of Edward II and some superb stained glass windows should not be missed. From Harry Potter to Beatrix, the great children’s author’s Tailor of Gloucester story stemmed from a visit to the city; you can visit the museum where displays breathe life into her story. Other museums include the Folk Museum, the City Museum and Art Gallery and the St. Nicholas House, home of the famous pantomime character, Dick Whittington.
Ensure to visit the Blackfriar’s Priory, one of the finest surviving abbeys in England, before taking a stroll along the waterfront. Enjoy a guided cruise to appreciate the importance of this area in past times, or head out to the docklands of the future for some serious shopping at the new Gloucester Quays outlet. Back in town, discover a less glitzy side to ancient Gloucester and join a Ghost Tour of the darker nooks and crannies of this most haunted of towns. Perhaps the stuff of nightmares is nothing more than a little too much cheese; the famous Double Gloucester variety is just one of many local delicacies available at the weekly market or regular Farmer’s markets which showcase some of the region’s best locally farmed produce. Indeed, if you visit in spring, you might just win yourself a block of the famous cheese – the town’s cheese-rolling festival has become an institution, as hundreds hurtle downhill in pursuit of ….large Double Gloucester cheeses.
Beyond Gloucester, the regency town of Cheltenham and its famous racecourse and spa is just a short drive, and the unspoilt Forest of Dean waits to be discovered. Gloucester also makes a good starting point for discovering the pretty neighbouring Cotswolds villages. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, about ten miles from Gloucester, is worth visiting at any time of year, especially in winter when the Arctic visitors arrive.
Why not see the above for yourself and take a look at our Gloucester holiday cottages?
Warwick is a genteel town whose main draw for visitors is one of the country’s finest surviving mediaeval castles. If you’re staying at a Warwick holiday cottage, there is much to see and do. The castle is owned by Madame Tussauds and as such resembles something of a theme park, with special events, concerts and themed days taking place on a regular basis. Inside, the private apartments are filled with waxworks in a recreation of scenes from history. Don’t be surprised to bump into the Prince of Wales, or a young Churchill, as you walk around the Kingmaker exhibition, which showcases a mediaeval household in full swing, whilst there are Kingmaker feasts and Highwayman suppers to allow you taste the full experience. Don’t miss, too, the world’s largest siege machine, a unique reconstruction of a massive mediaeval Trebuchet, which is fired twice daily during the summer season.
Other popular Warwick attractions include the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, with its famous Beauchamp Tower, mediaeval tombs and the ducking stool in the crypt, once used to soak loose-tongued wives… For museums, the Warwickshire Museum is located in the market building dating back to the seventeenth century and has displays on archaeology and natural history, whilst St. John’s House is a lovely Jacobean manor house set in fine gardens, detailing life in Victorian times, and with a play area for young children. See also the Royal Warwickshire Regimental Museum. Other Military museums in town include the Queen’s Hussars and all the pageantry of Warwickshire Yeoman Museum.
The Lord Leycester Hospital is a beautiful former almshouse with lovely gardens, and fine architecture, including a guildhall and chapel dating from the fourteenth century. Just a stone’s throw from the castle, St. Nicholas Park is a good spot for those holidaying with children – there’s an extensive range of sports on offer here, such as a BMX track, boules rink and crazy golf as well as a summer paddling pool and pony rides, tennis courts, and traditional play areas. From pony rides to horse racing, Warwick Racecourse is close the to castle – check your dates and book early for flat racing or steeple chasing on an enjoyable day at the Races.
If you would like to see the above sights and attractions, why not take a look at our Warwick holiday cottages?
UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site Bath sits at the southern-most fringes of the Cotswolds. For anyone thinking about booking a holiday cottage here, Bath offers a wealth of things to see, do and experience, all amid the inspiring architecture of one of the very finest Georgian towns in the country. There are in excess of 5,000 listed buildings in town. Walk the Royal Crescent, an elegant sweep of thirty Georgian houses, which is one of the most enduring images of the Bath. Marvel at the grace and beauty of the eighteenth century Bath Circus and linger in the shops of Pulteney Bridge, redolent of Florence and the Ponte Vecchio, or admire its graceful arches from the city’s best vantage point in nearby Parade Gardens. No visit to Bath would be complete without a trip to the Roman Baths, site of the only hot springs in the country. Walk the hot pavements in the footsteps of our ancestors and gain an understanding of the importance of the healing powers of the springs, or book in advance and enjoy a day of pampering and relaxation at the Thermae Bath Spa, with its indulgent treatments and fabulous open-air pool giving stunning views over the Bath skyline. Stroll among the cloisters of fifteenth century Bath Abbey, or visit one of the town’s many museums. Nearest the Abbey is Sally Lunn’s, a living museum set in Bath’s oldest house, and a great place to replenish energy for sightseeing with one of the famous, sweet Sally Lunn buns. Experience the Regency elegance of the Jane Austen museum, or marvel at the vast collections of shoes, corsets and crinolines on display at the Fashion Museum. Have a go at blowing your own glass at the Bath Aqua Glass theatre, and watch master craftsmen at work hand staining and blowing individual pieces. Art lovers will appreciate the town’s two dedicated museums, Victoria Art Gallery and Holbourne Museum of Art.
Beyond Bath, there is much for the visitor to see. The mellow-stoned villages of the Cotswolds are a joy to discover, rewarding the visitor with traditional shops, picture-postcard pretty scenes and fine country pubs. The Chew Valley in the Mendip Hills is home to ancient stone circles and burial sites, such as the standing stones at Stanton Drew; good walking and Chew Valley lake for fishing, bird-watching and way-marked rambles. In the direction of Bristol, the Avon Valley’s Wildlife and Adventure Park makes for an enjoyable family day out with children of all ages very well catered for. There are animal displays, ball pools, tractor rides, rope bridges, play areas, assault courses, riverside walks, a miniature railway and much more. There are covered and open-air picnic areas, as well as restaurant outlets. Railway enthusiasts will head for the Avon Valley Railway at Bitton, midway between Bath and Bristol, where steam train rides operate on a six-mile stretch of line and can be enjoyed in their own right or used as part of a journey to complete a day rambling or cycling in the Avon Valley.
If you would like to see our choice of self-catering holiday cottages in Stratford Upon Avon after reading this blog, simply click here.
One of the UK’s most visited towns, Stratford upon Avon enjoys a strategic location on the northern edge of the Cotswolds, and the lovely countryside surrounding Shakespeare’s birthplace makes an ideal location for a Cotswolds cottage holiday. The town itself is bursting with history and attractions worthy of a weekend break, and with charming Cotswolds villages, such as Broadway, Moreton in Marsh and Chipping Campden and the historic city of Warwick close by, there is plenty to do and see in the area. Stratford itself can get extremely busy during summer weekends, but off-season is a great time to visit.
The main draw, of course, is the Shakespeare connection, and most visitors start with a tour of the birthplace of England’s greatest playwright and dramatist, and of the other historic buildings associated with him. As well as Shakespeare’s home, visit the residence belonging to Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and the home of his mother. New Place is a fine retirement home bought by the Bard on his return from London, which features a lovely Elizabethan knot garden, while those holidaying with children will enjoy the collection of rare animal breeds at Mary Arden’s House. Another sixteenth century property worth visiting is Harvard House, an intricately carved house once home to the founder of Harvard University.
Other places to see include the Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried, and Hall’s Croft. Attractions in the town include Shakesperience, a high-tech, virtual reality fun study of the life and times of the great Bard, and the unusual and unique Falstaff Experience. Visit by day for a trip into ‘Tudor World’ or by night, if you dare, to experience the ghostly goings on of sixteenth century England. Children will have great fun at the Brass Rubbing Centre, and there’s plenty of opportunity for fun centred on the lovely River Avon, which flows through the town. From picnics and riverside walks, particularly among the gardens surrounding the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, to an afternoon on the water in your own hired rowing boat, a short cruise or maybe even a candle-lit dinner cruise, the river offers a relaxing way to experience the town. Take the children to the Butterfly Farm and Jungle Safari and see the country’s largest collection of vividly coloured butterflies, and when it comes to refreshments, there are teashops and restaurants at every turn. There’s a Friday market each week, and Farmer’s Markets also run once a month. Take a walk with one of the town’s Blue Badge guides and really get under the skin of Stratford, where history is revealed on every street corner.