Towns and Villages - J-Z
5 miles south-west of Cirencester and best known for its railway station on the main London line, itself now a fine and listed example of a country junction station. The heart of the village around the church retains its rural atmosphere. Nearby Ewen is on the upper reaches of the still-infant Thames.
Large village close to Fairford and alongside the River Thames, which is on the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire county boundary. At one end the large and impressive St Mary’s church. John of Gaunt, son of Edward III and lord of the manor is credited with building the tower between 1386 and 1399.
Another well known railway station and former junction on the Oxford-Worcester Cotswold Line, and in the valley of the Evenlode. The large village is a mile away, attractively grouped around its church and a green.
In true upper Thames valley open countryside, the village stands along and back from the road (which is itself now by-passed). Turn at the simple by elegant village cross to explore the one street leading to the church and then away into the fields. The restored towpath of the nearby Thames and Severn Canal provides an excellent way to explore this region.
Leigh – see Ashton Keynes
Little Compton – see The Comptons
Little Rissington – see The Rissingtons
Little Wolford – see Todenham
Well-sited on the hill slopes above the Evenlode valley just north of Stow-on-the-Wold. Quite a large village and the source of one of the original Cotswold Morris Dancing traditions.
Lower Oddington – see Oddington
Lower Quinton – see Upper Quinton
The village of Lower Slaughter lies half a mile to the west of the A429 (the old Roman Fosse Way) some 17 miles north of Cirencester. It is a Conservation village in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is some difference of opinion about the origins of the name Slaughter but it is generally accepted as being derived from the Anglo Saxon word “sclostre” (slough) meaning a hollow, muddy place. Considered to be one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds and probably one of the most photographed, it attracts visitors from all parts of the world. The village has been used frequently as the setting for both commercial and fictional film and television productions. Artists are to be seen regularly either painting scenes of the village or displaying their wares during the summer months at the frequent artist’s exhibitions held in the recently restored village hall. The village has on several occasions won the competition for the best-kept small village in Gloucestershire
By comparison with some of its neighbouring villages it is relatively small comprising 90 houses and approximately 200 residents. The main features of the village are the honey coloured Cotswold stone houses nestling alongside the river Eye, some “listed” and dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the 13th century Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The church was rebuilt in 1866 but with a very recently restored spire and peal of six bells. An early 19th century corn mill, two imposing hotels, one converted from the 15th century former Lower Slaughter Manor House, the other from 17th century cottages all contribute to the charm of this idyllic village. The shallow river is lined with well-kept grass banks and trees and is crossed by several attractive footbridges as well as a road bridge. In a corner of the grounds of the Manor Hotel stands a 16th century gabled pigeon loft, reputed to be the largest in Gloucestershire. The village stands at the cross roads of several long distance footpaths and is a frequent starting point for walkers, although car parking in the village is very limited.
The village is administered at the local level by the Lower Slaughter Parish Council consisting of 5 elected representatives from the village and, at district level, by Cotswold District Council based in Cirencester.. Also see The Slaughters
Market town built on a hill in a bend of the river Avon (the Wiltshire one). A Saxon settlement with a distinguished history, claiming to be the oldest boroughs in England. Medieval defences and street plan, with a large open market place and a 15th century market cross. Magnificent abbey, even though what remains is little more than nave and porch of its medieval predecessor. Georgian houses line the streets around the town centre.
Just outside Stow-on-the-Wold and a little down the hill off the Fosse Way, this older hamlet is self-contained, looking over the valley to Icomb Hill. There are no less than six fine 17th century farmhouses.
Between Fairford and Cirencester and another Cotswold village grouped around its village green. Look for the unusual water pump on its stone base, complete with a flight of steps. Down the lane is St Mary’s Church with good 13th/14th century detail. The village has some well-preserved stone farmhouses.
Mickleton is 3 miles north of Chipping Campden on the Stratford road. Here are thatched as well as stone houses. On the hills to the east are two fine gardens: Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court, which attract thousands of visitors each year.
Middle Duntisbourne – see The Duntisbournes
A small town with a long history on the hills above Stroud, with the extensive 580 acre Common to the west. Fine views all around, especially into the Golden and Nailsworth Valleys. In the days before mechanisation, this was a centre for woollen cloth production using domestic hand looms. The Market House of 1698 is a reminder.
Together with Edgeworth just down the road, this is attractive and wooded countryside above the western valleys of the Cotswolds. This small village surrounding the church, its manor house a little distance away and high above the valley of the Frome. Edgeworth is scattered around the hillside and Sudgrove is a farming hamlet between the two.
A mini-version of Stroud, where several valleys meet. The town hugs the hills around and fills the valley bottom, providing hidden places to explore. Seek out the old mill buildings, now converted to a variety of uses and some fine merchants’ houses. Well placed for access to Tetbury, the south Cotswolds and Bath.
The river Windrush flows through the village and its water meadows, making it as picturesque as any of its neighbours in the hills between Stow and Cheltenham. Mentioned in the Domesday as Niwetone. Climb the hill for a really good view of church and village.
Nether Westcote – see The Westcotes
A small village situated mid-way between Cirencester and Malmesbury close to the Cotswold Water Park. Oaksey Woods and the unique, organic meadows nearby, provide year-round pleasure for walkers and nature-lovers. All Saints Church dates from the 13th century and is particularly notable for its 14th century wall paintings.
There are two – Upper and Lower – just off the A436 east of Stow. Together they make a long and attractive village with an isolated but much-loved old church half a mile down the track to Bledington Heath. Inside, marvel at the enormous Day of Judgement wall-painting from the early 15th century, and the splendid pulpit and fittings – a wonderful interior, straight out of an earlier age.
Manor House, church, farm and a few cottages make up this small community almost literally below the hills of the steep-sided valleys south and west of Stroud. The House is open to visitors, a charming example of Cotswold vernacular, almost relishing its isolation.
Important historic city renowned for its cultural diversity and a breathtaking skyline of dreaming spires. A mecca for visitors, attracted by the Colleges, Botanic Gardens and museums. Avoid parking problems by using the well-organised ‘Park and Ride’ system, the bus or the train services.
One of the gems of the Cotswolds and really a small town on the Stroud to Cheltenham road. Seen from the hills to the east, Painswick sits perfectly on its hill-slope, the elegant church spire a commanding feature. Nearby Edge enjoys a similar situation. The wool trade made the town wealthy, as with so many other Cotswold communities. Painswick Beacon is at the centre of 250 acres of common recreation land.
Small community in the Churn Valley to the north of Cirencester, well located for easy access from the Gloucester and Cheltenham roads.
Poole Keynes – see Ashton Keynes
Between Cirencester and Fairford, the village is in an open farming landscape with long views across the fields. A small village green adjoins the main road outside the village pub. St Michael’s is a good Victorian church by Butterfield of 1873/4. Ready Token is a small community at the meeting of several minor roads, and named after an inn where ready cash, or tokens, were required.
Tiny village, 1 mile south east of Cirencester. The small church has a 14th century triple bellcote and cylindrical Norman font.
Out of sight from the Cirencester to Cheltenham road in the Churn valley below, Rendcomb enjoys the seclusion of a village off the main road. Its major feature is Rendcomb College, founded by the Wills family in 1920 around the imposing Victorian house built in 1867 for the Goldsmid banking family. The grounds are well landscaped and incorporate St Peter’s church, a fine example of 16th century rebuilding in the Perpendicular style, typically Cotswold. Down the valley towards Cirencester is North Cerney, also set back off the road but with a perfectly-sited church in the valley.
Once there were three, now there are four: the new village of Upper Rissington emerging from the former Little Rissington RAF base along the hilltop between Windrush and Evenlode valleys. Great and Little Rissington are good vernacular Cotswold on the hillside with some fine cottages and farmhouses. Wyck Rissington on the Oxfordshire Way enjoys a large open central green and a church where the composer Gustav Holst was organist a century ago.
An estate village between Cirencester and Tetbury, and focused on the Manor, the last flowering of the Cotswold Arts and Crafts Movement. Built between 1909-26 in meticulous detail, the house is open to visitors in summer months.
Another Cotswold estate village, now largely owned by the National Trust. Sherborne Park dominates, the house now converted into apartments, the parkland accessible to visitors. Almost part of the house is the church with some fine memorials to the Duttons, who spent their wealth in this valley just east of Northleach.
Shipton Oliffe and Solers
Really just one village, tucked away from the nearby A40 west of Northleach. An historic settlement with two churches, two manor houses and farms.
Reputed to be the smallest village in Gloucestershire, Shorncote is 3 miles from Cirencester and a short walk from the Cotswold Water Park.
Virtually a southern suburb of Cirencester, but still with its own character. Seek out the old locks of the Thames and Severn Canal and wander the towpath. The tall spire of St Peters acts as a focal point.
Upper and Lower Slaughter share a fascinating name, which derives from ‘miry place’ which it certainly isn’t now! The link (and the fascination) is the tiny river Eye, tributary to the nearby Windrush. Lower Slaughter is just off the Fosse Way and very conservation-minded: a wander alongside the stream seems like a privilege. People actually live here! Upper Slaughter is equally attractive, alongside the stream and amongst its old cottages and farmhouses.
This charming and unspoilt village is a short distance by car from Broadway. There is a striking church and a row of much photographed cottages. Opposite is Snowshill Manor, given to the National Trust by its eccentric owner Charles Paget Wade and filled with the spoils of a lifetime of collecting.
A large village conveniently placed for access to Cirencester 4 miles away and the nearby Cotswold Water Park, over 30 square miles of lakes zoned for specific forms of recreation. Here you can be active or passive, lively or contemplative. Visit All Hallows church during your stay and walk along Bow-Wow – it’s as good as its name!
Forever associated with Shakespeare, on whose memory most of the town’s tourism attractions are based. In fact, there is much more including some fine timber-framed houses and pleasant riverside walks alongside the Avon. But Shakespeare dominates, and why not?
4 miles north of Moreton-in-Marsh and as its name implies alongside the Fosse Way. A good base, in gently rolling countryside, for exploring the north Cotswolds and south Warwickshire.
Built on steep slopes at the junction of five valleys, this busy market town has retained considerable character despite the industrialisation in the late 18th and 19th centuries. At the height of its prosperity, there were at least 150 cloth mills in the valleys centred upon Stroud. Many light industries have replaced most of these, and Stroud and its surrounding countryside continue to thrive.
Sudgrove – see Miserden
Upper and Lower Swell are on the banks of the river Dikler, down the hill 1 mile west of Stow-on-the-Wold. Lower Swell is grouped around its triangular village green with a war memorial by Lutyens. Upper Swell on the Broadway road has an old water mill.
Small village situated in the Windrush Valley. The church has a fine 18th century tower and Georgian classical windows. Good walks through the wooded valley.
On by-roads in the countryside between Moreton-in-Marsh and Shipston, the village remains remarkably unspoilt with a dignified manor house and a fine tower and octagonal spire to the church. Nearby Great Wolford and Little Wolford are equally attractive, one has a tall church spire as a landmark and the other a fine 16th century manor house.
2 miles north of Northleach, this small village is pleasantly sited on a hillside, with the hamlet of Lower Dean in the valley below. A glance at the Ordnance Survey Landranger sheet 163 will indicate a good circular walk from Turkdean, taking in the village of Notgove.
Upper Oddington – see Oddington
Upper and Lower Quinton
These twin villages nestle below Meon Hill, the last outcrop of the Cotswold range. Good views from the top of Meon Hill on a clear day across the Vale of Evesham as far as the Malvern Hills. The church, with its tall steeple, is dedicated to St Swithen, and is a landmark for miles around and represents many styles of architecture.
Upper Swell – see The Swells
Welford on Avon
To be found not surprisingly in a bend of the river Avon and a few miles west of Stratford. Timber-framed and brick cottages, many thatched, stand around the green with its tall maypole, a rarity these days.
On the ridge route between Stow and Burford but secluded from the main A424 road, seek out Church Westcote and Nether Westcote. Good views across the Evenlode valley. Small church of St Mary.
Home of the National Arboretum – the finest collection of trees and shrubs in Europe spread throughout 600 acres of glorious Cotswold countryside.
Together with Aston-sub-Edge, lies below the escarpment on the edge of Evesham Vale near Broadway. Fine 17th century stone farmhouses and cottages around the square and up the hill. At Aston an impressive old manor house and an interesting little church.
5 miles north of Chipping Norton and in rolling hill country, the village has a wide green and attractive old buildings. Open the church door for the sense of history within. The hamlet of Ascott is nearby.
Willersey – see Broadway
Largely unspoilt market town with a long history serving the countryside around. Market place and town centre streets are well worth a wander; visit the Town Hall right in the centre with its museums. The enormously influential Winchcombe Abbey has now gone, but the fine Perpendicular wool church of St Peter’s remains – look out for its collection of gargoyles. Nearby is Sudeley Castle with its own impressive history. Up on the hill is tiny Farmcote with some of the best views from the Cotswold scarp and a small and simple chapel-church.
Large village on the river Coln with six converging lanes, making for an almost secret layout amongst the trees. The church attracts attention – there has been a building here since the late 7th century. Good walks, including parts of the old railway line, now alas nothing more than a memory.
Amongst the broken Cotswold hills just north of Cheltenham, the village is small and has a pleasant mix of stone and timber-framed houses. A peaceful setting for exploring the region.
Cotswold District Council, Trinity Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 1PX
Telephone: 01285 623 000