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The Cotswolds

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Our first grandchild was born in London, England. It was August of 2020, and as we all would all rather forget, the pandemic was prevalent. We were very concerned about travel and felt leery of being in London so arranged to meet our son, daughter-in-law, and the baby outside of the city. I remember feeling confined in the airplane having to don a mask, sanitize everything we touched and dreaded using the washroom. Interestingly enough, when we got to Heathrow airport, we did not have to engage with anyone. It was totally automated. We escaped with bags in hand and took off to the country.

The Cotswolds – the land of rolling hills and meadows. The predominantly rural landscape contains stone-built villages, towns, stately homes and gardens featuring the local stone (Jurassic limestone). This is England’s largest protected landscape. During the Middle Ages a breed of sheep known as the Cotswold Lion made the area very prosperous in wool trade. 

We stayed in Chipping Campden, home of the Arts and Crafts movement in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire. Campden had become an important collecting point for fleece, later sold to Flemish and Italian clothiers. The town’s architecture reflects its long history, with buildings dating back to the 14th century. I read that there were settlements as far back as the 7th century.

Today, people come to this beautiful town (as we did), for its architectural heritage and landscapes. It was protected by the Campden Trust in the 20’s until and in 1970 most of the town was designated as a Conservation Area. 

The Cotswold Way is a 164 kms walking trail that runs between the town of Chipping Campden and the city of Bath. Most of its length runs on the Cotswold escarpment. It passes through many picturesque villages with beautiful churches and historic houses. The Cotswold Way became the National Trail in May 2007.  We made the most of these trails walking every day with rarely anyone else around.

Photos of the High Street

Built in 1380, the oldest House in town is the Grevel House (below). William Grevel became one of England’s most successful wool merchants. The Woolstaplers Hall on the other side off the street was built in the same century by Robert Calf.

The Town Hall, pictured below, was originally built in 1520.

The 17th century Market Hall was not built for wool trade but rather for produce, eggs, butter, cheese and bread. There is an interesting story I read about this market. It was to be sold and dismantled stone by stone and beam by beam, shipped and re-erected in the United States. The Campden Trust stepped in and bought it to prevent it from leaving the town.

St James Church is in the perpendicular style, a phase of late Gothic architecture in England characterized by vertical lines in stone and known as a wool church which is an English church financed primarily by donations from rich merchants and farmers. 

The weathered slate roofs were made of the Oolitic limestone, each with diminishing sizes of stones as they approached the ridge. 

The highlight of this trip was meeting our beautiful granddaughter, and we were amazed with the ease our daughter-in-law and son had handling parenthood at this time without family nearby.  The experience in a historic and scenic environment was icing on the cake.

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in purchasing any of Rita’s photography you will find her contact information on the right sidebar.

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