Whether you want to go back in time to the days of the steam engine, see where kings lived with their queens or get a rare insight into the animal world, Cotswold has it all. Located in the upper part of the southwest region of England, the region occupies an area of approximately 790 square miles and is well known for its stunning countryside, rolling hills, and historic villages. Although the ancient buildings have been redeveloped and fixed up over the years, great care has been taken to preserve their original appeal and form.
The name Cotswold itself says a lot about the region. It is made up of 2 words, “Cots” and “wold”, “Cots” referring to stone sheep shelters and “wold” referring to the rolling hills. The name tells the story of the beauty of the region, as well as the major economic mainstay in region during times gone by.
The rolling hills that slope towards the east are the result of tilting of oolitic limestone, which left a sharp edge on the western side. Farming has been practiced in the area for many centuries and the limestone has been extracted and used to build houses both around the area and as far as Melbourne, Autralia. Many Oxford colleges have also been built using the honey-colored limestone.
The Neolithic people were the first inhabitants in Cotswold before the Romans and Saxons occupied it consecutively. Earlier wool mills were powered by water before the introduction of the steam-powered mills, which were later built closer to coal fields and led to decline of wool weaving.
Cotswold has many tourist attractions that are ideal for both children and adults. Here are a few of the top picks for the area:
Located in Winchcombe, a former Anglo Saxon town, this is where Queen Katherine Parr, King Henry VIII’s last wife, is buried. Different people have occupied the castle over the ages. Its award winning gardens are known to be among the best in England and are definitely worth a look. Visit the medieval ruins and adventure playground, and take a look at the fascinating exhibitions exploring the castle’s history.
Situated between Winchcombe and Broadway, the steam railway still operates from its restored station, covering a thirteen-mile round trip. Besides enjoying the experience of riding in an authentic steam train, the trip provides the opportunity to view the beautiful Cotswold Hills.
Birdland Park and Gardens
The Birdland covers 7 acres of gardens, woodland and river and is home to more than five hundred bird species, including pelicans, penguins, owls, flamingoes and waterfowl. There are play and picnic areas for the whole family to enjoy, as well as a beautiful nature walk through an area filled with marshland, meadows and copses housing many species of wildlife.
Cogges Manor Farm Museum
This special museum depicts the rural Oxfordshire life during the Victorian era. Visitors can wander around the stone farm building and the manor house and learn about the history of the site and what life was like in the area in the late nineteenth century. There are many interactive activities available that are suitable for the whole family.
Besides the attractions listed above, there are many other historic places in Cotswold, including Warwick castle, Blenheim Palace and Jacobean Manor Houses. There are also several interesting villages that have been preserved for more than three hundred years. Described by J.B. Priestley as “the most English and the least spoiled of all our countrysides”, a trip to the Cotwolds is a definite must.