The architecture of Kelmscott Manor is woven into William Morris’s 1890 novel, News from Nowhere, in which a journey exploring utopian ideals in a post-industrial world leads, after much wandering, to a ‘many-gabled old house built by the simple country-folk of the long-past times’. There is no ‘extravagant love of ornament’ here, only a feeling that ‘the house itself and its associations was the ornament of the country life amidst which it had been left stranded from old times’. It is a poignant vision that underlines both a respect for the past and an ideal of a new society based on mutual interest and support.
Today, this old stone-built farm house is best known as the Morrises’ country home, from 1871. First leased as a retreat from busy London life, it became a vital point of reference for Morris, as artist, designer and poet; it was his ‘Heaven on Earth’, and a source of profound emotional and artistic inspiration.
Located amongst the rolling valleys of Pitchcombe and within walking distance of the pretty village of Painswick, is Weavers Mill: A lovely family home with truly breathtaking gardens that lies on the Painswick stream.
From its heyday as a mill, Weavers Mill, in Pitchcombe, has kept intact its original waterwheel and bucolic setting. It comes with beautiful gardens of about one acre, bordered by a stream, and another eight acres of grazing land with spring-fed pond.
The gardens extend both banks of the stream, interjected by bridges and peaceful corners that can be reached by rowing boat, including a small island flanked by a palm tree, providing the most idyllic setting.
The first floor reception rooms make the most of the delightful views, with the breakfast room and connecting conservatory opening up to the glorious gardens. The house also has a range of outbuildings including two garages, sheds and further storage units towards the far end of the grounds.
Not far from Stow-on-the-Wold, the village of Naunton sits in a small valley along the river Windrush. Our travelling companion Herbert Evans didn’t have much to say for the place, but we still certainly found it to be a peaceful spot.
Naunton is a village in Gloucestershire, England. It lies on the River Windrush in the Cotswolds, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Stow-on-the-Wold is about 6 miles to the east.
Temple Guiting is a few miles away from Guiting Power, and has a wonderfully grand church with historical connections to the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar were a Holy Order that many associate with the Crusades. The village is another spectacular hidden gem, a classic English village.
Guiting Power is one of the more famous hidden gems in the Cotswolds, nestling quietly in the English countryside.
The typical Cotswolds village of Guiting Power lies on a tributory of the river Windrush, its russet-coloured houses clustered round a sloping green. The buildings are restored by a self-help housing trust, initially set up for twelve cottages in 1934.
This delightful village is a fascinating example of the unconscious harmony created by Cotswold masons over the centuries. The cottages, shops and inns are all beautifully cared for. The Farmers Arms in the village and the Hollow Bottom Inn on the road leading to Winchcombe form welcome breaks on a number of glorious walks that can be taken in this area – north-westwards to Guiting Woods, south-eastwards down the Windrush Valley to Naunton, or south-westwards to Hawling.
The Potting Shed lies in a north Wiltshire village rather than the Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire territories of the Cotswolds, but it’s most definitely worth driving south for. The focus is all things seasonal and local, and the menu changes monthly to reflect this, as well as the produce from the two-acre garden.
The Sunday roasts are some of the best in the area but it’s also worth trying the main menu – highlights might include a black pudding scotch egg with mustard mayonnaise, a fluffy smoked mackerel pate with sourdough toast or the crispiest beer battered fish and chips. Keep an eye on the specials board for the fish of the day too. The charming Rectory hotel (where you’ll find The Potting Shed’s sister restaurant) is just down the road and is worth spending a night or two, so might as well make a long weekend out of it.
The Lamb Inn, Shipton-Under-Wychwood
With the success of The Bell Inn comes this new pub-with-rooms from the same owners. And it might just be one of the biggest Cotswolds openings of 2021, with bedrooms that are as smart as the menu. Peter Creed and Tom Noest are known for working their magic on derelict country inns that are in desperate need of a facelift. Here they’ve redone the space with a proper standing bar, mismatched picture frames and a large garden out back. The menu is similar to its big sister (devilled kidneys on toast, juicy burgers) but this time with a French twist – escargots and crispy frogs’ legs, bavette-steak tartare with game chips, confit duck frites with zingy aioli. Oh, and a must-order tarte tatin for pudding.
Several miles away from Winchcombe, the lovely village of Brockhampton, with country house Brockhampton Court nestles in the greenery. It’s another classic Cotswold hidden gem.
Brockhampton is a small village east of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, England. It forms part of the parish of Sevenhampton. In the 2001 census the parish had 349 people living in 157 households. The source of the River Coln, a tributary of the Thames, is close to the village.