The Cotswolds are fast becoming known as the cutest place to visit in England. And by cute I mean beautiful countryside, charming cottages, and sheep galore! It is the perfect place to stay if you want a quintessential breakaway, this is the Little England so many dream of.
Below are just a few of the most picture-perfect villages you can visit. It is important to note that the Cotswolds covers a large area, spread over multiple counties. Unless you have a week or two, you won’t be able to fit in absolutely every place.
The Slaughters, Gloucestershire
The name doesn’t sound so pretty, does it? This is not a place in which there was any sort of mass slaughter, the name actually comes from the word ‘slough’ meaning ‘wet land’. Once you realise this, the name is pretty fitting. Both villages (Lower and Upper Slaughter) are located on the River Eye, a small tributary to the River Windrush. It is their location on the river that makes these villages so charming.
Upper Slaughter is the smaller and less well known of the two villages, other than a country hotel the village is mainly just homes (beautiful ones at that!). Lower Slaughter is the place you would find on a postcard, with a mill museum, country inn and pub, the village brings in a lot more visitors.
2. Blockley, Gloucestershire
During the eighteenth century when the wool industry was in decline Blockley turned to silk production in order to keep its wealth going. The Blockley Brook ended up powering six silk mills, providing employment for 600 people.
Today, Blockley is a beautiful, typical Cotswold village, although perhaps a little more golden in colour. In the centre of the village is a shop and restaurant where you can enjoy a cream tea or something more substantial. The village itself is of a good size, the only downfall really is the number of parked cars! A negative of many Cotswold villages, remember the houses were built before cars were a thing, so no parking spaces or garages were included in their construction.
3. Castle Combe, Wiltshire
How could I not include probably the most recognisable villages in the Cotswolds? In the opposite direction to Blockley is Castle Combe, a beautiful village in the far south of the Cotswolds, closer to Bath than Oxford. The name of the village comes from the 12th-century castle that once stood 1/3 of a mile to the north. The 14th-century market cross still stands in the centre of the village, dating back to when the village was granted a weekly market.
Today this sleepy village is well and truly on the tourist path, receiving busloads of visitors during the peak summer months. Thankfully some carefully painted double yellow lines mean cars can’t park all over the village, thus offering you a car-free view that wouldn’t be out of place in a picture book. If you want the village to yourself, visit early in the morning, or in winter!
4. Lacock, Wiltshire
Close to Chippenham in Wiltshire is Lacock, a village that looks much the same as it did 200 years ago. With a famous abbey, who’s former resident contributed to the invention of photography, and a selection of independent shops, pubs and eateries, Lacock has become a popular spot for day trippers.
5. Painswick, Gloucestershire
Between Gloucester and Stroud is Painswick, a town which like many others in the area, grew from the wool trade. The village has been built from locally quarried Cotswold Stone, creating a stunning collection of narrow streets.
If you want to see a bit of history, head to the tower of St Mary’s parish church where you can see the scar from two small cannonballs that were created during the first English Civil War of 1642-45.
6. Snowshill, Gloucestershire
Once captured in a scene for Bridget Jones, Snowshill is everything you imagine an English village would be. With a pub, a church, and a grand manor, Snowshill is surrounded by breathtaking British countryside and is home to a handful of golden, chocolate box cottages.
7. Great Tew, Oxfordshire
Relatively new to me, it was only 2019 in that I discovered the pretty village of Great Tew. Situated off the main road, the village is rather quiet, yet home to a very popular pub. The thatched cottages are spread mostly down one street and whilst you do find a few cars parked around, there is a main car park to try and keep the village vehicle free. The village is currently home to Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Beckham’s also own a country pad here, so if you like celeb spotting, this place is your best bet.