CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Cotswold Voice: Postcode snobbery

PUBLISHED: 10:36 27 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:11 04 May 2016

"We have a Swindon postcode!" the teenager wailed

Archant

‘We have moved from Gloucestershire to Wiltshire,’ the teenager wailed. ‘We have lost our 01285 telephone number. We have a Swindon postcode.’

Seventeen years ago Nigel, my chum in the banking industry, got fed up with working as a Master of the Universe and took early retirement. To make it quite clear he was giving a two-fingered farewell to the City of London he decided to walk the Thames Path from his ex-bank in Aldgate to his new house on the River Coln. He generously asked me if I wished to join him on this 175-mile trek and I did hike with him for some of the way, for I too owned an old barn on the small Cotswold tributary and I too had only recently abandoned the capital.

The Thames is woven into the fabric of every ex-pat Londoner. (As a North London boy the sight of Thames Head pub at Kemble, the source of The River, always makes my heart soar although I can of course never shake off my childhood prejudices about crossing it.)

What I liked about Nigel’s project was that it proved to me that I still lived on The River, for the Coln is one of three small rivers running through our hills that feed into the Thames at Lechlade. Our long walk to our respective homes demonstrated to me that I was still, psychologically at any rate, close to London and I felt then, and sometimes still feel now, more in tune with the capital in my mid-Cotswolds barn than I did or do to anywhere north of the A40, east of Burford (excluding London naturally), west of Andoversford or south of Tetbury.

I know I am not alone in this parochial view. I remember when I first arrived in the Cotswolds I was invited to a drinks party at Farmington, a mile or two north of both Northleach and the mighty A40 that splits our hills in half. An old boy asked where I lived and I replied I was a few miles to the south. “Good Lord,” he expostulated. “I haven’t met anyone living south of the A40 in years. It’s Vale of White Horse hunting country. Best to stick to Heythrop people.”

This gloriously insular view holds true throughout the Cotswolds. Every rural corner of our area has its own distinct identity and yet, not surprisingly, every one of those neighbourhoods is strongly influenced by somewhere with a more dominant populous. Chipping Norton and surrounds, for example, is in the sway of Oxford (and of course still looks to London). South Gloucestershire on the other hand is in the orbit of Bath and the sweep of Bristol. The west Cotswolds has its head turned by Cheltenham and, to a lesser extent, Gloucester and Tewksbury. Chipping Camden and its environs is pulled further north by Stratford-upon-Avon and ultimately by Birmingham. This is demonstrated clearly a few miles north of Moreton-in-Marsh, not only by Midlands redbrick replacing limestone as a building material but also by my FM car radio signal fading from BBC4 before, a mile or two later, returning strongly with some obscure Brummie channel.

And yet a large metropolis does not overshadow the mid-Cotswolds, where I live. Cheltenham is, for example, my nearest town, but the steep escarpment has made it an alien place that is as far as my ilk are concerned somewhere or other in the West Country. Cirencester is our local downtown but its influence (with the exception of Waitrose) in the surrounding backwoods is minimal. In fact, perhaps because we are on the creek that ultimately feeds into London’s Tideway, we are in thrall to the capital of the country rather than the capital of the Cotswolds - or at least it is to the former where most seem to sprint to for their sophistication.

I was reminded of all of the above last month when an old London friend of mine, who had for years been living in a hamlet a mile or two to the north of Cirencester, bought a magnificent 18th century town house a few miles to the south in the Saxon town of Cricklade, which boasts of its situation on the banks of the River Thames.

My friend complained that despite the glory of his new home his son was deeply unhappy about the move. “We have moved from Gloucestershire to Wiltshire,” the teenager wailed. “We have lost our 01285 telephone number. We have a Swindon postcode. And worst of all we are now South of The River.”

I sympathise with the young man. I do, I really do.

• This column by Adam Edwards appears in the May 2016 issue of Cotswold Life. Visit http://www.buyamag.co.uk/Regional-Magazines/Cotswold-Life to buy your copy today.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search