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10 picture-perfect villages to visit in Oxfordshire, Cotswolds

PUBLISHED: 11:16 09 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:31 13 October 2017

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Nestled in the heart of England, Oxfordshire Cotswolds is steeped in history, culture and beauty. The picture-perfect villages, just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the Oxford city centre, are wonderful to explore. We pick 10 of the prettiest to visit

Aston

The village of Aston is your quintessential English village with the locals’ main amenities centred around the village square (a square that is in fact a triangle!). The village is home to the popular Aston Pottery and the Chimney Meadows – a 250-hectare nature reserve, rich in wildlife, along the banks of the Thames.

Make sure to: Lose yourself in the scenic surroundings along the Thames National Trail path, covered in elegant plants, including meadow foxtail, adder’s tongue-fern and green-winged orchid.

Kingham

For foodies, make a trip to Kingham where you’ll find the award-winning pubs, The Wild Rabbit and Kingham Plough, ideal destinations for locally sourced, seasonal fare and delicious local ales, with both providing a welcoming atmosphere and accommodation if needed.

Make sure to: Once you’ve had your fill, stroll round the village to see the beautiful limestone cottages set upon rolling green lawns the village is famed for.

Minster Lovell

Best known for its medieval ruins of the Minster Lovell Hall, owned by generations of the Lovell family, Minster Lovell is allegedly one of the region’s most haunted villages. Embrace the eeriness that exists at the impressive ancient monument before enjoying a picnic by the pretty River Windrush or taking a stroll through the neighbouring meadows.

Make sure to: The village itself is brimming with pretty Cotswold stone buildings and thatched cottages, and The Old Swan & Minster Mill is perfect if you fancy a relaxing breakaway in luxury or delicious dinner in a picturesque setting.

Bruern

The tiny hamlet and civil parish of Bruern, located roughly six miles from Burford, is a charming and tranquil base for exploring the Oxfordshire towns and villages, and indeed the other fairytale villages that the Cotswolds are known for. Bruern is brimming with an interesting history: an Abbey is recorded at the village as early as 1147!

Make sure to: While in Bruern, the Foxholes Nature Reserve nearby is a beautiful ancient woodland well-known for its primroses, violets and early-purple orchids, and by May, bluebells which carpet the ground. Perfect for a springtime walk!

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Great Rollright

Set high on the hill, with panoramic views across the valley, enjoy a walk round this pretty village with charming period cottages.

Make sure to: Between Great Rollright and its neighbouring village, Little Rollright, you can find the enigmatic Rollright Stones. The magical prehistoric stone circle is a wonder to see.

Swinbrook

Cast your eyes upon the grand stone houses and honey-coloured cottages which sit upon the River Windrush running through Swinbrook. Apparently untouched for generations, it is the typical English village with its stone walls, a pretty church with a wooden pavilion and an idyllic Cotswold pub, The Swan Inn, which sits next to the old stone bridge across the river. The Swan Inn is steeped in history, and you’ll find photographs and monuments nodding to the connections the gastropub had with the famous Mitford sisters.

Make sure to: Make a stop at the tiny parish church where striking 17th-century Fettiplace monuments can be found. Nancy Mitford is also buried in the churchyard.

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Shilton

Arlington Row in Bibury may be known as the most photographed spot in the Cotswolds but the attractive ford across ‘The Shill’ brook, the open village green and gorgeous stone cottages make Shilton a scene you’ll be clamouring to capture a picture of! Shilton’s Church of the Holy Rood, standing proudly above the village, is an impressive structure of Norman architecture to have a look at too. Eagled-eyed Downton Abbey fans may recognise Shilton as many parts of the village were using for filming the much-loved television programme.

Make sure to: For a proper country pub experience, look no further than the Rose & Crown. The historic, local village pub boasts a charming ambience with locals and visitors sitting side and side enjoying an extensive food and drinks menu.

Asthall

Lying in the Windrush Valley, and located six miles west of Witney, the picturesque village of Asthall is bursting in history with traces of a Roman settlement found on the nearby Akeman Street. The Chuch of St. Nicholas dates from before 1160, and through alterations over the years, it’s now a patchwork of architectural styles. Also, Asthall Manor, an Elizabethan manor house made of Cotswold stone was once owned by Lord Redesdale whose daughters were the Mitford sisters.

Make sure to: There are plenty of walking routes in and around the village all encompassing stunning scenery. Why not rest and refuel afterwards at the charming Maytime Inn, nestled in the heart of the village? Dogs are welcome too!

Kelmscott

Described as “heaven on earth” by William Morris, Kelmscott is a beautifully charming village sitting just before the Thames towpath. William Morris’ summer house, Kelmscott Manor, boasts stunning gardens, barns, a dovecote, a peaceful meadow and babbling stream; its beauty provided constant inspiration to his writing. The summer house holds an outstanding collection of his works and possessions for you to have a peek at.

Make sure to: After taking in the culture, enjoy tea and cake in the manor’s tearooms or head to The Plough nearby, with a picturesque pub garden for al fresco dining or roaring log fires in the winter for a warming bite to eat.

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