<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Cotswold Life today click here

A postcard from Moreton-in-Marsh

PUBLISHED: 16:12 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:12 27 February 2018



Tracy Spiers

It’s bustling, beautiful and it is a brilliant haunt for hobbit enthusiasts, history lovers and those who want an excuse to return to childhood. Moreton-in-Marsh has a timeless charm, a tremendous sense of place whilst offering the modern-day comforts, delicious choice of artisan foods, coffees and a unique shopping experience. I took my dear friend Siobhan Adam to discover the delights that make Moreton-in-Marsh what it is

• Parking is free in Moreton-in-Marsh, which is a great plus for any visitor, and we pull up opposite The Cotswold Cheese Company in the town’s long High Street. Siobhan makes a beeline for the cheese counter where shop manager Nicola Buckles gives her a sample of cheese of the month, Isle of Avalon. It’s a strong, smelly, creamy cheese with a flavour reminiscent of smoked bacon. Meanwhile I’m in olive heaven and enjoy the pitted Vinci olives marinated with mushrooms, sweet peppers and garlic dressed in herbs and paprika oil. Here you can also pick your own oils and dressings.

Tracy in olive heaven at The Cotswold Cheese Company Tracy in olive heaven at The Cotswold Cheese Company

• Famous for many years for antiques, and visited by dealers, collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world, Moreton is still popular for its bounty of treasure whether it is jewellery, china, collectables or furniture. Siobhan and I enjoy a browse in London House Antiques Centre, a well-established antiques centre, where we meet one of the dealers Brian Walkley, who specialises in Doulton Lambeth, Royal Doulton, Doulton figures, Royal Worcester, Royal Crown Derby and good quality small antique furniture. Brian has been here 30 years and I ask him how Moreton has altered in that time. “It hasn’t changed much really which is one of the good things about this town. It has preserved its character and charm,” he says. Before we leave, a couple of Trench Art planes catch Siobhan’s eye. Both our grandfathers took to the skies during World War II.

Brian Walkley, one of the dealers at London House Antiques Ltd Brian Walkley, one of the dealers at London House Antiques Ltd

• The link to planes is a strong one for Moreton. During WWII, an airfield – now the site of the Fire Service College – was used as one of many flight training stations. Although no longer used, the original runways are still in place. To find out more about Moreton’s RAF history visit Wellington Aviation Museum in Broadway Road, which is open on Sundays.

Wellington Aviation Museum Wellington Aviation Museum

• While we’re talking history, Moreton-in-Marsh is an ancient site, dating back to the Saxon era. For 12 centuries, the Four Shire Stone has marked the meeting place of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. The town’s name in a nutshell means a settlement upon which wild birds nest and originally Marsh was Henmarsh, which later became in. Located on the Fosse Way Roman road, it was a planned market town of the 13th century and its long and wide high street is full of independent shops, art galleries and eateries where you are guaranteed the personal service.

• One such shop which is a personal favourite in my household is The Toy Shop, which has been in Moreton for over 50 years. Being a big kid at heart like myself, Siobhan joins me as we enter this wonderful labyrinth of nine rooms full of puzzles, toys, games and everything to do with play. We can’t resist reminiscing, picking up play food, bricks, puppets and generally thrilled to be able to take off our mother hats and be the child again. Brother and sister Paul and Helen Jeffrey grew up with this enchanted toy shop, which their parents ran while they lived upstairs. Today they still live here and love seeing familiar faces. “It was magical growing up here and there is a real sense of memories especially when we see generations coming back. Children who came in for toys when we were younger are now coming back with their own children,” Helen tells us. Paul’s three-year-old son Jack is enjoying the same childhood experience. “He is good toy worker and toy taster. What people like is the fact that we demonstrate what the toys do and they can have a go. Some people drive over 50 years to come here.” I can’t resist buying a Paddington spoon and a Maisy Mouse cup or testing out the magic of ultra violet putty, which is a hit amongst today’s youngsters.

Siobhan and Tracy return to their childhood at The Toy Shop Siobhan and Tracy return to their childhood at The Toy Shop

• We visit on a Wednesday, but if you want to see Moreton in market mode, the day to come is Tuesday. It’s the largest open-air market in the Cotswolds with more than 200 stalls selling virtually anything from books, leather goods, clothing, fish and fresh produce. The town was granted its market charter in 1227.

• Being the inquisitive sort, I am intrigued to know what other historic facts I can find. Sarah Clemo, who is Senior Customer Services Assistant at Moreton Area Centre Visitor Information Centre, gives us a map and a few landmarks to look out for. “I love Moreton because it’s a great community. It’s a bustling town, has good services – we have just had a new Aldi – and it isn’t too touristy which works for both the locals and the tourists,’ she tells us.

• Needing an excuse to stop for coffee and digest the information, we opt for a comfy sofa in Victoria’s Coffee House, a dog-friendly and buggy-friendly home-from-home café which proves excellent on the comfort and culinary front. The cranberry, date and walnut flapjack is delicious. Moreton has a great menu of coffee and tea shops so café culture is a high priority here. There are plenty of inns, restaurants and hotels too and food buffs can eat round the world if they so choose.

Coffee and cake break at Victoria's Coffee House Coffee and cake break at Victoria's Coffee House

• While we munch, we read up about the town’s Tolkien links. The Four Shires Stone, the Rollright Stones and the Bell Inn apparently inspired JRR Tolkien’s Three Farthing Stone, the Barrow Downs and the Prancing Pony in Lord of the Rings. The author visited the town many times on his regular trips from Oxford. Other famous visitors include King Charles I who stayed at the White Hart Royal Hotel during the English Civil War and didn’t pay his bill!

The Bell Inn blue plaque The Bell Inn blue plaque

• Heading back outside, Siobhan and I hunt for key landmarks. The honey-coloured limestone architecture is impressive and we spot the 16th century Curfew Tower, also once used as a local lock-up. On the building is a replica board of the toll charges made in 1905. Adjacent to this is the Mann Institute, established in 1891 by Edith Mann in memory of her father John, a congregation church minister. Other notable buildings include the Redesdale Arms, a 17th century coaching inn and the Redesdale Hall, the town hall, both named in honour of Lord Redesdale, a major benefactor to Moreton. The hall was a subject for painter LS Lowry who visited the Cotswolds in the 1940s. His painting, now part of a private collection, once belonged to Sir Elton John who bought as a souvenir when visiting on a day trip to celebrate the launch of his Rocket record company in 1972.

The old toll charges at The Curfew Tower The old toll charges at The Curfew Tower

• Connected to Redesdale is the famous Mitford sisters, granddaughters of Algernon Bertram Mitford, the first Lord Redesdale. Nancy wrote Love in a Cold Climate, first published in 1949 and adapted and filmed by the BBC on location at Batsford Park –the Mitford family’s home. It’s here you will find Batsford Arboretum, dog-friendly 56-acre gardens with trees and shrubs around the world. Other nearby attractions include Cotswold Falconry Centre, Sezincote House – built in the Indian Style, a unique combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture; Norton House Garden, Mill Dene Garden, Cotswold Distillery and Chastleton House.

• We continue our stroll past Manor House Hotel, reputed to be haunted; walk by the Old Parsonage and take note of the Edward VII post box on the wall. Not far away is St David’s Church, built in Gothic style in 1859. There are incidentally many country walks on offer at Moreton Information Centre including the Moreton Eight Walk Trail which enables walkers to reach Batsford Arboretum, Bourton on the Hill or the village of Longborough, promising stunning views across the Evenlode Valley.

Manor House Hotel Manor House Hotel

• As we ponder Moreton’s merits, it is the peaceful, elegance and timelessness that we enjoy most, and the chance to just be and catch our breath before the school run. And I will just add, yes, there are lovely boutique shops to explore, but the charity shops are great too. I must pay tribute to Acorns, which as a charity celebrates its 30th anniversary this year supporting local childrens’ hospices. I leave the final words about Moreton-in-Marsh with Acorns Manager Sophie Joyce. “I have been working in this town for the past two years and love it so much I intend to move here next year,” she tells us. Siobhan and I can see why. It is self-contained, has historic significance, has plenty of quirky and interesting shops and is architecturally stunning – and has one of the best toy shops in the world!

St David's Church St David's Church

Moreton Show, one of the country’s biggest one-day agricultural shows takes place on Saturday, September 1. With 350 trade stands showing or selling everything, from Combine Harvesters to Wellington boots and the very best locally produced food, there is plenty to see and do. There will also be thrilling entertainment in the Grand Arena and Attractions Ring, and according to organisers, even some dancing sheep. It is definitely a day of farming, food, fashion and fun.

Another event to watch out for is Moreton-in-Marsh Beer Festival, Friday, September 7 until Saturday, September 8 at Moreton-in-Marsh Cricket Club, 11am-11pm.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

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

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


Imposing manor houses, quiet medieval villages, idyllic swathes of countryside - the Cotswolds offers a lot for location scouts in the film business. We pick 19 famous filming locations in the Cotswolds, as seen on screens big and small

Read more

A bracing walk up to the summit of Bredon Hill is the perfect way to see in the Spring. A local saying warns ‘When Bredon Hill has on his hat, men of the vale beware of that’, but whatever the weather the charm of Elmley Castle and its inn will more than compensate!

Read more

With an average audience of 2.5 million viewers and a global audience, it’s safe to say Father Brown is a hit. We talk through the gorgeous Cotswold villages and locations that have been used as the backdrop to BBC One’s popular crime-solving drama...

Read more
Friday, March 16, 2018

As the weather warms, blossom blooms from the trees and colourful flowers burst from the ground, we can’t wait to explore the Cotswold countryside. We pick 9 walks that will make you want to lace up your walking boots straightaway!

Read more
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The finest horses, jockeys and trainers are preparing to battle it out at The Cheltenham Festival. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 12 suggestions on what a racegoer needs to do during the four days of racing...

Read more
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On a soggy day in Oxfordshire, Tracy Spiers and family discover first-hand just how warm a Witney Blanket is

Read more
Thursday, March 8, 2018

The days are getting longer and the Cotswolds are gradually becoming a floral delight, but there are still plenty of opportunities for frosty morning walks and toasting your feet in front of the fire. Springtime in the Cotswolds is absolute bliss as these pictures show.

Read more
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We never tire of pretty pictures of the Cotswolds. Here are ten of the best shared on Instagram this week...

Read more
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

It’s bustling, beautiful and it is a brilliant haunt for hobbit enthusiasts, history lovers and those who want an excuse to return to childhood. Moreton-in-Marsh has a timeless charm, a tremendous sense of place whilst offering the modern-day comforts, delicious choice of artisan foods, coffees and a unique shopping experience. I took my dear friend Siobhan Adam to discover the delights that make Moreton-in-Marsh what it is

Read more
Friday, February 23, 2018

Tracy Spiers talks to the market town’s traders about their wishes for the year ahead

Read more
Friday, February 23, 2018

Awe-inspiring views, picture-perfect scenery and iconic landmarks, the Cotswolds is the perfect place to enjoy a countryside ramble. We pick 7 walks for you to try with nearby cafes to rest your weary feet and indulge in a cream tea

Read more
Monday, February 19, 2018

Be inspired by the unspoilt delights and dells of Miserden and the fascinating Tolstoyan community of the Whiteway Colony

Read more
Friday, February 16, 2018

They say Cirencester is the capital of the Cotswolds but the quintessential villages that adorn the northern half of the region are equally as beautiful. In no particular order, we pick 10 of the prettiest north Cotswold villages you need to explore

Read more
Thursday, February 15, 2018

Highways England is inviting people to have their say on plans to upgrade the A417 near Birdlip on a vital South West route

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search