A visitor's guide to Moreton-in-Marsh
PUBLISHED: 14:24 17 April 2019
We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Moreton-in-Marsh, sponsored by Cotswood Fine Furniture
Cotswood Fine Furniture | 01386 700110 | cotswood.com
Moreton-in-Marsh has a long history of hospitality and trade – and in the 21st century visitors still come in their thousands to enjoy both. A Cotswold classic, little at its heart has changed since King Charles I stayed at the White Hart in 1645. The site of Iron and Bronze Age settlements, with the Roman Fosse Way just beneath the surface of the High Street, like many 13th century Cotswold towns it has evolved to accommodate a market, with burgage plots for businesses, public houses, coaching inns, and older properties along its length.
The Stratford and Moreton Tramway stopped here to deliver Black Country coal to rural Cotswold districts in the 1800s; when it converted to a rail line, Moreton's station was one of Britain's earliest. Visit today, and you'll find independent businesses, such as the Cotswold Cheese Company sitting alongside cafés, antiques shops and interiors stores. On Tuesdays, it's all change as more than 200 stalls line the streets, making it the largest open-air market in the Cotswolds.
Most noted for... its links to Batsford and its arboretum, which is home to the largest private collection of trees in the country and worth visiting year-round for blossom in spring, colour in autumn and bare-branched beauty in winter.
While you're here... take a detour to Wellington Aviation Museum in the British School House. Open on Sundays, it commemorates the bomber crews who trained at Moreton-in-Marsh RAF station during the Second World War. The base is now used by the Fire Service College.
But try not to... be put off by the name of the town! It derives from the Old English henne mersh, meaning an area frequented by waterfowl.
The six Mitford sisters (Nancy, Jessica, Unity, Diana, Pamela and Deborah) grew up in the nearby Batsford Park, variously achieving notoriety and fame for their associations with fascism, novel-writing, poultry-keeping and in the case of Deborah, by marrying the future Duke of Devonshire and eventually becoming a Duchess. Redesdale Market Hall, built in 1887, honours the family's contributions over the years as benefactors of Moreton. Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate was inspired by the Moreton area.
Enjoy a country day out at Moreton-in-Marsh Show on the first Saturday in September. The annual event has become one of the Cotswolds' premier agricultural events, featuring more than 300 trade stands. Expect some 950 entries for the various show classes, horses, goats, poultry, dogs, sheep and flowers, plus special events in the grand arena.
Set aside some time for a visit to the Cotswold Falconry Centre, set up to promote knowledge of birds of prey and the art of falconry. More than 60 species have a home here, and the centre holds regular flying displays. Book in the evening for a special owl event and get a privileged tour of 'owl wood'.
Extraordinarily ornate, Sezincote is a 200-year-old Moghul Indian palace in the heart of English countryside with a history attributable to three brothers. Charles and Samuel Cockerell, and their sister Elizabeth, inherited the old Jacobean manor when their brother Colonel John Cockerell, who had served with the East India Company army, died. Charles bought his brother and sister's share of the house and commissioned Samuel to redesign Sezincote.
With its combination of classic Hindu and Muslim architecture, reminiscent of Rajasthan, a large central dome and minarets made from copper, the building is considered unique in Europe – though it is also said to be the inspiration behind Brighton Pavilion. Despite the gardens being toned down by subsequent owners, they still feature Brahmin bulls and snakes, set among temples, grottoes, pools and waterfalls.
Move here for...
And get: A High Street shop with a two-storey flat above. The double bay fronted building is bright and airy, and though the two bedroom flat needs some updating, it comes with a courtyard garden.
Eat at: The Redesdale Arms Hotel
Why? With 34 bedrooms and an impressive array of AA Rosettes, The Redesdale Arms is 17th century hotel with a refurbished restaurant serving traceable produce. The menu includes local estate game, Scottish salmon, posh burgers and Cotswold-bred meat, plus classic vegetarian selections.
Drink at: The Bell Inn
Why? It is said that JRR Tolkien based The Prancing Pony in The Lord of the Rings on this ancient coaching inn. Spot the blue plaque outside and map of Middle Earth indoors.
Stay at: The Manor House Hotel
Why? A 16th century former manor house with luxuriously designed bedrooms, many with four-poster beds, and a 2 AA Rosette restaurant, stunning gardens and a terrace, it has everything a Cotswold visitor needs.