A visitor's guide to Painswick
PUBLISHED: 14:47 17 April 2019
We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Painswick, sponsored by the Court House
Court House Manor | 01452 814849 | courthousemanor.co.uk
Officially a town, Painswick is another of the Cotswold settlements to have benefitted from the wool trade. Widely known as the 'Queen of the Cotswolds', Painswick has narrow streets of houses built of grey, rather than golden, limestone opening up to large houses and vistas across the rolling hills of the Five Valleys. Today the town has embraced its tourist credentials, with quirky little art galleries, independent shops and award-winning inns tucked away in quaint corners. Painswick is rich in historical detail, from donkey doors in Bisley Street to the Grade I listed church of St Mary, which still bears the scars of cannon, gunfire and an attempt to set it alight during the Civil War. The latter has an impressive churchyard full of table tomb, as well as an unusual pyramid tomb built for the stonemason John Bryan's grave. The half-timbered lychgate is Grade II listed but was completed less than a century ago, in 1902.
Most noted for... its yew trees – St Mary's churchyard is said to contain exactly 99, with folklore dictating that the devil always takes the 100th!
While you're here... take a walk up to the Painswick Beacon on the Cotswold Way and see the earthworks and remains of the Iron Age fort. Step up and admire the amazing views, which stretch as far as Wales on a clear day.
But try not to... miss the bowling green at the back of Falcon Inn. It was laid down and enclosed in 1554 by the lords of the manor, the Jerningham family and is the oldest in the country.
Painswick was the birthplace of internationally renowned tea merchant Thomas Twining, and was long the home of the Seddon family (who were related to the Perrins, of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce fame). Other famous residents have favoured the arts rather than trade. Composers Julian Slade (writer of the hit 1950s musical Salad Days), Gerald Finzi and Charles Wilfred Orr all lived in the town and Slade was honorary president of the Painswick Players. Husband and wife actors Susan Lynch and Craig Parkinson have a house in Painswick.
Dating back to the 18th century, this fantastic horticultural attraction is the only complete example of a Rococo garden in England. Theatrical and exotic, it has follies, flamboyant water features and lots of flair. Designed by Benjamin Hyett, it has statues of pagan deities, stunning vistas and stately trees. From May 26-September 8 the gardens host contemporary outdoor sculpture alongside a programme of artist workshops and talks. Tackle the Anniversary Maze, planted at the start of the new millennium – true to extravagant Rococo style, the maze has not one, but three goals to reach.
Clypping the church
Visit the town on Feast Day (the Sunday following September 19) and you'll witness the ancient Painswick Clypping Ceremony. Thought to have originated in the 14th century, the rite sees the local children wearing flowers in their hair and singing hymns, as they link hands to form a chain around the Norman church of St Mary. This ceremony is traditionally followed by refreshments and a slice of 'dog pie', filled with plums rather than anyone's canine friend.
Move here for...
And get: A semi-detached six bedroom house close to the centre of town, set over three floors, with scope for remodelling. Besides large gardens and a pretty terrace, the grounds include a two-storey garage.
Eat at: The Café @ Rococo
Why? This café is in the old coach house that marks the entrance to Painswick Rococo garden. Produce from the kitchen garden is incorporated into homemade cakes and lunches. Open daily from 10.30am – 5pm (and you don't need to buy a ticket for the gardens if you're just here for the food).
Drink at: The Butchers Arms
Why? Take a country walk across the valley to Sheepscombe, then slake your thirst at this freehouse English pub. Passionate about their beer, the pub holds the Cask Marque award for the quality of its its ales and supports local breweries and cider makers. Famed for its carved sign, as well as its Cotswold views, the pub was a favourite watering hole of author Laurie Lee.
Stay at: The Painswick Hotel
Why? Originally a 17th century Palladian manor house, The Painswick has Arts & Crafts and Italianate additions and a charming history. Now the height of luxurious comfort and retro-chic décor, it's a 16-bedroom, 21st century treasure.