A visitor's guide to Stow-on-the-Wold
PUBLISHED: 14:55 17 April 2019
We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Stow-on-the-Wold, sponsored by Cotswold Hideaways
Cotswold Hideaways | 01451 885179 | cotswoldshideaways.co.uk
With mellow yellow stone buildings, chic cafés, trendy food shops, quaint houses, and surrounding rolling hills, to many people Stow-on-the-Wold is the town that epitomises the Cotswolds. Officially founded by Norman lords because of its converging trade routes, Stow's origins can be traced back to the Iron Age and the subsequent prosperity brought by the Roman Fosse Way. There are remains of Iron Age settlements and Bronze Age burial mounds between Stow and the nearby village of Maugersbury, if history is your thing. The town also played its part in the Civil War; the market square was the site of a Royalist surrender following the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold in 1646.
Stow is famous for its fairs – it's said that 20,000 sheep could change hands in a day here in the 19th century – and the town's annual horse fairs continue twice a year. The farmers' markets are held in The Square on the second Thursday of the month, with two a month in the summer. These days Stow's foodie credentials are growing to rival its famed antiques shops and galleries, with national newspaper critics dropping by to sample what's on offer.
Most noted for... being the highest town in the Cotswolds. There again, 'wold' means high, open land or moor. At 800ft above sea level, Stow is also one of the area's windiest towns, and inspired the saying 'Stow-on-the-Wold where the wind doth blow cold'.
While you're here... take a selfie by the stocks on the Market Square and take a look at the Market Cross, which was put up to remind stallholders and traders to deal honestly.
But try not to... delve too deeply into the town's Civil War history. It's rumoured that so much blood was spilled during the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold that ducks bathed in it – hence the town's Digbeth Street, meaning 'ducks' bath'.
Jeremy Clarkson filmed his Top Gear review of the Ford F-Series in Stow and 'The Stig' is rumoured to be a Stow-based professional test driver. Former racehorse trainer David Loder was born in the town, and John Entwistle, bass guitarist of The Who, lived in a Victorian gothic rectory just south of the town. His funeral was held at St Edward's.
St Edward's Church
St Edward's boasts the heaviest peel of bells in Gloucestershire and was constructed overlooking Stow's market square between the 11th and 15th centuries. Two ancient yew trees planted either side of the north door have become part of the building's fabric and lend it an other-worldy appearance. St Edward's namesake suffered misfortunes that sound like an episode of Game of Thrones. A teenage Saxon king, Edward the Martyr was murdered by his stepmother as part of a grisly plot to take the crown.
A monument to Sir Hastings Keyte, a Royalist captain killed at the battle, can be found inside the church, along with a leather-bound book detailing the histories of the 59 men lost in the world wars. In the churchyard, the Civil War dead are still honoured by flowers placed at the memorial stone.
Stow Town Trail
Follow the Stow Town Trail through honey-coloured streets as you take in all this lovely town has to offer. The trail provides an insight into the stories behind the town's oldest buildings, and the origins of the narrow stone alleyways (known locally as tures) that were traditionally used for directing the sheep going to the fair and markets. Buildings of interest include the Toll House, Porch House and Fleece Alley.
Find out more about Stow's heritage at this biennial summer festival, scheduled for July 20, 2019. The event alternates with the Stow motor show.
Move here for...
And get: A completely renovated 18th century Regency Grade II-listed townhouse, with two bedrooms, first floor sitting room, stylish kitchen and cellar.
Eat at: The Old Butchers
Why? With a nose-to-tail ethos of minimal waste whatever the ingredient, the menu leans towards fish and seafood, with delicious vegetarian dishes besides.
Drink at: The Queen's Head
Why? It's an old-fashioned 17th century hostelry boasting Donnington Brewery ales, unpretentious, traditional food, a courtyard garden for the summer months and a log burner for winter warmth.
Stay at: The Old Stocks Inn
Why? Since its refurbishment in 2015, this boutique hotel on The Square has mixed Insta-worthy Scandi-meets-Shoreditch décor to the 17th century building and created a good bar (and cocktails), pizza oven in the garden, and a quirky café to boot.