A visitor’s guide to Stow-on-the-Wold

PUBLISHED: 10:05 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:05 02 April 2020




We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Stow-on-the-Wold, sponsored by Character Cottages

Population: 2,000

Move here for... £399,500

And get: A two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage with mullion windows, lots of beams and a courtyard garden.

Eat at: The Old Butchers (01451 831700)

Why? Formerly a butcher’s shop, this Park Street restaurant honours the ingredients that go into its dishes, with a nose-to-tail, stalk to root ethos of minimal waste.

Drink at: The Porch House (01451 870048)

Why? It’s one of, if not the, oldest pub in the country, cleverly retaining its authenticity while upping its style-count. Choose a pie and a pint, or a veggie dumpling and non-alcoholic botanical.

Stay at: Wyck Hill House Hotel (01451 831936)

Why? Just outside the town, this manor house turned hotel has its own spa alongside contemporary styled rooms.

As the highest town in the Cotswolds at 800ft above sea level, Stow-on-the-Wold is also one of the windiest. Blowy Stow’s fine stone buildings are a clue to its long and rich history; it’s surrounded by Iron Age settlements and Bronze Age burial mounds, and the Roman road, the Fosse Way, runs through it. Strategically important in battle and trade, so much blood is said to have flowed through Stow’s streets during a Civil War battle in 1646 that local ducks bathed in it. Digbeth, “ducks’ bath” Street is said to date back to that gruesome time. At the height of wool trading, as many 20,000 sheep could change hands in a single day at one of Stow’s markets. The Market Cross was purposefully placed as a visible reminder for honest, fair dealing. Horse fairs still take place twice yearly, drawing in sightseers and the curious as well as serious buyers.

Most noted for... the two yew trees in St Edward churchyard, which were originally planted either side of the north doorway and have grown into the fabric of the building.

While you’re here... follow the Stow town trail for the history behind the oldest streets and stone alleyways, known locally as tures or chures. Their narrowness acted as a conduit for herding sheep to market. (go-stow.co.uk)

But try not to... get stuck in the past. The town is a thriving centre for art sales, supporting one of the largest concentrations of galleries outside London.

Who’s who Harry Ferguson, the tractor manufacturer, lived in Stow, and the bass guitarist of The Who, John Entwistle, lived just outside the town until his death. Former racehorse trainer David Loder was born in the Stow, and celebrated artist LS Lowry painted the Market Square.

St Edward’s church

The north doorway St Edward’s church, with its twin yews, is said to have inspired author JRR Tolkien’s vision of the Doors of Durin in Lord of the Rings. The church is also noteworthy for having the heaviest peal of bells in Gloucestershire. Constructed and expanded between the 11th and 15th centuries, the church hosts a monument to Royalist captain Sir Hastings Keyte, killed in battle. The dead of the Civil War are still honoured with flowers at the memorial stone. A Victorian statue of St Edward stands sentinel over the Market Square from his vantage point on the front of the nearby St Edward’s Hall.

Well Lane

Take a stroll down Well Lane to find the spring-fed wells that date back to Roman times. Best visited on foot, these served to supply the town’s water until around 100 years ago. The view from the wells across to the Evenlode Valley is worth the detour.

Stow shows

Stow hosts a biennial motorshow (stowmotorshow.co.uk) with the next planned for July 2020. Expect modern and vintage cars, such as Bentleys and Lamborghinis, alongside classic Fords and old minis, motorcycles and tractors. On alternate years the Stow summer festival takes places instead. If you find yourself near Stow in autumn, watch out for the annual art week. It’s a showcase for the many galleries and artists in the town, with exhibitions, talks and workshops, and a chance to buy authentic art. (stowartweek.com)

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