Time travelling in Winchcombe
PUBLISHED: 15:13 09 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:15 20 February 2013
Winchcombe may appear to be small and sleepy, but don't be deceived; there's more to this Cotswold town than meets the eye. Words by Tracy Spiers
Time travelling in Winchcombe
Winchcombe may appear to be small and sleepy, but dont be deceived; theres more to this Cotswold town than meets the eye. Words by Tracy Spiers.
Theres an incredible Tardis quality about the charming historic town of Winchcombe its interior far surpasses its exterior. It has a beautiful honeycomb faade which has lived through time just like Dr Whos machine. But walk through the doors of Winchcombes rich patchwork of individual shops, restaurants and cafes, one realises this town is bigger than it appears and theres a whole new modern world to explore.
Once famous for wool and tobacco, this Fair Trade town now produces winning commodities of a different kind. Its here one can buy a chandelier, receive a luxurious hot stone massage from Beauty Beyond; dine in the finest of restaurants and gastro pubs; relax in exquisite coffee shops or tea rooms including Juris, winner of the Award of Excellence Tea Place 2011; buy glamorous and edgy evening wear and still find two butchers, several bakers and a greengrocer.
The fact there isnt one empty shop in Winchcombe shows a vote in confidence in this current recession, exclaims Martin Williams, who describes his business Food Fanatics as everybodys posh larder.
We do seem to attract groups of people from Evesham, Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and surrounding hamlets and of course the walkers. Two or three walks go through the town.
Martin recently moved to bigger premises in North Street enabling his successful delicatessen to accommodate a coffee shop.
I do like to sell local produce but I also like having a whole variety of interesting products that make the customers respond and want to try it.
Trying new ventures also keeps the community alive. Winchcombe Business Forum hosts its first Continental Market at Abbey Terrace on Sunday, November 20 and on Tuesday, December 6 the town has its first Christmas Festival. The event (5-8pm), replacing previous late night shopping events, promises to be a seasonal celebration with an eclectic mix of around 20 stallholders, street entertainment, festive dance, carol singing, a seasonal Mummers Play, and Father Christmas.
Traders also benefit from tourists visiting nearby Sudeley Castle, former home of Queen Katherine Parr which played a significant role in the turbulent and changing times of Englands past. Next year marks 500 years since her birth and the town plans to celebrate this in style as well as the HRH Queen Elizabeth IIs Diamond Jubilee.
Each business brings in its different clientele. Customers travel from Solihull, London, Hereford, and Monmouth as well as within a 10-mile radius to buy the perfect outfit for Cheltenham races, weddings, hunt balls, and parties at Me, Me, Me.
I always send my customers to the various gastro pubs and restaurants in Winchcombe such as Wesley House, 5 North Street and Wine & Sausage at The White Hart Inn. Its important to support other traders. I personally think the town is really buzzing at the moment, says owner Kelly Brown, who opens until 8pm during Cheltenham Race Week.
Opening this month is Emporium, a gift shop with a Mini Emporium dedicated to childrens toys. Owner Angela Theobald has been living in Australia for the past five years but says she needed a sea-change.
We were impressed by the great sense of community and felt it was such a nice place to visit as well as live in. We realised it didnt have a dedicated gift shop and we want to provide something different for both local people and visitors.
Her next-door business neighbour, Anton & K Decorative Living, run by husband and wife team, Anthony and Karen Cull, started trading in Winchcombe exactly a year ago, specialising in original painted country furniture, from French shutters, chandeliers, antique lighting to scented candles. The Culls moved back to Gloucestershire from Majorca.
We were toying with the idea of going to France, but we felt this was the nearest we could find that had that local French town feel. It is very unpretentious and has great gastro pubs, delis, hotels and vintage shops, exclaims Karen, who joined forces this summer with Jane Smoczynski, owner of Winds of Change Gallery to host an exhibition called At home in Winchcombe. It showcased an eclectic home interior setting from the towns selection of art and antique shops. Jane will be hosting another one with an Arts and Crafts theme from November 19-23.
We moved to Winchcombe because we just loved the spot. Its an ideal place to live and work. It has beautiful surroundings, the countryside is an area of outstanding natural beauty, it has a wonderful community and businesses work well together, she says.
Having seen Winchcombe in action, I cant help thinking that its similar to a properly maintained and piloted Tardis, transporting its occupants to any point in time and space. With a history stretching back 1,000 years, poignant landmarks acting as reminders to its important role in the woollen industry; and a modern outlook to ensure the town is up to date, Winchcombe seems to do just that.