History & heritage

History and heritage


The Cotswolds is world famous for the beauty of its towns and villages. In scale this varies from modest cottages to imposing manor houses and impressive churches both large and small. It is the uniformity which so appeals – a mellow golden limestone. As you get to know it, you will see that the stone varies across the region from a creamy white through subtleties of grey to a golden hue, all within the space of a few miles.

Gently undulating hills and tree-lined valleys rise gently from the green meadows of the upper reaches of the Thames to the dramatic limestone escarpment which is (quite literally) the high point of the Cotswolds. From here the hills slope down dramatically into the Vale of Evesham and the Severn Vale.

Cotswold towns and villages such as Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water are famous all over the world and epitomise the English rural scene. Each stands on a famous Cotswold river, the Windrush and the Coln respectively. These villages are typical of so many communities which have grown up over centuries in these attractive river valleys running down through the hills.

Two things above all give the Cotswolds their special warmth and richness: the soft natural limestone, and the high quality stone buildings which were financed by the wealthy wool trade in medieval England.

Historical facts

  • c2500BC -  The area is rich in neolithic remains.
  • 47AD      -  The Roman invasion comes to the Cotswolds. 
  • 947AD    -  The Porch House, Stow-on-the-Wold - Britain's oldest inn.
  • 1300's    -  The wool trade brings wealth to the area.
  • 1646      -  The last battle of the civil war took place just outside Stow-on-the-Wold.
  • 1871      -  William Morris leased Kelmscott Manor and was inspired by the area.

Cotswold District Council
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