This is part three of 4 blogs on our May/June 2014 trip.
By combining our vacation and a buying trip, we were able to take time to explore the northern Cotswolds. It had been on our bucket list and many of our customers rave about the area. There is no way to see it all, so we didn’t overcommit to a long list of must-see places. Instead, we were guided by our love of antiques. We let the history of the area speak to us.
It’s so beautiful. Time has stood still here. Villages are nestled around a bend or in a valley, with the homes and buildings snuggled up to each other, protected by large walls. We loved our vacation and having the daily experience of walking by the dry stone walls, hearing the bells toll, smelling the fresh bread. It’s no wonder that so many people chose to vacation there. History is deep here and visiting the Cotswolds is not a new idea; travelers have been coming there for thousands of years.
Not far from Stow-on-the-Wold are the Rollright Stones. Set just off a country lane, a mysterious stone circle waits for its visitors. Built by people in the early Bronze Age, overlooking fields of green, the purpose is unknown. We visited on a cool, rainy day. Pulling up on a late afternoon, no other visitors around, we took our time walking the 77 circled stones. A tad bit eerie; it’s no wonder that a Dr. Who episode was filmed here.
We traveled the famous Fosse Way, a Roman road running from southwest England to Lincoln. The Romans invaded England in 43 A.D. Driving down an incredible narrow lane, hugging a hillside, we arrived at the ruins of the Chedworth Roman Villa. Here, we visited remains of an important family’s villa from the 2nd century. When the Romans moved into the British Isles, they set up outposts and gave the wealthy land. Beautiful mosaics have been uncovered and restored. The underfloor heating systems and bath houses impress with their innovative technology.
One day, we ventured down a densely foggy lane to emerge into sunlight at Sudeley Castle, just outside the village of Winchcombe. Sudeley Castle’s history begins around the year 1000, with a Saxon manor. We were there to learn about Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife. She outlived Henry, remarried and made this her home until her death in 1548. It’s a magnificent manor house with a beautiful garden and lovely ruins. You tour the manor at your own pace. We also had a delightful lunch there.
In the Cotswolds, limestone was used to build compact villages. There is a sameness of the villages, but each distinctively unique. Most of the villages we visited were built in the 1500s, but built on earlier settlements. Nothing has changed the look of the villages in many, many years. Money streamed into this area of England because of the famous wool-producing sheep as early as the 1100s, when international merchants came to purchase the wool and left behind mountains of money.