A while back, I spent sometime in the Cotswolds on a painting trip for an exhibition. Prior to my trip, I had only really passed through this stunning part of the UK on the way to somewhere else. It seemed such a pity not to stop.
So when an exhibition came up, I jumped at the opportunity and excuse to book a hotel for a week or so and wander about with my paints and brushes.
I had a great time touring about and discovering new and wonderful villages and towns, many of which go back to medieval times and before.
I was just rooting through my files here and I came across my Cotswold paintings and felt they would make a good post as an antidote to the January blues.
So if you are planning any trips in the coming spring and summer, you can’t go far wrong with a visit to some of the places listed below.
Snowshill is perched on a hill above the village of Broadway where John Singer Sargent spent some time painting. It is rather secluded and the Snowshill pub has fine views of the Cotswold Landscape.
A must see visit is Snowshill Manor and museum. It is owned by the National Trust, though was owned by architect and craftsman Charles Paget Wade in the 20th Century. The manor was graced by many famous literally fingers including John Betjeman, Graham Greene, Virginia Woolf, John Buchan and J B Priestley.
Also, if you are painter like me, then the Lavender fields are stunning in the summer. The striking purple of the flower heads are a real challenge to paint, though what amazed me the most was the continual, and cosy low hum emitted by thousands of industrious bees.
Bourton-on-the-Water is set on the river Windrush with its row of charming low bridges along the main street linking one side of the village with the other. It is one of the most popular spots in the Cotswolds and is often called ‘The little Venice of the Cotswolds’.
The water in the Windrush is very shallow and is a fine spot for a paddle on a hot summer’s day. A great spot to paint too.
Here we have a lovely small town of only 1,000 inhabitants, and its bridge across the Windrush, makes it the main gateway to the Cotswolds from the south. The locals left no time to make the most of this potential commerce. They were given a charter for a market over 900 years ago and the shops are still making good business the whole length of the main street right down the bridge. You can’t go wrong with a quick shopping stop off here.
This is a stunning place to the point where you feel it might be a film set, in fact if Hogwarts had a village just down the road then Stanton would be it. It is situated along a main street which slowly climbs up Shenbarrow Hill culminating in The Mount pub. The views from the pub of the Vale of Evesham and the Malvern Hills are at their best just before sunset.
I spent a day painting in Stanton and, in all that time, I saw one person on a horse and two walkers. I saw no residents at all. I wondered if most of the houses are second homes. I do like a busy village really with a pub in amongst the houses and the odd shop here and there. With all that said, it’s well worth a visit and the church is wonderful.
This is a beautiful town and is a classic example of a Cotswold community. Most of the town today was built in the heyday of the wool industry in the 16th Century. Some of the buildings were lost during the civil war, though most of it remains for us to enjoy today. I spent a day or so painting here during the summer. I just did two paintings though there are a hundreds more still to do.
The banqueting house
This is a fragment of a larger building built by Sir Baptist Hicks that was destroyed by Royalist soldiers as they were being booted out of the town by Cromwellian forces during the Civil war. Only this section exists now to give a reminder of the past. Still lovely though. I rather like it like that.
The Market hall
Here we have the marketing hall, built in in 1627 in the High Street. It was built to provide a spot of cover for market traders and focus for the community. It is still a bit of a gathering place today for locals and visitors alike. There are areas of grass to rest on, eat a picnic and watch he world go by.
A very odd name for a village that was voted the most romantic street in the UK (2011). An additional irony is the lack of slaughter. It is one of only 14 villages in the UK that had no deaths at all from either World war one or World War two. The name derives from the Old English name for a wet land ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’ (Old English for muddy place) upon which it lies.
The Old Mill
The painting is of the Old Mill. A 19th century watermill last used in 1958. It is now a gift shop, museum and boats a fine tea shop overlooking the river. This tea shop is a real gem and my favourite in the Cotswolds.
Well I have another commission to do in the Cotswolds this summer and I am eager to get going again. Hopefully I can do a few days there and work up a few additional locations. Thanks for stopping by.