The Cotswolds is just a short daytrip from London taking only 1 hour and 40 minutes on the train to Moreton-in-Marsh. The area has been named as an area of outstanding natural beauty and is probably the most beautiful region of the South-West England. With a population of around 139,000 and spreading over several counties, the Cotswolds stretch across the rolling hills to the Vale of Evesham and the Welsh Mountains are visible on a clear day. Steeped in history, the area has several major historical and tourist attractions such as; Chastleton House, Blenheim Palace, The Cotswold Wildlife Park, Batsford Arboretum and The Cotswold Farm Park.
The Cotswold Wool Trade
Cotswold sheep were known as the basis of the English wool trade and were nicknamed as ‘Cotswold Lions’ for their shaggy long coats that had a hint of golden tone. Cotswold sheep are still bred in the area but are a minority to the faster-growing breeds which have higher resistance to disease for a longer life. The Cotswolds was famous for being one of the largest outputs for wool during Medieval times. The area was well-known during the Middle Ages throughout Europe for the quantity and quality of its wool. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the churches or local constituencies were unable to improve their wealth by increasing the already established wool industry.
“In these Woulds there feed in great numbers, flockes of sheepe long necked and square of bulke and bone, by reason (as it is commonly thought) of the weally and hilly situation of their pasturage; whose wool being so fine and soft is had in passing great account among all nations”.
William Camden wrote the above account in 1610 integrated in his famous works ‘Britannia’, a geographical and historical description of The Cotswolds of Great Britain. England became increasingly dependent on the monetary input from Cotswold wool in the 15th Century that even Lord Chancellor’s chair in the House of Lords was known as the ‘woolsack’, made from the finest Cotswold wool. Apparently, the Burial in Wool Acts of 1667 and 1678 said that bodies should be buried in wool, unless those who had died had the Plague. The acts were revoked in 1814. The wool trade reached its highest from the 14th to 16th centuries and during this time many skilled tradesman moved into the area and the towns grew larger. Local quarries provided the beautiful honey-coloured Cotswold limestone that encompasses every building in cities, market towns, villages and hamlets. The chocolate box villages are carpeted with cosy cottages with thatched roofs, a far cry from city life.
Cotswolds in the Modern Day
The Cotswolds today are beautiful and unspoilt. The region has avoided being overdeveloped like many other areas in England and most of the buildings have kept their original stone and charm. Coaching inns still retain their characteristics with heavy beams, low doorways and stone floors, and many are still public houses. Some of the previous tweed and wool mills have been preserved and are now residential buildings, commercial sites or offices, but most are still standing in all their glory. Most of the buildings in The Cotswolds are listed, protected from renovations or huge alterations so that they can keep their Cotswold dignity. Weekly markets still come to the market squares of market towns, with monthly visits from the Farmers Market, offering organic fresh produce. Many of the towns have newly built homes, but respectfully they have been built on the outskirts of town, leaving the Cotswold historically unique houses and buildings in the town centre.
The Best Cotswold Tour
If you’re thinking of visiting The Cotswolds for a daytrip, then let us take you to all the best attractions so you can see the stunning countryside with a Cotswold Secret Cottage Tour. If you’re coming from London, then there’s a direct line to Moreton-in-Marsh from Paddington where we pick you up in our luxury Mercedes minibus. We will make certain you see some of the most beautiful Cotswold stately homes, top Cotswold attractions and the prettiest villages in England alongside the charming market towns. We make sure our guests don’t go hungry so take you to our home the Secret Cottage where we serve a delicious homemade buffet lunch, also giving you tea and coffee with a pastry in the morning, then an indulgent traditional Cotswold cream tea in the afternoon. We get booked up very quickly, so please book your tickets soon if you would like to experience one of the best tours in England…