Stow is a beautiful market town where shops and the town centre sit around a big market square that is crammed by cafes serving homemade good, restaurants with stunning menus, English antique shops, stunning art galleries and quirky gift shops. Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the most well-known towns in The Cotswolds. Surrounded by the beautiful rolling Cotswold hills, Stow was built on the Roman road called The Fosse Way. It is regarded as the highest town in The Cotswolds, standing at 800 feet above sea level. Throughout the years, Stow-on-the-Wold was a regular meeting place with six roads leading from many locations joined the town, making it a popular place to gather.
Stow-on-the-Wold played a large part in The Cotswolds towards the wool trade. The wool trade was the main trade that the area is famous for, until the cloth industry moved North. The town was well-known for its annual fairs where sheep and other animals were traded, apparently where twenty thousand sheep were once sold. The town was granted the right to have annual animal fairs in 1330 but ever since the sheep trade reduced in the area, horses have taken their place. The Gypsy Horse Fair still occur in fields just outside the town centre, where twice a year hundreds of gypsies gather to sell horses and ponies. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during this time, you will undoubtedly see horse drawn carriages and gypsy caravans on the roads.
The Market Town Square
The beautiful town square of Stow is typical of an early Cotswold sheep market. The narrow, winding alleys leading up to the market square were built on purpose so that farmers could count their sheep. One of the main roads that leads into the market square is called Sheep Street. There is an ancient stone cross at one of end of the market square and at the other end are the town penal stocks which sit between to large elm trees. The town was originally founded in the 11th Century and was known then as Edwardstow. Markets have regularly taken place in the market square of the town since 1107 when a charter was granted by King Henry II.
The Royalist Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the oldest inns in the country dating back to 987AD. The hotel still has many original features, including a stunning medieval fireplace with ‘witch’s marks’ that are believed to have been carved to ward off spells. The hotel staff also say that there are a few resident ghosts and it’s there is a secret tunnel that leads from the cellars to the street. The Kings Arms, also in the market square has some interesting history attached to it, once visited by King Charles I in 1645 before the Battle of Naseby. The Royalist army moved through The Cotswolds in 1646 trying to meet with King Charles at Oxford. They were tackled in Stow by a Parliamentary force and a dangerous and fatal fight broke out in the square, with over 1000 Royalists being defeated and imprisoned in the church.
A Cotswold Daytrip
Pretty Cotswold market towns are idyllic working towns, where friendly faces pass by in the street and smile. If you’re visiting The Cotswolds or staying nearby, expect to see nothing but beautiful countryside, chocolate box villages with thatched cottages and a true quintessential vision of natural beauty. There are plenty of tourist attractions if you are looking for things to do, but just to experience this beautiful area for a day is something you will never forget. If you’re staying in London, then book our 6-hour Secret Cottage Tour. It’s only a short train journey taking 1hr 40 mins to our nearby station Moreton-in-Marsh, in the heart of The Cotswolds. The Cotswold Tour will pick you up directly from the train station in our luxury minibus and show you all the most stunning places in the area. We provide a delicious home cooked buffet style lunch in our home, accompanied by a tour of our Secret Cottage. We also provide a morning drink and pastry, plus a tasty traditional Cotswold cream tea in the afternoon. When the tour has finished, we will take you back to the train station so that you can be back in London for the evening. The Secret Cottage Tour is the perfect daytrip from the city, showing you the most beautiful sights of The Cotswolds.