Cotswolds Tourist Information
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Anyone in search of the true English countryside need look no further than the Cotswolds, considered by many to be amongst the most beautiful areas in England.
Two things above all give the Cotswolds their special warmth and richness; the soft, natural limestone and the wealth of the wool trade in days gone by which has left a heritage of superb buildings.
The Cotswold Hills rise gently from the green meadows of the Upper Thames and its tributaries in the east to the great western escarpment where the hills plunge dramatically into the Vales of Severn and Evesham.
The Romans arrived in the Cotswolds around AD47 and built the Fosse Way and Ermin Street as military roads which still form the backbone of the road system. Cirencester, then Corinium, was originally built as a defensive fort to protect these great arteries from attack, but as the frontier moved westward the Cotswolds entered a period of civilised affluence which continued for nearly 400 years.
|The river valleys cutting through the plateau form the setting for many of the small towns and villages, which are the great delight of the Cotswolds and seem almost to
'grow' in the surrounding landscape.
Less well known are the many smaller villages away from the main roads, each with its own secrets waiting to be discovered by the more adventurous traveller with time to go deeper into the real Cotswolds - perhaps an unspoilt historic church set on an older, iron age rampart, an un-assuming country pub with a log fire burning in the hearth, serving locally brewed real beer and good food, or a stone bridge spanning a crystal clear stream - each one in its unique setting, given harmony by picturesque cottages and imposing manor houses of Cotswold stone.
In former times Cotswold
towns had an importance which is belied by their modern air of quiet prosperity.
Corinium with its large houses, public buildings and amphitheatre just outside the town wall was second in importance only to London. Several opulent villas were built at this time and a partly surviving one may be seen at Chedworth in a delightful woodland setting. The award winning Corinium Museum in Cirencester now houses one of England's best collections of Roman material and displays it with great imagination to show how the Roman settlers really lived.
The golden age of the Cotswolds came with the growth in the wool trade in medieval times. The native Cotswold sheep produced a very long, thick fleece. Cotswold wool provided more than half of England's cloth and was exported to the continent, and the trading, processing and weaving brought great wealth to towns like Cirencester, Tetbury, Fairford, Northleach, Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Campden. The wool merchants built themselves splendid houses and endowed the magnificent wool churches which dominate so many Cotswold towns and villages.
Today the Cotswolds have a magnetic attraction for artists, naturalists, walkers and everyone with a love for rural peace and tranquillity.
Exploring the real Cotswolds at any time of year is a rewarding experience, each season throwing a different light on the changing scene. An area of outstanding natural beauty and interest itself, the Cotswolds are an excellent centre for visiting nearby heritage towns - the Regency Spa Towns of Cheltenham and Bath, and Gloucester with its magnificent Cathedral.
Less than two hours from London by road or rail, make the Cotswolds your centre for the Heart of England.
Oxfordshire wheat fields with the Cotswolds in the distance
Traditional Cotswold cottages and gardens
Vineyard Street, Winchcombe
has the River Eye as its focal point
Tourist Information Centres
1 Cotswold Court
Tel: 01386 852937
The Brewery, Sheep Street, Burford, Oxon
Tel: 01993 823558 Fax: 01993 823590
77 Promenade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1PJ
Tel: 01242 522878 Fax: 01242 255848
The Old Police Station, High Street, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, GL55 6HB
Tel: 01386 841206 Fax: 01386 841681
Park Street, Cirencester, Glos, GL7 2BX
Tel: 01285 654180
High Street, Coleford, Gloucestershire, GL16 8HG
Tel: 01594 812388 Fax: 01594 812390
28 South Gate Street, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL1 2DP
Tel: 01452 421188 Fax: 01452 504273
Cotswold District Council Offices, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 0AZ
Tel: 01608 650881 Fax: 01608 651542
7 Church Street, Newent, Gloucestershire, GL18 1PU
Tel/Fax: 01531 822468
Hollis House, The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, GL54 1AF
Tel: 01451 831082 Fax: 01451 870083
The Subscription Rooms, Kendrick Street, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 1AE
Tel: 01453 760960 Fax: 01453 760955
33 Church Street, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8JG
Tel/Fax: 01666 503552
The Museum, 64 Barton Street, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 5PX
Tel: 01684 295027 Fax: 01684 292277
Town Hall, High Street, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire GL54 5LJ
Tel: 01242 602925 Fax: 01242 573902
For further information about Stroud see www.stroudtown.com
Winchcombe community and information site: www.winchcombe.info
Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty website: www.cotswoldsaonb.com