The COTSWOLDS is an area in south central
England containing the
Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills which rise from the meadows
of the upper Thames to an escarpment , known as the Cotswold Edge,
Severn Valley and
Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the
Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat
rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden coloured Cotswold
stone. It contains unique features derived from the use of this
mineral; the predominantly rural landscape contains stone-built
villages, historical towns and stately homes and gardens. The
population of the District is about 84,000.
Cotswolds covers 2,038 square km and is the second largest
protected landscape in the UK (second to the Lakes district.) Its
boundaries are roughly 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (145 km)
long, stretching south-west from just south of
just south of Bath . It lies across the boundaries of several English
Oxfordshire , and parts of
Warwickshire . The hills
give their name to the Cotswold local-government district in
Gloucestershire, which administers a large part of the area. The
highest point of the region is
Cleeve Hill at 1,083 ft (330 m), just
to the north of
* 1 History
* 2 Geography
* 3 Economy
* 4 Cotswold stone
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
* 6 Places of interest
* 7 Transport
* 7.1 Railways
* 8 In culture
* 9 Bordering area
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 External links
There is evidence of
Neolithic settlement from burial chambers on
Cotswold Edge, and there are remains of Bronze and Iron Age forts.
Later the Romans built villas, such as at Chedworth, settlements such
as Gloucester, and paved the Celtic path later known as
Fosse Way .
Middle Ages , thanks to the breed of sheep known as the
Cotswold Lion, the
Cotswolds became prosperous from the wool trade
with the continent, with much of the money made from wool directed
towards the building of churches. The area still preserves numerous
large, handsome Cotswold Stone "wool churches". The affluent area in
the 21st century has attracted wealthy Londoners and others who own
second homes there or have chosen to retire to the Cotswolds.
The name Cotswold is popularly attributed the meaning "sheep
enclosure in rolling hillsides", incorporating the term, wold ,
meaning hills. Compare also the Weald from the Saxon/German word Wald
meaning 'wood'. However, the
English Place-Name Society has for many
years accepted that the term Cotswold is derived from Codesuualt of
the 12th century or other variations on this form, the etymology of
which was given, 'Cod's-wold', which is 'Cod's high open land'. Cod
was interpreted as an Old English personal name, which may be
recognised in further names:
Cutsdean , Codeswellan, and Codesbyrig,
some of which date back to the eighth century AD. It has subsequently
been noticed that "Cod" could derive philologically from a Brittonic
female cognate "Cuda", a hypothetical mother goddess in Celtic
mythology postulated to have been worshipped in the Cotswold region.
Bibury , a typical Cotswold village
The spine of the
Cotswolds runs southwest to northeast through six
counties, particularly Gloucestershire, west
Oxfordshire and south
western Warwickshire. The northern and western edges of the Cotswolds
are marked by steep escarpments down to the Severn valley and the
Warwickshire Avon . This feature, known as the Cotswold escarpment, or
sometimes the Cotswold Edge, is a result of the uplifting (tilting) of
the limestone layer, exposing its broken edge. This is a cuesta , in
geological terms. The dip slope is to the southeast. On the eastern
boundary lies the city of
Oxford and on the west is
Stroud . To the
southeast, the upper reaches of the
Thames Valley and towns such as
Fairford are often considered to mark the limit
of this region. To the south the Cotswolds, with the characteristic
uplift of the Cotswold Edge, reach beyond Bath , and towns such as
Chipping Sodbury and Marshfield share elements of Cotswold character.
The area is characterised by attractive small towns and villages
built of the underlying Cotswold stone (a yellow oolitic limestone ).
This limestone is rich in fossils , particularly of fossilised sea
urchins . Cotswold towns include
Bourton-on-the-Water , Broadway ,
Chipping Norton ,
Moreton-in-Marsh , Nailsworth,
Stow-on-the-Wold , Stroud
Winchcombe . Bath ,
Gloucester , Stroud
Swindon are larger urban centres that border on, or are virtually
surrounded by, the Cotswold AONB.
The town of
Chipping Campden is notable for being the home of the
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts movement , founded by
William Morris at the end of the
19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.
William Morris lived
occasionally in Broadway Tower , a folly, now part of a country park.
Chipping Campden also is known for the annual Cotswold Olimpick Games
, a celebration of sports and games dating back to the early 17th
Tourism is a significant part of the economy in the general area,
generating about £1 billion in 2016 and supporting 200,000 jobs; this
data is for the
Cotswolds Tourism area, including Stroud, Cheltenham,
Gloucester and Tewkesbury. Some 38 million day visits were made to
Cotswolds that year. Agriculture is also important; 80% of the
land is used for this purpose. Barley, beans, oil seed rape and wheat
are the primary crops while rearing of sheep remains important.
According to the 2011 Census data for the Cotswolds, the wholesale
and retail trade was the largest employer (15.8% of the workforce),
followed by education (9.7%) and health and social work (9.3%). The
report also indicates that a relatively higher proportion of residents
were working in agriculture, forestry and fishing, accommodation and
food services as well as in and professional, scientific and technical
Unemployment in the District was among the lowest in the country.
Typical Cotswold stone
Cotswold stone is a yellow oolitic
Jurassic limestone . This
limestone is rich in fossils , particularly of fossilised sea urchins
. When weathered, the colour of buildings made or faced with this
stone is often described as honey or golden. The stone varies in
colour from north to south, being honey-coloured in the north and
north east of the region, as shown in Cotswold villages such as
Stanton and Broadway ; golden-coloured in the central and southern
areas, as shown in
Cirencester ; and pearly white in Bath
. The rock outcrops at places on the Cotswold Edge; small quarries
are common. The exposures are rarely sufficiently compact to be good
for rock-climbing . However, an exception is Castle Rock, on Cleeve
Hill , above Bishop\'s Cleeve , near
Cheltenham . Due to the rapid
expansion of the
Cotswolds in order for nearby areas to capitalize on
increased house prices, well known ironstone villages, such as Hook
Norton , have even been claimed by some to be in the
lacking key features of
Cotswolds villages such as Cotswold stone and
are instead built using a deep red/orange ironstone , known locally as
AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY
Rolling hills and farm fields that typify the Cotswolds
Cotswolds were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty (AONB) in 1966, with an expansion on 21 December 1990 to 1,990
square kilometres (768 sq mi). In 1991, all AONBs were measured again
using modern methods. The official area of the
Cotswolds AONB was
increased to 2,038 square kilometres (787 sq mi). In 2000, the
government confirmed that AONBs had the same landscape quality and
National Parks . The
Cotswolds AONB, which is the largest
England and Wales , stretches from the border regions of South
Warwickshire and Worcestershire, through West
Gloucestershire, and takes in parts of Wiltshire, Bath and North East
Somerset in the south.
Gloucestershire County Council is responsible
for sixty-three percent of the AONB.
Cotswolds Conservation Board has the task of conserving and
enhancing the AONB. Established under statute in 2004 as an
independent public body, the Board carries out a range of work from
securing funding for 'on the ground' conservation projects, to
providing a strategic overview of the area for key decision makers,
such as planning officials. The Board is funded by Natural
the seventeen local authorities that are covered by the AONB.
While the beauty of the
Cotswolds AONB is intertwined with that of
the villages that seem almost to grow out of the landscape, the
Cotswolds were primarily designated an Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty for the rare limestone grassland habitats as well as the old
growth beech woodlands that typify the area. These habitat areas are
also the last refuge for many other flora and fauna, with some so
endangered that they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside
Act 1981 .
Cleeve Hill , and its associated commons, is a fine example
of a limestone grassland and it is one of the few locations where the
Duke of Burgundy butterfly may still be found in abundance.
The uniqueness and value of the
Cotswolds is shown in the fact that
Special Areas of Conservation , three National Nature
Reserves and more than eighty Sites of
Special Scientific Interest are
The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens Service was established in 1968 to
help conserve and enhance the area, and now has more than 300 wardens.
Cotswold Way is a long-distance footpath, just over 100 miles
(161 km) long, running the length of the AONB, mainly on the edge of
the Cotswold escarpment with views over the
Severn Valley and the Vale
PLACES OF INTEREST
The "Secret Garden" at
Pictured right is the Garden of
Sudeley Castle at
Winchcombe . The
present structure was built in the 15th century and may have been on
the site of a 12th-century castle. It is situated north of the Spa
Cheltenham which has much Georgian architecture of some merit.
Close by on the A4135 in Beaverston village is the ancient fortress
Beverston Castle founded in 1229 by
Maurice de Gaunt .
Within the Cotswold area lies
Calcot Manor which can be accessed on
the A4135 road from Beaverston and is located some 4 miles (6 km) west
Tetbury . The Manor house building was established in about 1300
AD by Henry of Kingswood as a tithe barn.
Tetbury Market House is perhaps worth a mention as it was built in
1655. During the
Middle Ages ,
Tetbury became an important market for
Cotswold wool and yarn.
Chavenage House is an Elizabethan era manor
house 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) northwest of Tetbury. Of some interest
Chedworth Roman Villa . Recent excavations have revealed more of
the structure and mosaics, which are now excellently presented. It is
located just off the Roman road known as the Fosse Way, and 8 miles
(13 km) north of the important town of Corinium Dobunnorum
Cirencester Abbey was founded as an Augustinian
monastery in 1117 and
Malmesbury Abbey was one of the few English
houses with a continual history from the 7th century through to the
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries .
An unusual house in this area is
Quarwood , a Victorian Gothic house
Stow-on-the-Wold , Gloucestershire. The grounds, covering 42 acres
(17 ha), include parkland, fish ponds, paddocks, garages, woodlands
and seven cottages. Another is
Woodchester Mansion , an unfinished,
Gothic revival mansion house in Woodchester Park near Nympsfield in
Newark Park is a Grade I listed country
house of Tudor origins located near the village of Ozleworth,
Wotton-under-Edge , Gloucestershire. The house sits in an estate of
700 acres (300 ha) at the southern end of the Cotswold escarpment.
Of the many Manor houses built in the area
Owlpen Manor is a Tudor
Grade I listed manor house of the Mander family, situated in the
village of Owlpen in the
Stroud district of
Gloucestershire . Moving
further north, Broadway Tower is a folly on Broadway Hill, near the
village of Broadway, in the English county of Worcestershire. To the
south of the
Corsham Court an English country house in a
park designed by
Capability Brown situated in the town of
Corsham , 3
miles (5 km) west of Chippenham, Wiltshire.
Cotswolds roads from 1933
Cotswolds lie between the M5 , M40 and M4 motorways . The main
A-roads through the area are the A46 : Bath –
Stroud – Cheltenham
; the A419 :
Cirencester – Stroud; the A429 :
Moreton-in-Marsh ; and the A40 :
Burford – Cheltenham. These all roughly follow the routes
of ancient roads, some laid down by the Romans , such as
Ermin Way and
Fosse Way .
There are local bus services across the area, but some are
River Thames flows from the
Cotswolds and is navigable from
Inglesham and Lechlade-on-Thames downstream to
The area is bounded by two major rail routes: in the south by the
main Bristol–Bath–London High Speed line (including the South
Wales Main Line ) and in the west by the Bristol–
line . In addition, the
Cotswold Line runs through the
Worcester , and the
Golden Valley Line runs from
Gloucester , carrying high speed and local services.
Mainline, high-speed rail services to the big cities run from railway
stations such as Bath ,
Mainline trains run by
First Great Western
First Great Western to
London Paddington also
are available from Kemble station near Cirencester, Kingham station
near Stow-on-the-Wold, Charlbury station and
Additionally, there is the
Warwickshire Railway , a
steam heritage railway serving the
Cotswolds from Cheltenham
Racecourse through Gotherington ,
Winchcombe and Hayles Abbey Halt to
Toddington and Laverton. The preserved line is currently being
extended to Broadway, with the aim of reaching Honeybourne and making
a reconnection with the
Cotswold Line .
The Cotswold region has inspired several notable English composers.
In the early 1900s,
Herbert Howells and
Ivor Gurney used to take long
walks together over the hills, and Gurney urged Howells to make the
landscape, including the nearby
Malvern Hills , the inspiration for
his future work. Accepting, in 1916, Howells wrote his first major
piece, the Piano Quartet in A minor, inspired by the magnificent view
of the Malverns ; he dedicated it to "the hill at Chosen (
Ivor Gurney who knows it". Another contemporary of theirs, Gerald
Finzi , lived in nearby
Gustav Holst titled his Symphony in F major, Op. 8 H47 The Cotswolds.
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams composed his opera "Hugh the
Drover" from 1913 to 1924, which depicts life in a Cotswold village
and incorporates local folk melodies. In 1988 the 6th symphony (Op.
109) of composer
Derek Bourgeois was titled "A Cotswold Symphony".
Cotswolds are a popular location for filming scenes for movies
and television programmes. The film Better Things (2008), directed by
Duane Hopkins, is set in a small Cotswold village. The fictional
Agatha Raisin lives in the fictional village of
the Cotswolds. The
Chipping Norton set are based in the Cotswolds.
Other movies filmed in the
Cotswolds or nearby, at least in part,
include some of the Harry Potter Series (
Bridget Jones\'s Diary (film) (Snowshill), Pride and Prejudice
Cheltenham Town Hall) and
Braveheart (Cotswold Farm Park). In 2014,
some scenes of the 2016 movie Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking
Glass were filmed at the
Gloucester Docks just outside the Cotswold
District; some scenes for the 2006 movie Amazing Grace were also
filmed at the Docks.
The television series Father Brown was almost entirely filmed in the
Cotswolds. Scenes and buildings in
Sudeley Castle was often featured
in the series. The vicarage in Blockley was used for the main
character's residence while St. Peter and St. Paul church was St.
Mary’s in the series. Many exterior shots of village life in the
Downton Abbey TV series were filmed in Bampton,
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