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Literary Cotswolds

13th March 2017

Categories: Media News

Planning a literary getaway? The Cotswolds has inspired many of our great writers and poets over the centuries. Here’s just a few of the literary connections you can explore on your next visit.

Laurie Lee Wildlife Way post

The Cotswolds village of Slad is immortalised in Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie. Lee is buried in the local church which features a stained glass window in his memory. Visitors to the Woolpack pub can sit in Laurie Lee’s chair. Follow the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way, a six-mile circular walk around the Slad Valley with ten posts featuring poems inspired by the landscape.  An 11th post can be found in the Museum in the Park in Stroud where visitors can also see Lee’s old school desk and a recreation of his mother’s sitting room. 


The Cotswolds town and area surrounding Moreton-in-Marsh inspired the fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien, who was a regular visitor. Moreton is thought to be Bree in Lord of the Rings and The Bell Inn in the heart of the town is the inspiration for The Prancing Pony. The Four Shire Stone (Three Farthing Stone), The Rollright Stones (Barrow Downs) and Broadway Tower (Amon Hen) are all only a few miles from Moreton.


Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester is packed with illustrations of buildings in Gloucester which you can still see today. Beatrix Potter often stayed with a cousin at Harescombe Grange, between Gloucester and Stroud, and it was on one of these visits in the 1890s that she heard the story concerning the mysterious completion of a waistcoat that was to inspire this classic children’s tale. You can even visit the original House of the Tailor of Gloucester, now a charming shop and museum in Gloucester.


J.M.Barrie, author of the much loved story Peter Pan, took inspiration from his time in the picturesque village of Stanway in the north Cotswolds. He spent the Summers between 1923 and 1932 staying in the impressive Stanway House, which he rented it from the Earl of Wemyss, whose daughter Lady Cynthia Asquith was a good friend of Barrie's. Such was Barrie's love of the game of cricket, he paid for a cricket pavilion at Stanway House and founded an amateur cricket team, the Allahakbarries, for his friends (who included the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Jerome K. Jerome, G. K. Chesterton, A. A. Milne, and P. G. Wodehouse!).


Jane Austen is thought to have drawn inspiration from the village of Adlestrop and surrounding area for her novel Mansfield Park. Austen regularly visited her cousins, the Leighs, who lived in the village.
Adlestrop was also immortalised in the Edward Thomas poem Adlestrop published in 1917 which describes an uneventful journey made by Thomas on the Oxford to Worcester train which made an unscheduled stop at Adlestrop railway station. The station closed in 1966 but you can still see the station sign at the village bus stop, where there is also a plaque with quotes from Thomas’ poem.


Nancy Mitford's semi-autobiographical novels Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love were inspired by her time as a young woman living at Asthall Manor in the Cotswolds. The Mitford family lived there from 1919-1926 before moving to nearby Swinbrook. In The Pursuit of Love, the fictional Alconleigh is based largely on Asthall. Nancy is buried in the churchyard in Swinbrook alongside some of her sisters.


T.S. Eliot was a regular visitor to Chipping Campden, and often went walking in the Cotswold hills with his friend Emily Hale. His poem Burnt Norton, the first of a set of four poems in Four Quartets, was inspired by a visit to Norton House, a manor house near Aston Subedge in the Cotswolds. Eliot also wrote a wonderful children’s poem, The Country Walk, which highlights his fear of cows whilst on one of his Cotswold rambles!