In History

Enjoy some quirky historic facts about the beautiful Cotswolds – from ancient discoveries to historic ports, famous figures from history to heroes of the civil war.

Septarian Nodule found at Cotswold Water Park
The Cotswold Water Park has been at the centre of an incredibly rare discovery - a Septarian Nodule from the Jurassic period (c 165 million years old) – basically an amazing 1 metre diameter, half ton rock formation - dating back to when this whole area was a warm shallow tropical sea. Half of the amazing formation is now on display in the Waterside Café at the Cotswold Water Park.

Exhibition in Sabrina 5 at the National Waterways Museum Gloucester
Step back in time and explore the history of the Cotswold waterways from Roman times to the present days at The National Waterways Museum Gloucester.  Housed in a Grade II Victorian warehouse, you can find out all about the people who lived and worked there – as well as marvel at the original Dunkirk Little Ship floating alongside the working steam dredger.  Don’t miss the chance to explore the massive historic barge Sabrina 5 – transformed from a 1940s cargo carrier to a floating exhibition and education centre. 

The Fleece at Cirencester
The Fleece at Cirencester is steeped in history dating back to the English Civil War.  In 1651, King Charles II hid from Cromwell’s troops in the building – posing as Lady Jane Lane’s manservant and remaining undetected before fleeing the country for France.  It couldn’t be a better time to visit and soak up the historic atmosphere: the hotel has undergone a major refurbishment and is now home to a new bar, dining areas and courtyard – perfect for a historic weekend break. 

Robert Welch Studio Shop in Chipping Campden (photo c1968)
About to celebrate 50 years in Chipping Campden High Street, the Robert Welch Studio Shop began as several buildings – parts of which date back to the early 1600s - and whose various incarnations have seen them used as cottages, a beer house, a café, bakery, grocers, bookshop and antique shop!  It wasn’t until 1969 that the famous Robert Welch opened his shop – now an iconic image on the high street. 

Katherine Parr's tomb at Sudeley Castle
Just eight miles from picturesque Cheltenham is Sudeley Castle and Gardens – the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds!  The last of Henry VIII’s six wives, Katherine Parr lived and died in the castle and is now entombed in a beautiful 15th century church in the award-winning gardens.  Don’t miss the '20 Treasures of Sudeley' – a collection of artefacts and works of art of great historical importance which includes Katherine Parr’s love letters, lacework reputedly made by Anne Boleyn, bed hangings made for Marie Antoinette and Charles I’s personal beer jugs! 

Stained glass windows in Gloucester Cathedral
Whether you’re mad about Harry Potter, fascinated by royal history, or love stained glass and archaic architecture, Gloucester Cathedral has it all.  One of the finest medieval buildings in the country, the cathedral boasts a thousand years of history and architecture and is open every day from 8am to evensong.  With beautiful fan-vaulted medieval cloisters, the spectacular Great East Window and the tombs of King Edward II and Robert Duke of Normandy, as well as the cloisters used for the filming of Harry Potter - it’s a wonderful place to explore. 

The Ebrington Arms
It’s a historic year at the wonderful Ebrington Arms near Chipping Campden.  2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the pub’s licensed status, and ten years since the owners Claire and Jim Alexander took over!  Since 2007 they’ve won 2 AA rosettes for 7 years running and been awarded the North Cotswold CAMRA Pub of the Year.  It’s also been voted ‘No 1 UK Village Inn 2017’ by The Times – a great way to celebrate a very special year. 

The Great Bath
For history on a grand scale there’s nowhere quite like the Roman City of Bath – a World Heritage City and home to the magnificent temple and bathing complex, the Roman Baths.  Built around the hot springs, where people have bathed for over 2,000 years, the baths offer a fascinating insight into those who lived and worked there.  Don’t miss the costumed characters who bring to life the stories of the past. 

Victorian builders at work on Hook Norton Brewery
If you like a back story to your beer, Hook Norton Brewery is a must-see.  The Clarke family and their ancestors have been handcrafting beer in the Cotswolds since 1849 and visitors today can visit the Victorian six storey tower brewery.  We're not quite sure what today's health inspectors would make of the uniform of the day - flat caps and waistcoats - but the brewery's still producing some wonderful brews!   

Ellenborough Park
Ellenborough Park near Cheltenham dates back to 1833 when the 1st Earl of Ellenborough – a former Governor General of India – bought the estate and married Jane Digby – a ‘scandalous society beauty’.  Lady Ellenborough’s carefree joie de vivre sealed her place in history and her spirit lives on within the hotel which was restored in 2008, combining the historical elements and features with the modern luxuries of one of the world’s finest hotels.

Costumed historic figures in Cheltenham
Cheltenham developed as a spa town after King George III visited to ‘take the waters’ in 1788.  Widely regarded as one of the country’s finest examples of Regency architecture, you’ll find beautiful buildings, tree-lined avenues, regency squares, parks and gardens, great shopping and numerous festivals as well as great theatre and museums.  Why not organise your own personal tour with Blue Badge Guide Anne Bartlett – an expert in this area of the Cotswolds – and further afield.

Tewkesbury Park Hotel
For history on a grand scale, head for Tewkesbury Park Hotel which overlooks the site of the famous Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.  There’s evidence of a large medieval house under and around the late 18th century Tewkesbury Park House which was the town’s manor house – Tewkesbury Lodge in the late 14th century.  Nowadays the hotel – which has undergone a massive refurbishment – offers some of the most luxurious accommodation in the Cotswolds. 

Rory Young's sculptures in the nave screen at St Alban's Cathedral
A major new exhibition at New Brewery Arts features the first ever display of the preparatory work, designs, sketches and maquettes of Cirencester sculptor Rory Young.  The works show how he created seven new painted stone statues for the empty medieval niches in the nave screen at St Albans Cathedral.  The exhibition reveals how an artist moves from inception to completion of a work and also includes medieval artefacts from the museum and county archives from the original abbey building.  

The Howard Arms - the young oak tree is now mature!
The small Cotswolds village of Ilmington has evidence of prehistoric life and human occupation since the Iron Age but you can enjoy a little more luxury at The Howard Arms – a lovely Cotswold pub with rooms steeped in history.  As well as being on the front line of the English Civil War, in 1934 King George V’s Christmas message was broadcast worldwide from Ilmington Manor.  Every May Day you can sample your own slice of English history as the morris men dance outside the pub. 




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