From Oliver Cromwell’s favourite retreat to the home of a scandalous beauty, check into one of Britain’s historic Cotswold inns this winter…
The Cotswolds is a picturesque region of rolling hills, winding rivers and pretty medieval villages that extends across six English counties.
It’s an area that offers the English idyll, attracting famous guests through the years – several of TS Eliot’s poems were inspired by his visits, Peter Pan author JM Barrie would spend his summers in the north Cotswolds and HRH Prince Charles even owns a house here.
Constructed from honey-coloured limestone, many of these hamlets have protected status, making them a magnet for film and TV crews, who flock here to shoot period dramas ranging from Tess of the D’Urbervilles to Downton Abbey. If you’re looking for somewhere to bed down for the night then you can stay in one of the region’s many historic houses. Atmospheric, cosy and welcoming, these properties are the perfect place for a festive break.
This old mansion – scene of much scandal during Queen Victoria’s reign when its owner Edward Law, soon to become the first Earl of Ellenborough, married society beauty Jane Digby, who went on to have a string of scandalous affairs – is now a luxurious hotel.
Set in a beautiful Cotswold valley, this Tudor manor is said to be haunted by the ghost of Queen Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI, who has been spotted wandering along the Great Chamber. Today it offers a selection of lovely cottages within its grounds.
This 600-year-old inn, set in a small Cotswold village, offers charming rooms within its centuries-old walls. The Old Swan is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Yorkist Francis Lovell, who went into hiding here after the Battle of Bosworth, and whose skeleton was said to have been discovered several centuries later.
Originally built in 1420 as a collection of weavers’ cottages, this is as cosy an inn as one could imagine, retaining many original features such as flagstone floors and Gothic windows. The pub serves traditional dishes and real English ales on tap, perfect for a cosy winter’s evening.
Stay in this enchanting hotel housed in a former 17th-century coaching inn (though most of the buildings were remodelled in the 19th century) in the pretty village of Bibury, described by Arts and Crafts pioneer William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England.”
Dating back to the 13th century and recorded in the Domesday Book, this is a quintessential country house hotel with antique fixtures and fittings where you’ll be greeted on arrival by smartly dressed maids who rush forward to help you with your luggage before guiding you, through high raftered halls, to your elegant room.
This ancient building, which retains much of its 12th-century character, is located in the picturesque village of Castle Combe, a popular film location, and was supposedly where the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell came to escape the stress of courtly life.
For the full feature see the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of BRITAIN
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