As a protected landscape and celebrated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds are captivating, charming, and beautiful. But of all the pretty and quaint villages found in the region, which are the most picturesque?
Artist William Morris once said that the prettiest village in the whole of England is Bibury. Located 10 kilometers north of Cirencester, today Bibury is best known for ‘Arlington Row’ – a row of quintessentially Cotswold cottages that were first constructed in 1380 and were used in the filming of the 2007 romantic fantasy Stardust. Bibury is perfect for a day out, not just because of its picture-postcard feel, but it’s also home to many tea rooms, coffee shops, and small independent stores loved by tourists. Housing a population of only 627 people, it’s quaint, quiet and peaceful.
2. The Slaughters
The stunning villages of Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter are beautiful and secluded hamlets tucked away in the heart of the sleepy Cotswolds. Don’t be put off by the name ‘slaughter’, it derives from the Old English word ‘slothre’ meaning ‘muddy place’! In reality, The Slaughters are home to quaint honey-coloured stone architecture, tiny little cottages, and the famous Copse Hill Road, which won the Google Street View Award for “The Most Romantic Street in Britain”. With five acres of beautiful landscaped gardens, the nearby Lower Slaughter Manor Gardens, is another beautiful spot worth exploring.
Bourton-on-the-Water is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque villages in the whole of England, let alone the Cotswolds. The village is best known for its five tiny stone bridges which were erected over the River Windrush, which runs through the village. They were built between 1654 and 1953, leading to the village adopting the famous moniker of the “Venice of the Cotswolds”.
4. Castle Combe
Nestled in Wiltshire in the southern Cotswolds, Castle Combe’s idyllic high street is perhaps its greatest draw. You can see why it’s often called “The Prettiest Village in England”; nestled on the edge of the Bybrook River, its streets are lined with pretty Cotswold stone cottages. In 2011 Castle Combe was a shooting location for Steven Spielberg’s wartime epic, War Horse. The bridge in the heart of the village is one of the most photogenic places in the region. Another popular destination in Castle Combe is the 14th-century church of St. Andrew, which houses the Castle Combe Clock — said to be the oldest English medieval clock still in use today
The Cotswold village of Broadway is renowned for its stone cottages, picturesque streets and medieval architecture. Home to tea rooms, small shops, world class accommodation, and an incredible adventure playground, Broadway draws in a great number of tourists each year. Often referred to as ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’ and the ‘Show Village of England’, Broadway is home to the Cotswold’s highest castle, ‘Broadway Tower’, which commands views over sixteen counties. The Cotswolds stretch across five English counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. The region is home to countless picturesque villages and towns. Explore the Cotswolds yourself and discover your personal favourite place.