Cotswolds Travel Guide of Stow on the Wold
Lucy & Richard from Cotswolds Guided Tours love showing guests around on their private Cotswold tours & small group Cotswolds tours. For those wanting to explore the region or learn a little more about the locations we hope you find the information below useful!
At nearly 800ft Stow on the wold is the highest of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds Market Towns and famous as a centre for antiques. As you will see the town radiates from the market square surrounded by a beautiful selection of buildings. Originally called Stow St Edwards or Edwards Stow after the towns patron saint it is often referred to as Stow on the Wold where the wind blows cold because of this hillside location.
You will see as we walk around many references to the wool trade, Sheep Street is a good example. During its hay day as many as 20,000 sheep would be driven into the market square on sale days. Markets have taken place here since 1107 when Henry 1 granted a royal charter for a weekly market and over time Stow became one of the most flourishing wool markets in the country.
Many of the buildings in the market square date back to the 17th and 18th century.
The stone cross in the centre records the significant English Civil war battle which took place in neighbouring Donnington, the last main battle of the English civil war. 200 Royalist soldiers, who support King Charles 1, were slaughtered in the square and over 1500 soldiers were kept prisoner overnight in St Edwards Church. Such was the bloodshed that it is claimed that ducks were seen swimming in the blood giving rise to the name Digbeth St meaning Duck's Bath.
Poor foundations give some of the buildings there leaning appearance a good example of this is ‘the crooked house’ there are many tunnels underneath Stow, this happens to be one of the oldest buildings in Stow on the Wold dating back to the 15th century. This subterranean world has been little investigated but many a house in the Square lays claim to tunnels underground the majority of which have now been bricked up.
Originally on the site of the Scotts of Stow Outdoor Shop, the Court House. there is little resemblance to the original building except for the buttress which is believed to be of 13 / 14thC original. Dating back from Saxon times is the idea of a pledge to keep law and order. The system essentially was 'to lead by example'. There was a goal located in Stow on the Wold, however this building was lost long ago, it would have been located between the Outdoor Shop & the market cross.
Many of the buildings facing the square would earn extra money on market days. Only those properties whose doors fronted the square were able to open up and sell ale and food. So the travellers would know where to look out refreshments, green branches and twigs would be hung above the front door
The stocks sighted on the village green are 15th C the latest in a long line of stocks that have taken up position here.
As you will see the town of stow has many public houses, one of particular interest is the Kings Arms, dating back over 500 years it is believed to have an underground tunnel which leads out of the town towards the village of Maugesbury further down the hill to the Manor House. King Charles 1 is reputed to have stayed the night in the hotel on 8th May 1645 (a year before the last civil war battle).
Another impressive claim of Stow on the Wold is that it has the oldest inn, in England! The Guinness Book of Records 1995 authenticated the claim that this is the oldest Inn in England dating back to 987, it has had many former uses, hospice, a religious house, a private home and an inn. It has a medieval fireplace with marks to ward off evil, known locally as witch’s marks. Formerly called the Eagle and Child being inspired by a local legend of a child that was adopted after being found in an Eagles nest.
Places to Stay in Stow on the Wold
The Bell Inn, a country style pub, with boutique rooms & seasonal menu, located on Park Street a short walk from the market square. The rooms at the Kings Arms are all stylishly decorated in contemporary Cotswold country style with modern ensuite bathrooms. Each has a TV, hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities. The main building accommodates seven ensuite bedrooms, some with a steep climb up the original staircase which is rewarded with a view out across Market Square. The three split-level ‘stable’ rooms are in the courtyard on the site of the original coaching inn stables. These have a sitting room, TV, hot drink making facilities and ensuite bathroom downstairs, and a bedroom upstairs. Across the market square you will find the small but mighty Lucy's Tearooms, with two charming & comfortable B&B rooms, a delicious breakfast & onsite tearooms. Opposite you have the village green & the medieval stocks, here you will find the aptly named Old Stocks Inn, this recently refurbished the 17th-century coaching inn offers boutique luxury in a stunning location. With a selection of rooms, onsite restaurant & coffee shop it is easy to relax & soak up the charm of the Cotswolds. The Stag is also located in the heart of Stow on the Wold, with 22 rooms, a bar & restaurant they have a walled garden & courtyard, ideal to relax with a glass of wine after a day exploring the region. Stow Lodge, a 17th century manor house has been owned by the Hartley family for over sixty years. It retains plenty of old world charm and character, with traditional décor and furnishings throughout. Tastefully furnished ensuite bedrooms are situated in the main hotel or coach house, the property is set back from the market square in beautiful gardens.
Pulhams Buses have two routes from Stow on the Wold, the main bus stop is located on the corner of the town hall, opposite the 'crooked house' / Huffkins Bakery.
Run the 801 bus service which connects, Moreton-in-Marsh – Stow-on-the-Wold – Bourton-on-the-Water – Andoversford – Royal Well Cheltenham
Run the 855 bus service which connects, Moreton-in-Marsh – Stow-on-the-Wold – Bourton-on-the-Water – Northleach – Aldsworth – Bibury – Barnsley – Cirencester
If you are a fan of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, then you must not miss the 'North' door, located at the back of St Edwards church, just behind the market square.
It is believed that Tolkien used the north door as his inspiration for the description of the Doors of Maria. In a similar way to the scene from the Fellowship of the Rings, this door is very seldom opened.... Even Gandalf with a password would not be able to open this one !