Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the most famous towns in The Cotswolds. Surrounded by the rolling Cotswold hills, Stow was built on the old Roman road called The Fosse Way and is the highest town in The Cotswolds standing at 800 feet above sea level. Over the years, Stow-on-the-Wold was a regular meeting place as six roads leading from various locations joined in the town, making it a popular place to gather. Stow is a beautiful market town where the shops and town centre is located around a big market square that is accompanied by cafes serving homemade good, restaurants with a la carte menus, English antique shops, quirky gift shops and stunning art galleries.
The Town Square
The town square in Stow is typical of an original Cotswold sheep market and the narrow alleys leading away from the market square were purposefully built for farmers to count and control their sheep. Indeed, one of the main roads leading into the square is called Sheep Street. At one end of the market square there is an ancient stone cross and at the other end are the town penal stocks which sit between to large elm trees. The town was founded in the 11th Century and was originally known as Edwardstow. Regular markets have taken place in the town since 1107 when a charter was granted by King Henry II.
Stow-on-the-Wold was a main contributor in The Cotswolds towards the wool trade, the main trade that the area is famous for until the cloth industry moved North. The town was well-known for its annual fairs where animals were traded and history says that twenty thousand sheep were once sold. In fact, the town was granted the right to have annual animal fairs in 1330 and since the sheep trade has reduced, horses have taken their place. The Gypsy Horse Fair still takes places in fields just outside the town centre where hundreds of gypsies gather twice a year to sell on their horses and ponies. If you’re visiting during this time, you will see horse drawn carriages and Gypsy caravans everywhere.
The Royalist Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold is one of the oldest inns in England dating back as far as 987AD. The hotel still has many of its original features, including an incredible medieval fireplace with supposed ‘witch’s marks’ which are believed to have been carved to ward off spells. The hotel staff claim there are also a few resident ghosts too and it’s been noted that there is a secret tunnel that leads from the cellars to the street. The Kings Arms in the market square has also had some historical times, believed to have been visited by King Charles I in 1645 before the Battle of Naseby. In 1646 the Royalist army moved through The Cotswolds trying to meet up with King Charles at Oxford. They were confronted in Stow by a Parliamentary force and a fierce and fatal fight broke out with over 1000 Royalists being defeated and imprisoned in the church.
A Cotswold Daytrip
Everywhere in The Cotswolds is steeped in history and throughout the years the area has remained unspoilt, keeping its untouched glow of English natural beauty. The honey-coloured Cotswold stone is typical of the area, a pale-yellow limestone that is used to construct most of the villages and towns. Pretty Cotswold market towns present idyllic working towns where friendly people pass you by in the street and smile. Sleepy Cotswold villages and hamlets huddle between towns or burrow between the Cotswold hills and woodland. If you’re visiting The Cotswolds, expect to see nothing but stunning countryside, chocolate box villages and thatched cottages because it really is a quintessential vision of natural beauty. There are many tourist attractions if you are looking for more to do, but just to experience this beautiful and vast area for a day, is completely worthwhile. If you’re staying in London and would like to see true English countryside at its best on a 6-hour daytrip, then a short train journey of 1hr 40 mins will take you to nearby town Moreton-in-Marsh, in the heart of The Cotswolds. The Cotswolds Mystery Tour pick you from the train station in our 7-seater luxury minibus and take you to all the most beautiful places in the area. There’s no need to bring a packed lunch as we stop for morning coffee and a pastry at a village café, then take you to a delightful 16th Century inn for a tasty lunch. When the tour is finished, you will be taken back to the train station in time to be back in London for the evening. Envisage a day of sightseeing, fascinating history and a magical mystery tour to take you to some of the prettiest places in the South of England. The Cotswolds Mystery Tour is the perfect daytrip to see the beautiful sights of The Cotswolds – Book now to avoid disappointment!