Thursday, 25 July 2013


Today we started by stopping to see the view from the Barrow Wake Viewpoint over the Cotswolds.

We then stopped at Circencester village a charming town with a population of around 18,000 people set in the English Cotswolds. The town was once one of the most important places in Roman Britain, second only to London. Cirencester remains an important regional attraction and claims the title "The Capital of the Cotswolds".  If the Cirencester weather is fair then Cirencester Park, home to the Bathurst family, is a sea of tranquillity just a short walk from the centre of the bustling market town of Cirencester. On entering the Park from the Cecily Hill entrance you will see a long tree-lined path stretch into the distance. This is known as the Broad Ride and it is approximately 1 mile in length.

Parish Church of St John Baptist

You can even rent your own castle if you would like to

Circencester Park and the Broad Ride
Sudeley Castle's most famous resident was Queen Catherine Parr (1512-1548) the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. She only survived the king by a year, dying after giving birth to her only daughter Mary and is buried in the chapel. The castle's gardens laid out by Emma Dent who came to Sudeley in 1852 and set about restoring the house and gardens which are now one of the premier tourist attractions in the north Cotswolds. The gardens and medieval ruins surround the Castle, which sits nestled in the Cotswold Hills on the edge of the historic town of Winchcombe. The Queens Garden is amongst the finest rose gardens in England and sits on the original Tudor Parterre. St Mary’s Chapel is also found within the grounds. 

The Tithe Barn

St Mary's Chapel

St Mary's Chapel

Knot Garden

The toilet for Queen Catherine who had a lady in waiting to help wipe her bottom when needed. Can you believe it., the cushion is velvet.

Hailes Abbey was founded in 1245 or 1246 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, called "King of the Romans" and the younger brother of King Henry III of England. Once a Cistercian abbey dissolved Christmas Eve 1539, Hailes never housed large numbers of monks but had extensive and elaborate buildings. It was financed by pilgrims visiting its renowned relic, 'the Holy Blood of Hailes' allegedly a phial of Christ's blood. It is extraordinary to imagine how the monks and lay brothers once lived, ate and slept, and we even saw the clever Cistercian drain which still works after 750 years. 

We stopped and strolled through the Cotswolds village of Broadway in the English county of Worcestershire often referred to as the 'Jewel of the Cotswolds' and the 'Show Village of England' because of it's sheer beauty and magnificence. The 'broad way' leads from the foot of the western Cotswolds escarpment with a wide grass-fringed street lined with ancient honey coloured limestone buildings dating back to the 16th century. The village has one of the longest High Streets in England, nestled at the foot of Fish Hill (where apparently monks used to store fish and the 18th century ‘Fish Inn’ once stood).
The full extent of Broadway's majesty is its wide street lined with a delightful mix of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian buildings. The village's "broad way" (actually called High Street) lined with red chestnut trees, reflects the varied architectural history from grand Georgian buildings to ones of humbler though quaint beginnings that even reaches back, in places, to the Romans. There is Abbots Grange dating to the 14th century, the oldest domestic building in the village and one of the oldest in the country. There are Tudor Houses dating from 1660's and along with parts of the Lygon Arms Hotel.

Isn't this an amazing fruit & vegetable shop
Broadway Tower sometimes also referred to as Beacon or Fish Inn Tower is 65ft high and stands atop the hill overlooking the village. A much loved retreat for the Arts and Crafts Movement founder William Morris, this marvellous folly was built by the sixth Earl of Coventry’s family in the late 18th century, and on a clear day you can see no fewer than 14 counties from the top of it. At 1024 feet above sea level this is the second highest point in the Cotswolds. As part of an extensive country estate (which also houses an animal park), it lies close to an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, where eight graves complete with knives, spears, beads and brooches were excavated in 1954.

We are staying in our own castle for the next two nights called Eynsham Hall with over 300 years of history, Eynsham Hall is one of Oxfordshire’s great country houses. Standing proud amid over 3,000 acres of rolling parkland.

The Hall has a fascinating history starting in the early 1700’s when Willoughby Lacey, a wealthy local landowner, decided to enclose a huge section of his land in order to create the ultimate space in which to entertain guests, and pursue the popular outdoor sports of the day. The original house displayed the typical Georgian features so popular at the time, with Greek-style columns and elegant interiors.

In 1778, Lacey sold the estate to Robert Langford, a London auctioneer and newspaper proprietor who enjoyed the Hall until he died in 1785, at which point it was passed to James Duberley. Duberley lived in the Hall with his five daughters until 1799, when the Reverend John Robinson moved in. The Reverend Robinson only remained in residence for six years until 1805, when he sold the estate to Sir Thomas Parker, who’s father, the 4th Earl of Macclesfield, bought Eynsham Hall to serve as a Dower house for Shirburn Castle.

When Sir Thomas’ mother died the estate was sold to Sir Thomas Bazeley MP, who was well known in Lancashire as a high profile cotton manufacturer. Bazeley was not one of the most popular owners of Eynsham Hall, due to a decision he made about the holly trees in the Hall’s grounds. He was known for his hatred of holly, and when he took over the estate, he decreed that all the holly trees in the grounds should be cut down and burnt. According to English folklore it is very ‘unlucky to lay steel to them’ so the local country people were not pleased with this decision!

After the holly debacle, the local people were no doubt pleased when in 1866 Eynsham Hall came to the hands of the present freeholder’s grandfather, James Mason, a mining engineer who made his fortune mining copper in Portugal. Mason oversaw the addition of two further floors, one in 1843 and one in 1872.

The Hall remained in the Mason family, passing to James Francis Mason and his wife Lady Francis after the death of James Mason in 1903. In 1904, they oversaw the demolition of the entire original Georgian house, and the construction of the Jacobean mansion that we see today, which was completed in 1908.

The new build-hall boasted many of the amenities of the day such as its own water works, gas plant, electricity station and private telephone links to all parts of the estate. In fact even today we have done our best to uphold the traditions of keeping as much on site as possible - all of the bottled water served at Eynsham Hall is actually filtered on site in a bid to keep carbon emissions to a minimum.

Despite the interior of the house being preserved as largely as possible, the uses for this once family home have changed wildly over the years. Between 1908 and 1914 the Hall was a family home, but the outbreak of World War One forced the Hall to become part of the war effort, and it was turned into a venue for convalescing soldiers to return to for treatment.

After the war ended, the Hall spent time as a maternity hospital, and both the Air Ministry and Barclays Bank also used the venue for some time.

It was in 1946 that the Hall took on possibly it’s most famous guise. For 35 years it was to become a District Police Training Academy, and was the venue from which the country’s police force would spend 12 weeks learning their basic skills. Thousands of Police Constable Recruits passed through Eynsham Hall’s doors, and many still return today to reminisce about their first taste of police life here at Eynsham Hall.

In 1981 the Hall became a conference and training centre, and such was the popularity that within a few years it was necessary to build the Court and Lodge accommodation blocks in order to fulfill the requirements of the business.

In 2005 Eynsham Hall was acquired by the Cathedral Group, who has put in place a major investment program for the refurbishment and further development of the Hall and grounds.

Kevin seating back enjoying his beer before dinner on the lawn

View from our room

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