Chipping Campden is located north and west of London in Gloucestershire. We caught a slow train from London which stopped at many small towns (one being Oxford) finally arriving at Moreton in Marsh. From there we took a local bus which stopped for us right across the street from Bramley House B and B. Jane Povey and her husband, Dave were our wonderful hosts. By the end of our stay we referred to Jane as “the angel of The Cotswold.” Here’s an example.
One morning we had planned to take a hike on the public footpaths. Jane recommended we go to Dover’s Hill which has a wonderful overlook of all The Cotswold. Since Ken’s been having some angina she asked Dave if he’d drop us at the top of the hill where we could pick up the footpath, see the view and hike back into Chipping Campden. So off we went with Dave.
At the top of the hill we looked all around saw the sheep and the pastures and a footpath and instead of turning left we turned right. After tromping around and heading down hill for an hour or so we landed up in Aston Suredge a community on the opposite side of the escarpment from Chipping Campden!
So off we set to walk up the hill Dave had driven us up earlier in the day, and head down the correct side. It so happened that Dave went by us on the road and called Jane to tell her he’d seen us tramping up the steep hill. In minutes, there was Jane who sweetly drove us back to the B and B and didn’t laugh too hard–at least not to our faces! I’m sure everyone–us included–got quite a laugh out of this exploit.
What a change from London: Chipping Campden, a meeting place in the valley, has been a thriving village for centuries. It is quiet, beautiful, rural, universally clean and uniform in the use of the golden stone quarried for centuries from nearby deposits. You can see newer homes built outside the old villages but most attempt to build in the vernacular style of the area. There are no Starbucks, no Gaps, no outposts of other big box stores–British or American. What a delight! My soul was so nourished by the 4 days we spent there.
The area is a fine place to raise sheep and most villages’ wealth arose from the sale of wool. Many of the finest buildings, including the lovely church in Chipping Campden–St James–were built by wool wealth. It’s easy to encounter sheep just about wherever you walk. They are rarely disturbed from their grazing and gaze benignly at you as you meander along the footpaths.
We spent two days in the company of Barry Sabin, a lad of the Cotswold, a fine driver and knowledgeable raconteur. Barry took us to see numerous little villages only a native son could possible find and navigate. Later in our trip Barry drove us to Blenheim Palace. His wife, Sally, a local girl too, went along. Sally was due for a rest. She designs hanging baskets and manages a landscape business. As you can imagine she’s been busy for the past several months! We spotted her baskets hanging in many of the villages we drove through. Barry also drove us by another “palace”–Dormy House a 10 million pound hotel and golf course built at 1,000′ elevation with a commanding view over The Cotswold valley.
Barry introduced us to staddles, thatching, dry masonry, “soldiers,” and myriad other details of Cotswold life which were fascinating and illuminating.
I felt I’d had a very good course in the life and times of The Cotswold. We also saw the encampment where Polish refugees during World War II were housed in quonset-like huts. Barry remembers going to school with some of these children. There is a small monument to those Polish people–about 1,000, who were settled there. The area has been reborn as a small industrial park with welders, iron workers, powder coaters, and so on making a living in this ramshackle collection of huts and sheds.
We had many adventures and thoroughly enjoyed poking around the village. I’ll detail some of that in a subsequent post.