Lower Slaughter Mill
Lower Slaughter Mill

Summary
A classic Cotswold village, with lovely cottages of Cotswold stone beside the sleepy River Eye.
The village
Lower Slaughter has been called the most beautiful village in England. While that assessment is certainly open to debate, there's no questioning the quiet beauty of this small Cotswold village near Bourton on the Water. Every guidebook or tourist brochure on the Cotswolds that I've ever read featured Lower Slaughter, usually with the words 'beauty spot' and 'picturesque' attached. Well, its true. The village truly is a beauty spot, and my goodness, it is picturesque.

You might think, given this publicity, that it would be overwhelmed with tourists, at least in the summer months. Blessedly, it has remained unspoiled and free from the hordes of tour buses that descend like swarms on the neighbouring village of Bourton on the Water. Part of this tranquility has to do with the narrow lanes leading to the village, which help keep out large vehicles.
The village hall at Lower Slaughter
The village hall
The name of the village may seem disconcerting at first; it has nothing to do with death, but is a modern mangling of the old English for "slough". The only "attraction" in Lower Slaughter is the Old Mill, with its restored water wheel and distinctive red brick tower. The Mill now houses a tea shop, a small store, and museum. As our daughter can attest, it also sells ice cream in summer. The mill, though it looks ancient, actually dates to the 19th century, and remained in use until 1958.
The real attraction of Lower Slaughter is the village itself, with cottages of Cotswold stone beside the slow-moving River Eye, really no more than a stream, crossed by two narrow footbridges. Across the lane from the river, half hidden by a stone wall, is Lower Slaughter Manor, a 17th century manor house, possibly incorporating bits of a medieval nunnery. The house was built for the Whitmore family, lords of the manor at Lower Slaughter from 1611. In the grounds is a 16th century double dovecot thought to be the largest in Gloucestershire. The manor is now a luxury hotel.

Footbridges across the River Eye
Footbridges across the River Eye
Almost directly opposite the manor, by a small bridge across the river, is Slaughters Inn, formerly Washbourne Court, a lovely 17th century complex of buildings with a wide lawn running down to the river. This is a popular place among locals for Sunday brunch on the lawn. The Inn was once a grammar school associated with Eton College.

A few paces along the road from the Inn is the Victorian village hall, a regular venue for shows by local artists. In fact, the first time I came here, years ago, on a bicycle trip with my wife, there was a show on. We leaned our bicycles against the wall outside, and enjoyed a lovely break enjoying paintings we couldn't afford!

The hall was designed by Thomas Colcutt in 1887 as a reading room, but is now the hall and multi-purpose venue. The hall cost 516 pounds to build, with the cost raised by public subscription plus a donation of 100 pounds by the lord of the manor, Charles Whitmore, who also donated the land to build on. The reading room opened in 1888, and remained in use until the 1920s when it became the village hall. Admission was only open to men and youths, who paid a monthly subscription of 2d.

The church, dedicated to St Mary, is lovely - there's that word again - with a tall spire. Though the current building owes much to a Victorian restoration in 1867 by architect Benjamin Ferrey, the history of the building goes back to the 13th century, and the nave aracade has survived from that medieval church.

An enjoyable signed footpath joins Lower Slaughter with Upper Slaughter a mile or so away, with lovely views across the fields to historic Upper Slaughter Manor (now a luxury hotel).

For a better look at the beauty of Lower Slaughter, please visit our Lower Slaughter Photo Gallery.

Notes
I have visited Lower Slaughter many times, and always left with a sense of peace. This is truly a beautiful little village. Come at evening of a long summer's day, and watch the golden sunlight strike the Cotswold stone cottages and reflect off the placid waters of the gently moving River Eye, and see if you don't agree. Certainly the users of Google Street View agree, for in 2011 Copse Hill in Lower Slaughter was named the Most Romantic Street in Britain in a user poll.

Location
off the A429

About Lower Slaughter
Address: Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England
Attraction Type: Town
Location map
OS: SP163 225
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS

Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest

Upper Slaughter Manor - 0.5 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Cold Aston, St Andrew's Church - 2.8 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Great Rissington, St John the Baptist - 3.7 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Notgrove, St Bartholomew's Church - 3.7 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Notgrove Long Barrow - 4.3 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Guiting Power, St Michael's Church - 4.4 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Turkdean, All Saints Church - 4.5 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Longborough, St James - 4.6 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating



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    Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')

Bourton-on-the-Water
Visitor Information Centre
Victoria Street
Bourton-on-the-Water
Gloucestershire
England
GL54 2BU
Tel: 01451 820 211
Email: info@visitbourton.com
Web: http://www.bourtoninfo.com
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