History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
There is nothing spectacular about the Cotswold village - technically a town - of Winchcombe. It is really much like a hundred other Cotswold villages - which is to say it is a beautifully timeless place of matchless warm-toned Cotswold stone cottages, tea shops, and traditional medieval architecture. The church of St. Peter has an excellent collection of gargoyles, one of which is said to be the model for Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter.
Nearby is St Kenelm's Well, commemorating a 9th-century martyr. The story goes that the boy king Kenelm was murdered by his sister. When the men bearing the body stopped here to rest, they set down Kenelm's coffin and a spring gushed forth from the ground. The waters of Kenelm's Well are reputed to have healing properties.
Just a mile from Winchcombe are the ruins of Hailes Abbey. At one time Hailes was one of the most popular pilgrimage centres in Britain, as the abbey claimed to possess a phial of Christ's blood. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries destroyed the Abbey, the "blood" was revealed to be a mixture of saffron and honey. Hailes Abbey today is a peaceful sight, with ruined arches lying in a quiet meadow.
So popular was the abbey to medieval pilgrims that the Prior of Hailes built a hotel to house the richer visitors. This hotel lives on as The George Hotel. The building itself has been altered several times, but still retains an open gallery over the courtyard.
Most people come to Winchcombe to visit Sudeley Castle. The castle, which looks down on the village, was the final home of Queen Catherine Parr after the death of Henry VIII.
The former queen married Sir Thomas Seymour a few weeks after Henry's death. Apparently the scoundrel Seymour then made advances towards princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I. The pregnant Catherine fled in anger to Sudeley, where she soon after gave birth to a baby girl.
Unfortunately, complications from the birth set in, and Catherine died a few days later. She is buried in the chapel, and the castle has displays of objects associated with her, including her prayer book, and a letter she wrote accepting Thomas Seymour's marriage proposal. The castle gardens are quite lovely, and well worth a visit.
Just a short walk along the Cotswold Way from Winchcombe brings you to one of the finest Neolithic remains in Britain, Belas Knap burial chamber. Belas Knap was built about 3000 BC as a many-chambered tomb. When the site was excavated in 1863, 38 skeletons were found. Remains from the excavation are on display at the church museum in Winchcombe.
Address: Winchcombe, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England
Attraction Type: Town
OS: SP025 283
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Historic Time Periods:
Find other attractions tagged with:
9th century (Time Period) - burial chamber (Historical Reference) - castle (Architecture) - chambered tomb (Historical Reference) - Elizabeth I (Person) - Henry VIII (Person) - Medieval (Time Period) - Neolithic (Architecture) - Queen Elizabeth (Person) -
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Winchcombe, St Peter's Church - 0.2 miles (Historic Church)
Sudeley Castle - 0.5 miles (Historic House)
St Kenelm's Well - 1.2 miles (Historic Church)
Belas Knap - 1.8 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Hailes Abbey - 1.9 miles (Abbey)
Hailes Church, Gloucestershire - 1.9 miles (Historic Church)
Stanley Pontlarge, St Michael's Church - 2 miles (Historic Church)
Farmcote, St Faith's Church - 2.3 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Winchcombe: