Nothing says traditional England so much as a pretty thatched cottage with roses trailing around the door! Over the past 20 years of exploring England and taking thousands of photos (almost 300,000 at this point), I've seen plenty of jaw-dropping 'I want to live there' cottages. These 8 are among my favourites.

Thatched cottage in Helford, Cornwall
Thatched cottage in Helford, Cornwall
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1. Helford, Cornwall

I'll start with this beautiful cottage in the village of Helford, Cornwall. My wife and I were visiting the Lizard Peninsula and decided to take a detour to Helford.

We were drawn by the connection to author Daphne Du Maurier, who stayed in the village and set her novel Frenchman's Creek nearby. A short trail from the village takes you to the real Frenchman's Creek, used by Du Maurier as the setting for an encounter between her heroine and a privateer.

There is no automobile traffic through Helford (at least none for visitors) so we had to park in the visitor car park beside the pretty little church, overlooking the tidal harbour.

We descended the hill to the harbour and discovered a footbridge leading across the water to the north bank, where most of the village lies. At the far side of the footbridge was this gorgeous thatched cottage, just one of numerous thatched cottages in the village.

Self-Catering near Helford


Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon
Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon
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2. Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Perhaps the most famous thatched cottage in England and a very popular destination for tourists visiting William Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon.

The cottage is technically not in Stratford at all but in the neighbouring village of Shottery, however, the village has gradually merged with the urban sprawl of Stratford over time and is easily accessible on foot from the town centre.

Shakespeare came here to court Anne Hathaway, his first wife, and the house is much as he would have known it, including a cottage garden planted with species that were popular in Tudor times.

Self-catering near Stratford-upon-Avon


Dunster, Somerset
Thatched cottage in Dunster, Somerset
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3. Dunster, Somerset

I was actually on my way to the historic Gallox packhorse bridge in Dunster. The signposted route from the village centre took me down a quiet street leading past several beautiful thatched cottages. The cottages immediately opposite were just as picturesque but this one happened to be lit by the afternoon sun.

Dunster is well worth an extended visit. The highlight is Dunster Castle, a medieval fortress now owned by the National Trust, who also maintain the historic water mill just a stone's throw from this cottage.

Then there's the Gallox Bridge, a lovely medieval packhorse bridge, and the remains of a medieval market cross, both in the care of Historic England.

You can also see the remains of a historic dovecote and the superb medieval parish church. Dunster is one of my favourite villages in England - and for good reason.

Self-catering near Dunster


Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
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4. Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

I love this cottage, but that may be because I've photographed it so often! Chipping Campden is a pretty market town in the North Cotswolds, not far from the village where we have lived for the past 14 years. We come to Chipping Campden often, and I must have photographed this cottage at least a half-dozen times.

Having photographed it so often I knew that the best time of day to take photos was the late afternoon, when the sun was on the front facade and the garden, and the best time of year was in summer when the purple flowers lining the garden path were in bloom.

The cottage is located on the corner of Sheep Street, an easy stroll from the High Street and the picturesque market hall. If you carry on down the road you will find another 4 or 5 pretty thatched cottages, equally picturesque but this one is my favourite.

Self-catering near Chipping Campden


Ashton-under-Hill, Worcestershire
Thatched cottage in Ashton-under-Hill, Worcestershire
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5. Ashton-under-Hill, Worcestershire

I found this cottage by accident. My wife and I were on an outing on a sunny spring day, and we decided to visit the historic medieval church of St Barbara in Ashton. By complete chance, our satnav directed us up the main road through the village.

Not knowing exactly where the church was or if it had a dedicated parking area we stopped along the road verge when the satnav showed about 10 yards to our destination.

It was only after we had stopped and got out of the car that we realised we were standing directly in front of this beautiful thatched cottage, and there was another, equally beautiful, directly opposite.

The church, as well as the village, was well worth the visit.

Self-catering near Ashton-under-Hill


How many thatched houses are there in the UK?

According to the thatching specialist company Thatching Advisory Services (TAS), there are 60,000 thatched properties in the UK. There are also roughly 900 master thatchers to care for them.

Welford-on-Avon, Warwickshire
Thatched cottage in Welford-on-Avon, Warwickshire
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6. Welford-on-Avon, Warwickshire

If there is a prettier village than Welford-on-Avon, I want to see it. The core of the village surrounds the historic medieval church of St Peter, erected, as the name suggests, by a ford across the River Avon in the heart of Warwickshire.

The streets surrounding the church are dotted with stunningly beautiful thatched cottages, many of which make regular appearances on calendar covers.

Probably the most frequently photographed cottage in Welford is this one, dubbed Ten-Penny Cottage. The name refers to the annual rent charged when the cottage was built. I imagine it would cost a good deal more today!

Self-catering near Welford-on-Avon


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Godshill, Isle of Wight
Godshill, Isle of Wight
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7. Godshill, Isle of Wight

The village of Godshill is known for the cluster of pretty thatched cottages grouped around the historic medieval parish church of All Saints. I had seen photos of Godshill before and was determined to capture an image with cottages in the foreground and the church tower in the background. Unfortunately, I didn't realise what time of day would be best to capture that photo.

I arrived in the early morning on a sunny spring day, only to find that the sun was shining directly in my face. However, if I turned around and looked behind me, it was shining on this incredibly picturesque thatched cottage. Talk about a happy accident!

Godshill has outgrown its ancient historic core, and much of the village is now dotted with unremarkable modern houses, but it is well worth exploring the area around the church, for there are perhaps a dozen extremely pretty cottages like this one still standing.

Self-catering near Godshill


Taynton, Oxfordshire
Thatched Cottage, Taynton, Oxfordshire
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8. Taynton, Oxfordshire

Taynton is a small village just outside Burford, Oxfordshire, the 'Gateway to the Cotswolds'. It is also just a few miles down the road from our family home.

Despite the proximity, we had never visited the village. One crisp winter morning I decided to rectify that oversight and explore the historic parish church of St John the Evangelist. I wasn't sure exactly where the church was located in the village. so I simply turned off the Burford road and parked by the side of the road at what seemed like the village centre.

As I walked along the road, looking for a glimpse of a church tower over the trees, I found myself walking beside this beautiful thatched cottage, with the golden winter sunlight striking the front facade. The church was forgotten for the moment while I whipped out my camera and photographed the cottage.

You can see in the background that the neighbouring cottage is also thatched, though these were the only two thatched cottages I was able to find in the whole village. Both cottages are made of the locally quarried Cotswold stone, known for its honey-coloured tones.

Self-catering near Burford and Taynton


These are just 8 of the thousands of thatched cottages I've had the pleasure of photographing over the years. Which is your favourite?

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