Little Rissington church
Little Rissington church


A quiet village just outside the popular Cotswold destination of Bourton-on-the-Water, Little Rissington is worth visiting for its 12th-century church with its moving memorial to RAF servicemen.

The Village

Little Rissington is a very small village, even by Cotswold standards, with most of the houses strung out along the main road from Bourton-on-the-Water. The architecture is typical Cotswold style, with small cottages fronted by flower-boxes.

The village is forever associated with RAF Little Rissington, the air base which was located just up the road from here during WWII. The base is gone now, though the base buildings have now become the new village of Upper Rissington, and the aerodrome is now used for hang-gliding.

17th-century Cotswold stone cottages
17th-century Cotswold stone cottages

The main attraction is the 12th century church, which lies apart from the village up a short path to the west of the road. There is some element of mystery in the church's location, as it seems that in the Middle Ages the village was actually clustered about the church, as you would expect.

However, for a reason that we can only guess, the village moved away from the church, leaving it exposed and somewhat isolated on its hilltop overlooking Bourton. Perhaps plague, that ever-present scourge of medieval times, caused a shift in population.

In any event, the church repays a visit; it is small, composed of a nave, north aisle, and sanctuary. On entering, look to the west end, where the last pillar supporting the nave roof is canted at an alarming angle.

RAF memorial, Little Rissington
RAF memorial, Little Rissington

The interior is simple, almost plain, yet very appealing. Look to the west window, where modern stained glass shows aeronautic symbols in memory of the RAF servicemen stationed here who lost their lives during the Second World War. Outside the church to the east is a moving memorial to those men; neat rows of plain white headstones ranged about a tall cross.

Leave the RAF memorial and pass to the far west corner of the churchyard. There the ground falls away to provide a lovely view over fields to the vale below towards Bourton on the Water.

On Pound Lane is a row of Cotswold stone cottages described as perhaps the best example in Gloucestershire of 17th-century vernacular building. Opposite the lower entrance to Pound Lane is the old vicarage, a lovely 18th-century building.

Down the road towards Bourton is Rissington Manor, an early 17th-century manor house, and below the gates to the Manor, across the road, is a drive that leads to Rissington Mill, a former corn mill dating to the mid 18th century. Though the building is 18th century, there are records of milers here from the time of the Domesday Book, and we know that the Bennett family were millers here for over 2 centuries, from 1548-1755.

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About Little Rissington
Address: Little Rissington, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England
Attraction Type: Village
Location: Little Rissington is half-way up a hill just a mile from the outskirts of Bourton-on-the-Water via Rissington Road.
Location map
OS: SP192 197
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


HeritageWe've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.

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12th century (Time Period) -


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

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