History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Broadway has long been a favourite of the coach-tour brigade, and hordes of tourists descend upon its wide main street every summer, drawn by its reputation as the 'Jewel of the Cotswolds'. Yet for all the bustle, Broadway is an attractive place, and if you can visit in off-peak season you'll find a lot to recommend the town.
As early as the 17th century the town was a major stopover point on the coaching route between London and Worcester. Many of the travellers would have stayed at the Lygon Arms, once the local manor house, and now a luxury hotel. The Lygon has the distinction of having hosted - at different times - both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.
The first recorded reference to the Lygon comes from 1532, and half the hotel bedrooms are in the original 16th century part of the building. There is even a thatched cottage in a private courtyard behind the hotel.
Of the numerous lovely buildings in the town itself, perhaps the most notable is Abbot's Grange, a 14th-century manor that once belonged to the abbots of nearby Evesham Abbey. The original hall, abbot's study, and chapel can still be seen, though the building was remodelled in the Tudor period.
The town is a popular antique centre - not surprising given the number of tourists who visit every year.
Gordon Russell Design Museum
Just one block north of the High Street is Russell Square, fronted by a long, low building shared by the Tourist Information Centre and the Gordon Russell Design Museum. Russell was an influential pioneer in furniture design, with a background in the Arts and Crafts Movement.
For over 60 years he produced fine furniture ranging from this building, which now showcases some of the best of his work. Among the highlights is the 'Lloyd George' chest, designed in 1928 and made of holly and Honduras mahogany.
Further up the High Street is The Ashmolean Museum Broadway, a branch of the world-famous Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The museum is set in Tudor House, originally a 17th-century coaching inn. The building has been at various times a school, a farmhouse, and a residence.
For eight decades it was home to H.W. Keil Ltd., one of the foremost antique dealers in the world. The museum has displays loaned from the main Ashmolean collections in Oxford, with a focus on objects of local interest, including Worcester porcelain, William Morris tiles, and Winchcombe Pottery. There are also paintings by masters such as Gainsborough and Reynolds.
On Upper High Street the scene changes from shops to period residences, many of them offering bed and breakfast accommodation. look for the Shakespeare Cottages, a row of terraced cottages dating to the 16th century.
Above Broadway proper is Broadway Tower (sometimes called Beacon Tower or Fish Inn Tower) a striking folly built by Lady Coventry in the 1790s.
The Tower was once the home of Arts and Crafts Movement founder William Morris, and today it is the centrepiece of an extensive country park. It is said that on a clear day you can see 14 counties from the tower, and certainly the view over the surrounding countryside is superb.
Morris was just one of numerous artists drawn to Broadway in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The town became a popular centre for the fine arts, with author JM Barrie (Peter Pan), painter John Singer Sargent and composers Vaughan Williams and Edward Elgar drawn to the area.
Fish Hill, on which the Tower stands, is so steep that passengers on stagecoaches were often required to get out and help the horses push the coaches to the top.
Just outside Broadway on the minor road leading to Snowshill is St Eadburgha's church, dating to the 12th century and named one of the thousand best churches in England by historian Simon Jenkins. If you carry on up the road you come to the National Trust property of Snowshill Manor, a Tudor house famous for its eccentric collection of oddities gathered by a former owner.
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Address: Broadway, Cotswolds, Worcestershire, England
Attraction Type: Town
OS: SP099 375
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Broadway, St Eadburgha's Church - 0.8 miles (Historic Church)
Gordon Russell Museum - 1.1 miles (Museum)
Broadway Tower - 1.2 miles (Historic Building)
Buckland, St Michael - 1.5 miles (Historic Church)
Saintbury, St Nicholas Church - 1.6 miles (Historic Church)
Snowshill Manor - 2.3 miles (Historic House)
Snowshill, St Barnabas Church - 2.4 miles (Historic Church)
Chipping Campden Market Hall - 3.3 miles (Historic Building)
Nearest Accommodation to Broadway: