Secret Places in the CotswoldsPosted: 2010-07-21
The next in my look at 'Secret Places' in Britain takes in the Cotswolds region. This is where the Britain Express family make our home, and we've spent many happy hours exploring the region. There are so many interesting historic places to see that it's hard to limit myself to just five, so consider this a first instalment, with more to follow!
- Sezincote Manor - a touch of the Orient in the Gloucestershire countryside; Sezincote is a striking stately home, built like an Oriental palace, with statues of elephants guarding the garden path. Though the gardens are a delight, it is the house, a slice of Far-Eastern opulence, that is the real star. Sezincote was the inspiration for the Prince Regent's Brighton Pavillion.
- Lower Oddington - this little village just outside Stow-on-the-Wold ('where the wind blows cold') has two churches. One modern, regularly used, and one half-forgotten medieval gem, tucked away down a little lane. Within the old church is a wonderful series of medieval and Tudor wall paintings, covering almost the entire north wall from floor to ceiling. The largest painting is a 'Doom', representing the Day of Judgement, while one of the later painted figures may represent Cardinal Wolsey, who once held the living at Oddington.
- Northleach Church - a gem of a medieval church, one of the finest 'wool churches' in the Cotswolds. The church has been called "The Cathedral of the Cotswolds", and with good reason. The splendid church owes much to the generosity of local wool merchant John Fortey (d. 1458), whose memorial brass is in the north arcade. The church is entered through a fabulously decorated two-storey porch, built in 1420.
- Sherborne - this deliciously pretty Cotswold village is largely owned by the National Trust. On the outskirts are water meadows managed by the Trust using time-honoured traditional methods. Footpaths lead across the meadows. In the centre of Sherborne stands Sherborne House, a beautiful stately home, now converted into flats. Footpaths lead through the former grounds, and there are sculptures scattered along the path (watch for the metal bat sculptures overhead!). Across the A40 is Lodge Park, a rare surviving coursing lodge built so that guests at Sherborne House could watch deer coursing in comfort, and gamble on the outcome.
- Kiftsgate Court Gardens - located directly across the minor road from popular Hidcote Gardens, Kiftsgate is often bypassed by the hordes of tourists who flock to Hidcote each year. Yet this hillside garden set below a lovely manor house is every bit as interesting as its more famous neighbour (and a lot quieter!). It even has its very own rose variety, developed here.