With miles of cobbled streets lined with historic houses, you'll find celebrated farm shops, buzzing private members’ clubs and quintessential country style in abundance in the Cotswolds — so it's easy to see why so many people are making the move to call the Cotswolds home.
Ah, the Cotswolds. England’s most famed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and arguably most-beloved countryside, spanning almost 800 square miles across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. With country houses galore, 3,000 miles of walking trails to explore and award-winning pubs on almost every corner, this is the quintessential English countryside mecca.
It’s no secret that we here at Country Life are particularly fond of the Cotswolds. Its classic English charm, bucolic villages, idyllic scenery and renowned establishments make it an area that people fall in love with time and time again. Associate Director of Savills Country House Department, Plum Fenton, notes that the area appeals to — and can accommodate — a huge number of people, depending on your interests and passions.
Plum moved back to the Cotswolds after a ten-year spell in London and a stint in the Far East, after she found the area she had grown up in ‘hard to replace.’ ‘The Cotswolds is brilliant as you can hide away, go on long country walks and get a sense of escapism, while also going to the same quality of restaurants you’d expect to find in major cities — like the Pelican in Charlbury’ (which enjoyed a successful six-week pop-up in the Bull Inn in Chipping Norton).
For those looking for a slower pace of life, there are plenty of rural corners in the UK to enjoy, but for the majority, the proximity of the Cotswolds to London and its flourishing towns and villages make it the perfect in-between destination. ‘It’s a great balance’, says Plum, ‘I didn’t want to lose the buzz of London, but prefer living in the countryside to an urban area.’
Ed Sugden, Director of Savills Country House Department notes that the Cotswolds has ‘an international reputation. It’s stunningly beautiful, you have all the honey-coloured stone and it’s got some stunning valleys, the Evenlode, the Windrush, the Colne and so on. The undulating hills are quintessentially English, and because of its history and association with the wool trade, it’s full of beautiful historic buildings and churches, within every village.’
‘It really depends on what you like. There are lots of elements of the Cotswolds that are very different, and where you choose to live ultimately comes down to your lifestyle,’ explains Plum.
A place packed full of that Cotswold history would be The Old Priory, in North Woodchester. With parts of the property dating back to the 16th century and rated Grade I listed, this five bedroom Cotswold manor house is located on the site of one of the largest Roman Villas in England. It features a delightful outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and an astonishing 85 acres of land nestled between the thriving market towns of Stroud and Nailsworth.
For those seeking a more traditional home, look no further than Church Farmhouse. From the outside, the property flaunts a handsome Cotswold-stone exterior, whilst internally, the home is formed of exquisitely presented accommodation that tastefully draws on the original period features, paired with timeless, modern touches.
For something more substantial—Edgeworth Manor. This grand, nine-bedroom Cotswolds Manor House is set in 56 acres of land in the Gloucestershire countryside. Ed Sugden states that it’s ‘composed, confident with a great sense of occasion, evocative of times gone by.’
It’s not just property that gets pulses racing though. Lined along many of the medieval, honey-coloured cobbled streets are a range of renowned independent shops and boutiques that are rightful stalwarts in the makeup of the towns and villages here. ‘You’ve got Michelin restaurants, beautiful cafes, wonderful events such as opera, all the fetes and shows, and it’s all really high calibre’, explains Ed Sugden.
There are also the bigger-name establishments — Daylesford Organic, Soho Farmhouse and Diddly Squat Farm — that have helped catapult the Cotswolds into the limelight and forged the way for other emerging local businesses. With the roaring success of Soho Farmhouse drawing in a younger crowd from London, Estelle Manor – a new private members’ club opening this May — is sure to attract visitors (particularly the Euro business crowd) into its Grade II listed Landmark House walls, offering flexible workspace, the choice of four restaurants and 108 luxurious hotel rooms to stay in.
Those interested in living close by to some of the aforementioned establishments might be tempted by Larch Hill. It’s a substantial country house with plenty of traditional charm and exquisite countryside views and it’s situated in the village of Longborough, equidistant between the market towns of Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold.
And offering an interesting contrast from the more traditional Cotswold stone properties is Far End: an architecturally striking, oak-clad modern ‘marvel’ near the village of Kingham that comes with up to 83 acres of land available for sale. Just 12 miles from Soho Farmhouse, Far End ‘showcases exquisite design and impeccable finishes’ as well as a delightful guest cottage, swimming pond and wood-fired sauna within its grounds.
With its winning combination of location; scenery; fantastic local produce as well as excellent schools in both the public and private sector; not to mention the hundreds of pubs and restaurants on offer; sporting and cultural events; the Cotswolds is a treasure chest of delights, waiting to be explored.
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