Day 12 – Saturday, October 8, 2022
Here we are, our final day in The Cotswolds, and it’s beautifully blue.
More bell ringing this morning – this time for ages. Side note, the volunteer guide in the church this afternoon told me that they were ringing to celebrate 300 years since the original hanging of the bells. Apparently they were ringing 5088 changes, but then thought for a minute and said it might have been 5388 changes… either way that’s a lot of changes, but who, I wonder, was counting? Anyways, they did go on some.
In the square a market was setting up, it looked very much like a boot sale. I was tempted to stay for a look but figured that in a town with this many antique and charity shops, I doubted there’d be bargains to be had.
As our last proper touring day, we’d decided to take it easy and go over to Cirencester this morning, just 10 miles away.
Cirencester is the largest town in The Cotswolds and has enough history and Roman artifacts to keep anyone interested in that sort of thing happy. The first reference to the town was in 150AD and the last visit we made to it was on New Year’s Eve, 2019.
After parking behind the church, we walked through the old part of town, following the little laneways.
Finally we came out in the square in front of the church where a food market was on. We wandered through the stalls imagining what we would have bought if we were going to be in town for longer and with access to a kitchen larger than the one in our cottage. So much potential yumminess in one square.
If you’re ever here, the Church of St John The Baptist is well worth a visit. Known as The Cathedral of The Cotswolds it’s full of history and sweeping ceilings and even holds the Anne Boleyn Cup. A gilded silver goblet engraved with the Boleyn crest and topped with a crowned falcon it was given to Anne Boleyn by King Henry VIII as a symbol of his infatuation in 1535. Just a year later she was executed. It’s here that the story veers off. One version has it being given to the physician Dr Masters by Anne and then to the church. Another has it bequeathed to her daughter, who became Elizabeth I, and then given to Dr Masters. Anyways, the cup was part of a matching pair – the other which is in Windsor Castle.
Just after midday we made our way to Sapperton for lunch at The Bell (a favourite from our last two trips) – only to be told that they might have room for us after 4pm.
‘Isn’t that after the kitchen closes?’ I ask, receiving just a shrug in reply. While I remember how much we enjoyed the pub, I don’t recall the rudeness. A simple, I’m really sorry, but that won’t be possible today with, perhaps, a smile, surely isn’t too much to ask for? Even if you are one of the most popular pubs in The Cotswolds and even if I know very well I should have booked.
No matter, back in the car we made our way to another favourite, The Crown Inn at Frampton Mansell. (As a side note, anyone who has read either Wish You Were Here or Escape To Curlew Cottage would recognise these village names…)
It’s just over the hill from Chalford and Cockshutt Cottage on Westley Farm which had been, back in 2015, the inspiration for Curlew Cottage and Wish You Were Here. The country around here really is beautiful.
Anyways, not only do they have room for us, but they also have smiles. I choose the venison sausage with lentils (which I manage less than half of) and Grant has a BLT and chips – and some of the remainder of my lunch.
Back in Tetbury I leave Grant to have a snooze and go for a wander around town. My first stop is the Chipping Steps in Tetbury which used to be the entry to Tetbury.
Other than the Market Hall, the most photographed part of Tetbury is the Chipping Steps which date back to medieval times. “Chipping” means market and it’s where “mop fairs” were held – where farm hands and domestic staff offered themselves for employment.
The houses beside the steep cobbled steps are mostly weaver’s cottages dating back to the 1600s. If you want to know more about Tetbury, the Tetbury Feeoffees (no, that isn’t a typo), and why the symbol of a dolphin is so prevalent here, check out this post.
Predictably, I end up at the bookshop (which is exactly how all bookshops should be) and (not so predictably) get into a conversation with the 18-year-old behind the counter about Persuasion and Anne Elliott and the Netflix movie – which we both decided Jane would probably have enjoyed. I might also have bought Matt Haig’s book, How To Stop Time.
I return to our cottage via a look around the church.
We’re going a tad posh tonight with dinner at The Close. It’s money well spent though as it’s also possibly the best meal we’ve had in England – on any trip. Big call. (The pic of The Close was taken much earlier in the day…)
To start Grant had torched Cornish mackerel and I had rabbit and pistachio terrine. For mains, he had roast lemon sole with brown shrimp butter sauce and I had guinea fowl.
Tomorrow we head south to, well, Southampton.
Another fabulous day! Octavia’s bookstore looked very inviting too. Both of those churches are just beautiful.
One day I’ll follow in your footsteps – I must save your itineraries because you always find the best places and in particular, you know a good pub when you visit one! Side note, we have some cracking establishments here in Stamford.
I’ll have to sample one of them some time…
Oh Jo, another beautiful post of such stunning area in the UK. I’m so enjoying my virtual travels with you. When I read about the ‘boot sale’ I immediately wondered if Philly Barker might be there looking for a bargain. P.S. I’m not sure I could count the changes of the bells these days I can’t even remember what number reps I’m up to when working out LOL 🙂 x
How could Grant possibly snooze mid-afternoon when there was all the exploring to do?! 😀 I love the sounds of your bookshop conversation with the 18-year old man behind the counter. I absolutely adore conversations like that!
Oh, and those blue skies are truly incredible.
We got so lucky with the weather.
That is so gorgeous. I really need to get back to England and explore more. I love you like about the bookshop. It is indeed how all bookshops should be!! #WWandP
The last couple of trips we’ve based ourselves in one area for up to a week at a time – it really lets us explore more and means we’re not rushing through or having to pack up every day.
I’m not a huge fan of churches but love the rest of the architecture and the streets. Everything I assume I’d love if I was to visit. I wonder if you lived there if it’d feel like ‘meh’ as if that’s the norm. (As if living in regional Qld – in Gympie or Maryborough or something!)
I think it would be meh if you lived there…
How fabulous Jo, I’ve not been there but feel like I have after reading your post and seeing your photos 🙂
Hi Jo, I can confirm it does feel more ‘meh’ when you live there mainly because of the weather – winter argh 😣. However I do miss the sound of church bells ringing across the countryside. It’s weird the things that enter our subconscious minds. Again beautiful photos with lots of historical knowledge and foodie tips. Thanks for sharing x
I love the sound of the bell ringing – although would probably get a tad meh about that too if I was woken too early with it.
Wow, wow and more…I have loved this series. The closest for me as a travel guide is your experiences and photos moving forward. The steps…gosh, going back up…I loved too, the green I saw everywhere. Thank you for joining in this week’s link up for Wednesday’s Words and Pics. Next week I will be in ‘moving house’ mode, so no link up. All being well, the link up will be back on 8 March. Denyse.
Happy to be your virtual travel guide.
The pictures look great! Almost felt like I was going through the town myself! Definitely adding this to my travel list now