A Weekend in the Cotswolds – part 1

My second weekend away was to Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds. As my niece and family live very close to the route, I arranged to stop there for lunch on the Friday – it was a pity I was very late because of queuing for an hour to get through Marlborough, as there were roadworks. I had warned them so they had started without me. My great-nephew is now taller than me…. Their new kitten is very small and totally black and their year-old cat is much bigger and very hairy! Three of us played “Exploding Kittens” after lunch – I even won the first game when I hadn’t a clue what I was doing! But was it tactful with the kitten in the next room??!!

I managed to miss the first turning for Bourton off the A429 but took the second, so got to the hotel without too many problems. My room was one of the better ones, in the main house and with a view of the garden. On the first evening, as well as dinner I looked at the “Discovery Point” and chose three possible walks.

On the Saturday I set off to do the “Bourton Circular” and was quite pleased that I managed it and only went wrong twice and realised before I got very far so easily turned back! The walk was out of the village and up a hill so that there was a view of Bourton.

View of Bourton
Waymarks for the Monarchs way

The first parts were all across or at the edges of fields or along roads. For a short distance – about 20 yards, maybe – I joined “The Monarchs Way” which I gather is a long distance trail covering the route Charles II took escaping the Roundheads and the country. To make the best of my short time on it I sat down and had some elevenses!

The best part of the walk was towards the end and was through woodland and beside a stream.

Best part of the walk

The walk took much less time than i expected so I got back to the hotel for lunchtime. I was quite glad as although it had been a bit damp and drizzly in the morning soon after lunch it started to rain quite hard. I stayed where I was for a while, but when I got bored I went out anyway to buy some postcards and while I was out went to look at the church. Parts of it are very old – the chancel was built in 1328 – but there were “restorations” in 1784 and 1874 and additions at other times. There has been another re-ordering fairly recently, which was very impressive. The pews are movable; chairs in the north aisle to give a flexible space for other activities; there is a light Cotswold stone floor and a gallery, with a beautiful curved staircase up to it. Under the gallery was a meeting room and a kitchen area (which could be hidden behind doors). I thought it was lovely.

When I came out I found it had stopped raining and the sun was out so I could do the “Bourton Town Trail”. This started at the hotel – Harrington House, which was built in the 1700s.

Harrington House
Maybe vicar of Lasailee with 2 small boys

The next point of interest was on Well House and is supposed to represent the vicar of Lasaille with 2 small boys. The story is that he had them castrated so they would sing higher notes in the choir. Hmm….

The next stop was on the fifth bridge over the River Windrush – Coronation Bridge. Some of the bridges will take traffic but several are footbridges. Even the ones that take cars have to be taken carefully as pedestrians happily wander across without looking.

Windrush from Coronation Bridge
Porch with sundials and insurance plaque on Dial House

After a walk down the main street there is a turn to look at Dial House, named because it has 2 sundials over the porch. Higher up there is an insurance plaque which indicated to the firemen that they would get payed if there was a fire (I think) – before our modern fire service, of course.

The next part of the route was through some alleyways towards the church. The latter part was part of the “coffin route” i.e. the route taken by coffins of the people who could not afford the horse-drawn hearses and were carried.

Part of the coffin route
Bail coffins

On reaching the churchyard we were directed to 3 “bail tombs” which have round tops which are supposed to represent bails of wool as these were the coffins of the rich wool masters. The Cotswolds was then very rich as wool was England’s major export.

Skull and crossbones over the church entrance

Having seen the inside of the church earlier I didn’t go in again but did look at the entrance porch which has a skull and crossbones above it. Why? Good question!

Also on the church tower there are two clocks, the lower, older one (1785) having only one hand. The story is that the clockmaker was payed 6d a month to maintain it but when a new vicar came he thought that was too much and said he would maintain it himself. When it broke and the vicar couldn’t mend it the clockmaker refused to come back. The newer clock was made in1911.

Two clocks on the tower

That was the end of the trail, so back to the hotel to prepare for dinner.

So? To be continued….

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