The small village of Alderley lies within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the lovely countryside south east of Wotton-under-Edge. The Cotswold Way runs through the village. The elegant Church, dedicated to St. Kenelm was re-built in 1802 but the tower, dating from 1450 was retained from an earlier building.
There are a number of large as well as small houses, of which Alderley Grange, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and Rose Hill, now a preparatory school, are perhaps the most notable. A folly on Winner Hill, over-looking the village, has recently been restored. At the foot of the hill there is a thriving trout farm.
Hillesley is a charmingly situated small village, two miles south of Wotton-under-Edge. It has a Victorian Anglican School, a long-established Baptist Church, a flourishing primary school and a large public playing field. At the centre is a War Memorial green and some pleasant Cotswold stone buildings, also a comfortable 17th century public house, the Fleece Inn, providing meals and accommodation.
The area is one of outstanding natural beauty with varied scenery and tracts of ancient woodland still remaining. Farm lanes and footpaths lead off in every direction, including Hareley and Assley Commons which adjoin the larger commonlands of Hawkesbury parish. To the east, the quiet Kilcott valley leads up to the Midger Nature Reserve and the Cotswold Way Walk runs through this part of the parish.
Tresham is a smaller settlement on the higher ground south-east of Wotton. Old stone cottages and farms surround a little Anglican church, built in 1855, and travellers may rest at Well Hill, a recently restored amenity area with a wonderful view.
A pack of walks leaflets is available from the Parish Clerk and a Hillesley Website gives more information on www.hillesley.org.uk.
A mile to the south west of Wotton-under-Edge, straddling the Little Avon, lies the village of Kingswood. It has a long history, its main claim to fame being that it was once the site of an important Cistercian Abbey, as a 'daughter' of Tintern. Founded in 1139 by a member of the Berkeley family, the Abbey moved to several different locations in its early years before settling in Kingswood. Following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, much of the Abbey was demolished and the stone and timbers used for building elsewhere. Today, only the 16th Century gatehouse and some precinct walling remain of what must have been a once imposing Abbey. The former location of the rest of the Abbey, including the church, is unknown but remains an active cause for conjecture and investigation by the local community.
Like Wotton-under-Edge, North Nibley is sheltered by the south western escarpment of the Cotswolds. Set high above the village, the William Tyndale monument dominates every view. It commemorates the life of William Tyndale, the first translator of the Bible into English, allegedly born in the village at Hunts Court.
Another claim to fame is the Battle of Nibley Green, the last battle to be fought in England between private armies, those of Lord Lisle of Wotton and Lord Berkeley of Berkeley Castle. Many of the bodies of the fallen were buried in Nibley Churchyard. The church itself, St.Martin's, dates from an earlier 12th century chapel which in turn was probably built on a pagan site. Inside, the Green Man, a pagan figure, is carved on one of the columns. Next to the Church is Nibley House which dates from the 17th century and was the home of John Smyth, the wealthy steward for the Berkeley Estates. North Nibley is a 'real' village, having a C&E Primary School, Shop & Post Office, the Black Horse pub and a chapel as well as the church.
North Nibley is now well-known for holding an annual Scarecrow Festival in September. See images of Scarecrows.
The Cotswold Way runs along the escarpment, down from the Tyndale Monument and along the street on its way to Stinchcombe Hill. It is a popular walk with visitors in the area who will find a warm welcome if they care to visit the village.
Ozleworth lies two miles to the east of Wotton-under-Edge within the area of outstanding natural beauty. The valley, Ozleworth Bottom, rich in flora and fauna, is reputed to be one of the most beautiful valleys in the country. At the end of this remote valley is situated the Church, St.Nicholas of Myra, now in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust, though still used weekly for evening prayer and for some festival services. This small church is unique due to its irregular, centrally situated tower and circular churchyard. The church was known to be in existence in 1131, and the circular churchyard could denote an earlier Saxon site. Ozleworth also contains Newark Park (owned by the National Trust). Newark was originally a Tudor hunting lodge, built on the edge of a steep cliff by the Poyntz family who used stones from the ruins of nearby Kingswood Abbey.
In 1790 the noted architect James Wyatt converted the lodge into a four square castellated country house. Lovingly restored over recent years by the late Robert Parsons, it is of special architectural interest and commands wonderful views towards Hawkesbury and across to the Mendips.
The pretty hamlet of Wortley has several ancient and most attractive houses grouped around the winding and narrow road from Wotton to Alderley. The Chantry includes parts of a chantry chapel dating from 1311, which was used by monks from Kingswood Abbey. The remains of a substantial Roman Villa lie under the garden of one cottage. The villa has previously been the subject of several excavations by Keele University but is currently filled in and is not open to the public. Artefacts from the excavations are in the care of Stroud Museum.