Moreton-in-Marsh Tourist Information & Travel Guide
Moreton-in-Marsh is one of the principal market towns in the northern Cotswolds situated on the Fosse Way and now served by the main line railway from London Paddington. It grew up in the thirteenth century as a market town with a wide main street, narrow burgage plots and back lanes. There still is a busy Tuesday market with about 200 stalls attracting many visitors. See image of Tolls charged in 1905.
Moreton has been a traveller's town for at least 1700 years and was used as a coaching station before the coming of the Oxford to Worcester railway in 1853. There are several pubs, inns, hotels, tea shops, restaurants and accommodation in the form of B&Bs and holiday cottages in the immediate vicinity. A popular caravan site exists just on the outskirts of the town.
The high street has many elegant eighteenth-century inns and houses including the Redesdale
Market Hall (seen in the above picture). This hall is at the centre of the town, a plaque on the building reads -
"The Redesdale Hall was erected in 1887 by Sir Algernon Bertram Freeman Mitford, G.C.V.O., K.C.B., 1st Baron Redesdale, Lord-of-the-Manor of Moreton-in-Marsh in pious Memory of his kinsman, Earl of Redesdale, 1805-1886".
The Hall was subsequently purchased by Sir Gilbert Alan Hamilton Wills, BART, O.B.E, The First Baron Dulverton who presented it in the year 1951 to The North Cotswold Rural District Council.
Lord Redesdale lived at nearby Batsford House and is also known for his famous daughters, the Mitford sisters.
The oldest building is likely
to be the sixteenth-century Curfew tower on the High Street. Its bell was rung nightly
until 1860 to remind people of the risk of fire at night. The Curfew Tower at the junction of High Street and Oxford Street dates from the 17th century, in daily use until 1860. It is said that it once guided home a Sir Robert Fry, lost in the fog, who gave money for its maintenance, in gratitude.
The Parish church of St. David
was originally a chapel of ease for Bourton-on-the-Hill and in 1858 was rebuilt in medieval
Moreton-in-Marsh was founded on the Roman Fosse Way, later the traditional London to Worcester coaching route via Broadway.
Two miles away in the hamlet of Dorn, many Roman remains have been found.
It was transferred to the ownership of Westminster Abbey just before the Norman Conquest, the estate sold only in 1856 after a thousand years of church ownership.
Close to the town is the Four Shires Stone marking the historic meeting point of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.
Moreton-in-Marsh was granted its market charter in 1227 and the well known Market is still held every Tuesday throughout the year.
Many of the old buildings along the High Street date from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The White Hart (Royal) Hotel was used by King Charles I as shelter during the English Civil War following the Battle of Marston Moor on July 2, 1644. A copy of the King’s unpaid bill is commemorated on a plaque within the entrance lobby.
The Batsford Arboretum was planted by Lord Redesdale, one of the largest private collection of rare trees in England.
The famous author J R R Tolkien is believed to have had connections with Moreton-in-Marsh - a pub in the town was presented with a special print by a branch of the J R R Tolkien Society.
After painstaking research the Society claim that The Bell Inn is the inspiration behind The Prancing Pony, Middle Earth's most famous pub in the book 'Lord of the Rings'.
The Society believes the similarities between the The Bell Inn in and The Prancing Pony in Tolkein's town of Bree is irrefutable evidence Tolkien used the pub as inspiration. These similarities include the three storeys of the pub building and its entrance via a courtyard, and the similarities of Moreton in Marsh to the town of Bree, where the hobbits find the Prancing Pony on a cold, rainy night.
The Four Shire Stone is a 9 foot high pillar situated approximately two miles east of Moreton-in-Marsh on the A44 at the turn off to Great Wolford village. The 16th century pillar, made from Cotswold stone, marks the centuries old meeting place of four county shires: Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire.
Due to local government reorganisation in the 1970s, the boundaries of these counties have now been moved and only three shires - no longer including Worcestershire, whose boundary is now further west - currently intercept here.
It is believed this stone was an inspiration for Tolkien's Three-Farthing Stone, a central point in the 'Shire' where three Farthings met.