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Top Things in the Cotswolds

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First Agricultural College in English Speaking world Britains Oldest Bowling Green
Most Interesting Cotswold Church Best Ancient Church Wall Paintings Best Memorial Brasses
Only complete Medieval Stained Glass Windows to survive in England Longest High Street
The only visible circular Nave in England Highest Cotswold Town Highest Point in Cotswolds
Highest Church in the Cotswolds Most Visited Church Biggest Cotswold Wool Church
Britain's Most Outstanding Romanesque Sculptures Most Visited Cotswold Village
In the Top Ten Visitor Tourist Attractions in the UK  
Britain's only World Heritage City The UK's City with the Most Protected Listed Buildings
Largest Norman Tower in the World Elkstone Village Church of St. John - Highest

Top Things

Here you will find details on the top and most outstanding things in the Cotswolds.

See also - Strange Things in the Cotswolds

First Agricultural College

The first Agricultural College in the English speaking world was founded by Henry 4th Earl Bathurst who became founding president of the Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester. The college was established to train young farmers in the best agricultural methods of the time and to lead the way with innovations.

Flat Green Bowls

Britain's oldest Bowling Green (over 400 years old), still in use to day, is located at the Falcon Inn in Painswick.

The flat green in Painswick, was built in the 16th century at the back of the then newly built Falcon Inn. It was originally used for gentlemen to wind down after a day of hunting in the nearby Cotswold countryside.

The lord of the manor who built it also had a cock fighting pit erected by its side.

The Falcon Club, which now uses the green, dates back to the early 20th century.

Most interesting Cotswold Church

Elkstone is a small tranquil village set high on the Cotswold escarpment, just off the A417 Gloucester to Cirencester road, six miles south of Cheltenham.

Here you will find the most beautiful historic Norman church of St. John, set in an attractive wooded churchyard. The church, the highest in the Cotswolds, has some excellent architectural features including Norman carvings of monsters and birds, and has a number table top tombs.

The village is an excellent start point for a variety of walks (both long and short), offering open upland and woodland scenery. In addition, the village also host a number of events each year, further details of which you will find on this site from time to time.

Church Wall Paintings

Excellent wall paintings can be found at Stowell, Baunton and Hailes but the best is probably at Lower Oddington where the whole of the north wall is covered with images.- including those depicting the Seven Acts of Mercy and scenes from the Day of Doom.

Church Stained Glass Windows

The 15th century church at Fairford has a set of 28 stained glass windows which is the only complete medieval glazing scheme to survive in England. The glass is of excellent quality and the work of the royal glazier, Barard Fowler, who also designed the windows for Kings College Cambridge.

Church Memorial Brasses

The best memorial brasses in the Cotswolds can be found in Northleach church where the local merchants are portrayed with their wealth at their feet in the form of Cotswold sheep and woolsacks.

The only visible Church Circular Nave in England

The 13th century church of St Michael at Garway in Herefordshire is now the only remains of the original preceptory and has the only visible circular Nave in England.

Cotswold Village with the longest High Street

The village of Broadway has the longest high street in the Cotswolds and one of the longest in Britain.

Highest Cotswold Town

The highest town in the Cotswolds is Stow-on-the-Wold at 800 feet above sea level.

Highest Point in the Cotswolds

Cleeve Hill is the highest point both in the Cotswolds and in the county of Gloucestershire, at 330 metres (1083 feet). It commands a clear view to the west, over Cheltenham and Cheltenham Racecourse (at Prestbury) and to the north over Winchcombe (and eventually over the River Severn and into Wales), being a conspicuous outcrop on the edge of the limestone escarpment, (sometimes called the 'Cotswold Edge'). It is crossed by the Cotswold Way National Trail footpath.

The summit, at 330 metres above sea level, is marked by a trig point on the relatively flat common to the south of the hill. Because of this, it does not offer particularly wide-ranging views. To the NNE, another summit at 315m high boasts a toposcope and a trig point, and offers far wider views.

To reach the more favourable view point, a minor road leads off the B4632 (a few miles out of Cheltenham towards Broadway) to the Golf course and there is free parking in a disused quarry. From this point, the viewpoint is roughly a half-mile climb. There are numerous other ways to reach the hill, and there is a well-maintained network of paths and tracks crossing it in many directions.

Highest Church in the Cotswolds

The church of St. John is the highest church in the Cotswolds and located at the village of Elkstone (see above - Most Interesting Cotswold Church).

Biggest of the Wool Churches

The largest and greatest of the Cotswold Gothic churches (sometimes known as 'Woolgothic') is the church of St. John the Baptist at Cirencester.

Largest Norman Tower in the World

Tewkesbury Abbey in the town of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire has the largest Norman Tower in the world. The abbey also boasts in having the largest exterior arch in Britain.

Most visited Church in the Cotswolds

The Church of the Holy Trinity at Stratford-upon-Avon is the most visited church in England due to it being William Shakespeare's burial place.

Most visited Cotswolds Village

The north Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water is the most visited by tourists in all of the Cotswolds.

Romanesque Sculptures

The Malmesbury Apostles sculpture at Malmesbury Abbey south entrance have been descibed as the most outstanding Romanesque sculptures in Britain. For more information - about Malmesbury.

Top Ten most visited Tourist Attractions in the UK

Warwick Castle is in the top ten of the most visited Tourist Attarctions in the United Kingdom.

Roman Baths at City of Bath Spa.

World Heritage City of Bath

The Georgian Bath Spa city is Britain's only designated World Heritage City.

Most Listed Government Protected Buildings in the UK

The City of Bath has 5000 listed protected buildings - more than central London.

The Highest Church in the Cotswolds

The church of St John (dating back to 1160) is located in the small Cotswold village of Elkstone and stands at 1000ft above sea level. The church is known for its unusual dovecote above the chancel and its quite exceptional Norman arches in the chancel and sanctuary bathed in golden light. It boasts a wonderful Norman tympanum above the south door. It is well worth taking a detour to explore the church and its striking collection of Norman arches and decorative features. You can also hear the bells and visit the bell tower. The working medieval bell frame has recently been identified as of national historical significance and the bells tell the story of bell foundries from 1657 to 1977.

The village is located between Cirencester and Cheltenham (postcode area is GL53)

Outstanding Things in the Cotswolds