Cotswold Ramblings© 2003
Wow! What a day! I've been everywhere! I started out going to the bluebell wood again to admire the myriad throngs of the light blue flowers carpeting the forest floor, then set off down the path that led into Coleshill house, a 1653 stately home that mysteriously burned down in 1952.
All that is left are the outbuidings and a pair of Statues. I then village hopped towards Oxford but for some reason decided to go to Winchcombe and Sudeley castle! Partly because I lived there 40 years ago. Winchcombe, not the castle!
I was passing through Prestbury on the outskirts of Cheltenham when I had a sudden urge to visit the church there.
My favourite chocolate box cottage 5 miles from me
I had suddenly remembered that when I was around 15 and Mum and dad went on holiday I used to stay with Don Brown (chief designer of Miles Aircraft and responsible for the development of the Miles M1, the first English jet plane but rejected by the government as being too far ahead of its time!) Don. a few of his friends and I used to go to this church once a week and sing compline. Not that I was religious, just went along out of curiosity!
But as I said I had an urge to revisit the place after a 40 year gap. Had a long chat with Mrs Brown, the flower watering lady whose husband played the organ there about the same time as I frequented it. Then got chatting to a guy on the way out who used to go to my old school, Cheltenham Grammar. As I told him I went to the old building that looked like a castle, he said he was born a year after it was pulled down! Made me feel oooooooooooold!
Then I set off for Winchcombe. On the way I stopped off at Cleeve hill, the highest point of the Cotswold hills and took shots from the top. From there I could see the Malverns where I had my antique shop. I then drove down to Winchcombe, past the spot where I was the sole witness to an accident in which a young motorcyclist tragically died. I was resting after the ride up on my racing bike at the age of 15. I had to attend the coroner's court about that. Past the spot where my sister Susan was in a car that left the road and overturned but not seriously injuring anyone. It was driven by a Mrs Partington, Mother of Lucy who was found tragically murdered along with many others in the Fred West house of horrors in Cromwell street in Gloucester. I can't remember if Lucy was in the car at the time but her sister Marian certainly was.
I arrived in Winchcombe at 4.00pm and realised I would be too late to get into the castle so decided to concentrate on the church, a well visited one with an amazing collection of 40 hideous gargoyles grinning and snarling inanely from the heavens! Half are modelled on local dignitaries and half on the devil! The guardian was an ex history teacher and an American! Had a great chat with him and he seemed fascinated with my exploits! I explained that I wasn't to blame, things just seemed to happen to me! Before I left I marvelled at the altar cloth sewn by One of Henry V111 wives, Catherine of Aragon in the early 1500's. Some of the pieces she used were made in 1380!
The pub where we used to buy chicken and mushroom pies after shopping on a Saturday!
Various views of Winchcombe
A typical Regency house in Cheltenham
I left the church feeling content. I'd lived there for 4 years but this was the first time I'd set foot inside it! I drove through Sudeley castle grounds but they were closing, so popped down to the house we lived in whilst in Winchcombe. Although it was only built 40 years ago (we were its first occupants) it has weathered very well, helped by the fact that it is built of cotswold stone.
Our old house
Then I set off for Upper and Lower Slaughter, two of the Cotswold's prettiest villages. Nothing but 400 year old cotswold stone houses and cottages set in an undulating tree - filled valley threaded by a beautiful stream. At one pont the stream crosses the road, giving me a chance to wash my wheels. I did the usual tour of the 900 year old church, then meandered over to Lower Slaughter, equally as beautiful and with a working water wheel mill.
As I left there I slowed for another Range Rover of identical colour to mine, the realised it was someone I knew! Maurice owns the best hotel in Highworth and used to be an antique dealer. I used to be a hotel manager and am now an antique dealer! AND we both own identical cars. So of course we get on very well. Now here we were nose to nose 30 miles from our homes! We exchanged a few words but had to move on as the traffic was building up behind us! Then on to Bourton on the Water without the tourists as it was by now 7.30pm, through Burford, stopped off for a setting sun low on a lake to take pictures and then home! I took 400 pictures that day!
1776 tomb. The date is included in the wrought ironwork.
Typical English village.
Wall painting in Kelmscott church. It is dated to around 1250 AD and was preserved by William Morris of arts and crafts fame. He lived in the village for 25 years.
The pharmacy in Lechlade.