Let’s do a little armchair travelling to the beautiful Cotswold villages of Burford and Chipping Campden.
Like many people, we have postponed our overseas trips for now; I’ll use the found time to catch up on photos of past trips and let the world gradually come to grips with Covid-19.
We drove through Burford in 2011 on our first foray to the Cotswolds and were utterly charmed by the steeply pitched street, with its zanily crooked timbered shops and elegant stone row houses.
This seems like home!
Burford is a small medieval town on the River Windrush, in the Cotswold hills, in the West Oxfordshire district of Oxfordshire, England.
Often referred to as the ‘gateway’ to the Cotswolds, Burford is about 18 miles west of the beautiful University town of Oxford.
The name Burford is derived from the Old English words burh meaning fortified town or hilltown and ford, the crossing of a river. Indeed, the steeply pitched high street of Burford levels out at the river Windrush below, where lovely gardens line the banks.
Contented Mallard ducks float along the calm surface.
And attend to their ablutions while perched on the mossy stone walls lining the river bank.
Small footbridges span the river, providing bucolic access to the nearby churchyard of St. John the Baptist Church.
The grounds surrounding the church are quite extensive.
Lichen and moss-covered tombs nestle on the river side of the church.
The ones on the other side have clearly enjoyed a lot more sunshine; the moss is only at the base on these.
The spring flowers were just spectacular when we saw Burford again last year.
The deep wine reds and sparkling white were an interesting and unusual combination; spring flowers so often feature yellows and blues.
The tombstones are very close to the pathway leading to the main doors of the church.
Of course, I had to go in. But I will not go into exhaustive detail – promise! Just a couple of snaps. Lovely stained glass in the nave.
I always get a kick out of the kneelers, each with a unique needlepoint pattern created by members of the congregation. The Dundee cushion spoke to me immediately, of course, though the lovely pansies were a close runner-up.
Ok – back outside now. No more interior church pictures.
The houses at the lower end of the town enjoy a flat terrain, bordered with a flagged stone sidewalk.
While the residents of the houses at the upper end of town get their daily exercise trotting up and down the steep hill.
We stayed in a small self-catering cottage in Burford last year, dubbed “Little Scarlet”. Its a Unique Home Stays offering – the same people who brought us Valentine’s Lost Orangery. While a bit odd in some ways (you’ll see why in a minute), Little Scarlet’s location was perfect – in the lower part of town, merely steps from shops and pubs.
Here are some more pictures from their website. This is the main sitting room. It was really comfortable, and we loved using the little wooden closed stove. It heated up the room in no time. As an aside, it was here we discovered wax fire starters, a compact and natural substitute for kindling. Brilliant.
A small outdoor patio was tucked in at the back of the house. It was a bit chilly while we were there, so we didn’t use it, but it would be lovely in warmer weather.
Now for the weird bit. Yes indeed. The owner elected to transform the middle floor into a huge bathroom with two slipper tubs, and have only one bedroom, located on the top floor. Not the most practical decision, but it suited her. I found the boudoir decor to be a bit oppressive (how many nude photos does one house need?) but was very happy with the location, the downstairs decor and the overall comfort of the house.
The kitchen was modern and well-appointed. All in, I’d highly recommend the house for two people.
Let’s hop in the car now and drive over to nearby Chipping Campden, famous for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century.
“Chipping” is from Old English cēping, “a market, a market-place”. Several other English towns have the same sobriquet, namely Chipping Norton and Chipping Sodbury – very PJ Wodehouse – it always makes me giggle (I know, very immature).
At the centre of town stands the Market Hall with its splendid arches. It was built in 1627 and still in use. There was a plan to sell the hall in the 1940s but locals raised funds to purchase the property and donated it to the National Trust.
The building provides shelter for merchants and farmers selling their wares. The side walls are open to allow light (and customers) to enter. The floors are delightfully dippy and uneven, and the interior is surprisingly cool, even in high summer.
Chipping Campden was a rich wool trading centre in the Middle Ages and today it is a popular tourist destination bursting with old inns, hotels, specialty shops, and restaurants.
But the real charm is the abundance of historically Listed buildings – from diminutive to quite massive. For a relatively small town, Chipping Campden has an astonishing 256 such properties. I could have snapped photos all day.
Most are built from the mellow yellow, locally quarried “oolitic limestone” known as Cotswold stone.
Typical of Britain, the gardens are immaculate.
I loved the name on this one: “Hoo Cottage”.
Glenn was patience itself, and obligingly pulled over as I kept yelling “stop the car!” before leaping out to catch a particularly beguiling aspect.
Really, couldn’t you live in any one of them?
Oh, happy sigh…
I will end where we began, with my favourite of the houses. Which one did you like best?
The next few months are going to be trying for everyone, and I’m hopeful that we will be able to find a middle ground between the current extremes of panic-buying (what’s with the loo paper hoarding? hand-sanitizer I sort of get, but bales of bog-roll? really???) and the other extreme of inappropriate insouciance. It seems that things will likely get a whole lot worse before they get better, so we will all need to be patient and calm.
Stay safe, everyone,
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.