A Guide to Visiting the Cotswold Town of Stow-on-the-Wold

Exploring the Historic Market Square

The Heart of Stow-on-the-Wold

At the centre of Stow-on-the-Wold lies the iconic Market Square, a testament to the town's rich history as a prominent wool trading hub. This picturesque square, surrounded by charming honey-coloured stone buildings, has been the heart of the community for centuries. As you step into the square, you'll be transported back in time, imagining the bustling atmosphere of bygone eras when wool merchants and traders gathered here to conduct their business. The Market Square continues to be a focal point for locals and visitors alike, hosting regular markets and fairs that showcase the best of the Cotswolds' crafts, produce, and delicacies. Make sure to check the town's event calendar to experience one of these lively gatherings during your visit and immerse yourself in the authentic charm of Stow-on-the-Wold.

Architectural Gems and Historical Landmarks

The Market Square is lined with architectural gems that tell the story of Stow-on-the-Wold's fascinating past. Take a moment to admire the town hall, a striking building that has served as the centre of local governance for generations. Its elegant façade and intricate detailing are a testament to the town's prosperity during the wool trading era. Another must-see landmark is the ancient market cross, which stands proudly in the square, reminding visitors of the town's long-standing tradition of commerce and community. As you explore further, you'll discover the iconic St. Edward's Church, a magnificent Gothic structure known for its enchanting tree-framed doorway. This doorway, flanked by two ancient yew trees, has become a symbol of Stow-on-the-Wold and a popular spot for photographers seeking to capture the essence of the Cotswolds. 

A church door in Stow-on-the-Wold

The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold

Indulging in Culinary Delights

Traditional Pubs and Inns

Stow-on-the-Wold boasts an impressive selection of traditional pubs and inns that offer a warm welcome, cosy atmosphere, and delicious pub fare. One notable gem is The Porch House, a Grade II listed building that lays claim to being England's oldest inn. Dating back to the 10th century, The Porch House provides a unique dining experience, serving hearty dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients in a historical setting that exudes character and charm. Another must-visit is The Bell, a quintessential Cotswold pub known for its friendly atmosphere, well-kept ales, and tasty pub classics. Settle in by the fireplace, strike up a conversation with the friendly locals, and savour the authentic taste of British pub culture. For a more upscale experience, head to The Kings Arms, an elegant inn that combines traditional Cotswold charm with modern amenities and a refined menu showcasing the best of British cuisine.

Contemporary Dining Experiences

In addition to its traditional pubs and inns, Stow-on-the-Wold offers a range of contemporary dining options that cater to diverse tastes and occasions. The Old Butchers is a must-visit for food enthusiasts seeking a modern twist on classic British dishes. This stylish restaurant, housed in a former butcher's shop, has garnered acclaim for its innovative menu and commitment to showcasing the finest local produce. The talented chefs at The Old Butchers create visually stunning plates that burst with flavour, making it a popular choice for special occasions and romantic dinners. Another standout eatery is The Sheep, a chic restaurant and bar that offers a relaxed yet sophisticated dining experience. With its sleek interiors, creative cocktails, and menu featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients, The Sheep has quickly become a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Whether you're in the mood for a casual lunch, an indulgent afternoon tea, or a memorable evening meal, Stow-on-the-Wold's diverse culinary scene has something to satisfy every palate.

A quaint street filled with shops in Stow-on-the-Wold

Discovering Unique Shopping Experiences

Eclectic Boutiques and Independent Shops

Stow-on-the-Wold is a true paradise for shoppers seeking one-of-a-kind finds and unique retail experiences. The town's charming streets are lined with an array of independent boutiques, each offering a carefully curated selection of gifts, clothing, accessories, and homewares. As you stroll through the town centre, you'll discover hidden gems like Borzoi Bookshop, a treasure trove for book lovers featuring a wide range of titles, from bestsellers to rare editions. For fashion enthusiasts, Sassy & Boo is a must-visit, offering a stylish collection of women's clothing and accessories from beloved British brands and up-and-coming designers. Pop into Igloo, a delightful shop dedicated to children's clothing and toys, where you'll find adorable outfits and engaging playthings that will bring a smile to any child's face. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the town's many other independent shops, such as Dove Gallery, which showcases the work of local artists and craftspeople, and The Cotswold Cheese Company, offering a tantalising selection of artisanal cheeses and gourmet food items.

Antiques and Collectibles

Stow-on-the-Wold is renowned for its excellent selection of antique shops and centres, making it a prime destination for collectors and history buffs. The town's love affair with antiques dates back to the early 20th century when the first antique shops opened their doors to cater to the growing interest in bygone treasures. Today, visitors can spend hours browsing the numerous antique emporiums, each brimming with unique finds from various eras and styles. Huntington Antiques is a must-visit for those seeking high-quality furniture, art, and decorative objects from the 18th to the early 20th century. With its knowledgeable staff and impeccable reputation, Huntington Antiques has become a favourite among serious collectors and design enthusiasts. Another notable spot is Stow Antiques, housed in a charming Georgian building on the High Street. This extensive antique centre features over 40 dealers offering an eclectic mix of furniture, pottery, glassware, jewellery, and vintage curiosities. Whether you're searching for a specific item to complete your collection or simply enjoy the thrill of the hunt, Stow-on-the-Wold's antique shops are sure to captivate and inspire.

Immersing in Nature's Beauty

Scenic Walks and Hiking Trails

The breathtaking countryside surrounding Stow-on-the-Wold offers endless opportunities for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Cotswolds. The town's location at the convergence of several long-distance walking trails, such as the Cotswold Way and the Heart of England Way, makes it an ideal starting point for scenic walks and hikes. The Cotswold Way, a 102-mile route that stretches from Chipping Campden to Bath, passes directly through Stow-on-the-Wold, offering walkers a chance to experience the town's charm before venturing into the picturesque countryside. One particularly popular route is the circular walk from Stow-on-the-Wold to the nearby village of Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the "Venice of the Cotswolds" for its charming bridges and tranquil waterways. This moderate 8-mile walk takes hikers through rolling hills, lush meadows, and ancient woodlands, providing stunning views of the quintessential Cotswold landscape. Along the way, walkers can spot an array of wildlife, from grazing sheep to soaring birds of prey, and revel in the tranquillity of the countryside.

Gardens and Arboretums

For those who prefer a more leisurely nature experience, Stow-on-the-Wold and its surroundings offer a selection of enchanting gardens and arboretums that showcase the beauty and diversity of the region's flora. Just a short drive from the town, Bourton House Garden is a hidden gem that features a series of elegantly designed garden rooms, each with its own unique character and planting scheme. From the vibrant border gardens to the tranquil water features and the charming Knot Garden, Bourton House Garden provides a sensory delight for horticulture enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. Another must-visit is Batsford Arboretum, a 56-acre paradise of trees and shrubs from around the world. This Victorian-era arboretum is home to one of the country's largest private collections of trees, including rare and champion specimens. Visitors can wander through the various themed areas, such as the Japanese Maple Glade and the Hermit's Cave, marvelling at the stunning displays of colour throughout the seasons. The arboretum also features a charming Garden Terrace Café, where visitors can enjoy a light meal or a delightful afternoon tea while taking in the beautiful surroundings.

The church in Stow-on-the-Wold

Unravelling the Town's Fascinating History

The Stow-on-the-Wold and District Civic Society Museum

To delve into the rich history of Stow-on-the-Wold, a visit to the Stow-on-the-Wold and District Civic Society Museum is an absolute must. Housed in a former school building, this charming museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the town's past, from its early days as a thriving wool trading centre to its modern incarnation as a beloved Cotswold destination. The museum's carefully curated exhibits showcase an array of artifacts and memorabilia that tell the story of Stow-on-the-Wold's development and the lives of its residents throughout the centuries. Visitors can explore displays dedicated to local crafts and industries, including the town's famous wool trade, as well as exhibits highlighting the area's agricultural heritage and the daily lives of its people. One of the museum's most engaging features is its collection of old photographs and postcards, which offer a captivating visual record of Stow-on-the-Wold's streetscapes, buildings, and inhabitants in days gone by. The knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers who run the museum are always on hand to share their insights and anecdotes, bringing the town's history to life in a truly engaging way.

The English Civil War and the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold played a significant role in one of the most tumultuous periods of English history – the English Civil War. In 1646, the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold marked the last major engagement of the conflict, with Royalist forces under the command of Sir Jacob Astley facing off against the Parliamentary troops led by Sir William Brereton. The fierce battle, which took place on the outskirts of the town, resulted in a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians and effectively ended the Royalist resistance in the region. Today, visitors to Stow-on-the-Wold can explore the battlefield site and immerse themselves in the dramatic events of this pivotal moment in English history. The Stow-on-the-Wold and District Civic Society Museum offers a wealth of information and artifacts related to the battle, including weapons, uniforms, and eyewitness accounts that bring the conflict to life. History buffs can also embark on a guided tour of the battlefield, led by knowledgeable local historians who provide a detailed and engaging account of the battle and its aftermath. These tours offer a unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the soldiers who fought and died on this historic site, gaining a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices and struggles of those who shaped England's destiny.

Indulging in Luxurious Accommodations

The Old Stocks Inn

For those seeking the ultimate in luxury and comfort during their stay in Stow-on-the-Wold, The Old Stocks Inn is an unparalleled choice. This stunning boutique hotel, situated in the heart of the town, effortlessly combines modern elegance with the timeless charm of a 17th-century Cotswold stone building. The Old Stocks Inn offers an array of beautifully appointed rooms and suites, each individually designed to provide guests with an unforgettable experience. From the sumptuous bedding and plush furnishings to the state-of-the-art amenities and thoughtful touches, every detail has been carefully considered to ensure the utmost comfort and convenience. Guests can indulge in the hotel's award-winning restaurant, which showcases the finest local and seasonal ingredients in its innovative and delectable dishes. The restaurant's talented chefs take great pride in crafting culinary masterpieces that celebrate the flavours and traditions of the Cotswolds while adding a contemporary twist. After a memorable meal, guests can unwind in the hotel's stylish bar, which offers an extensive selection of fine wines, craft beers, and artisanal cocktails in a sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere. With its unrivalled blend of luxury, history, and culinary excellence, The Old Stocks Inn is the perfect base for discerning travellers looking to immerse themselves in the charm and beauty of Stow-on-the-Wold.

The Sheep on Sheep Street

Another outstanding option for those seeking a truly indulgent stay in Stow-on-the-Wold is The Sheep on Sheep Street. This luxurious boutique hotel, housed in a beautifully restored Georgian townhouse, offers a unique and unforgettable experience that combines the best of traditional Cotswold charm with contemporary style and comfort. The hotel's individually designed rooms and suites are a study in understated elegance, featuring plush bedding, fine linens, and bespoke furnishings that create an atmosphere of refined relaxation. Guests can enjoy a range of modern amenities, including complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and luxurious en-suite bathrooms with premium toiletries. One of the highlights of a stay at The Sheep on Sheep Street is the opportunity to dine at the hotel's exceptional restaurant. The talented culinary team, led by a renowned local chef, creates stunning dishes that showcase the best of seasonal Cotswold produce, from succulent meats and fresh seafood to garden-fresh vegetables and artisanal cheeses. The restaurant's elegant dining room, with its exposed stone walls and intimate lighting, provides the perfect setting for a romantic dinner or a celebratory meal with friends and family. After a delightful meal, guests can retire to the hotel's inviting bar, which offers a carefully curated selection of local ales, fine wines, and creative cocktails in a cosy and convivial atmosphere.

The Kings Arms in Stow-on-the-Wold

Cottages in Stow-on-the-Wold

Exploring the Surrounding Villages and Attractions

Picturesque Cotswold Villages

Stow-on-the-Wold's central location in the heart of the Cotswolds makes it the perfect base for exploring the region's many picturesque villages. Just a short drive from the town, visitors can discover the charm and beauty of Bourton-on-the-Water, often referred to as the "Venice of the Cotswolds." This enchanting village is renowned for its serene waterways, quaint stone bridges, and delightful array of shops, cafes, and attractions. Take a stroll along the River Windrush, feed the ducks, and visit the Cotswold Motoring Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of vintage cars and memorabilia. Another must-visit destination is the village of Chipping Campden, famous for its elegant High Street lined with honey-coloured stone buildings and its rich history as a centre of the Arts and Crafts movement. Explore the Court Barn Museum, which celebrates the town's artistic heritage, or embark on a scenic walk along the Cotswold Way to the iconic Dover's Hill, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Other nearby villages worth visiting include the charming Moreton-in-Marsh, with its vibrant weekly market and excellent antique shops, and the picturesque Broadway, known for its beautiful Tudor and Stuart architecture and the stunning Broadway Tower, a Georgian folly with panoramic views of up to 16 counties.

Gardens, Parks, and Wildlife Attractions

For those seeking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold is surrounded by a wealth of stunning gardens, parks, and wildlife attractions. One of the most popular destinations is the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, a sprawling 160-acre park that is home to an incredible array of exotic and endangered animals, from majestic lions and graceful giraffes to playful meerkats and cheeky lemurs. The park also features beautifully landscaped gardens, a charming narrow-gauge railway, and a variety of interactive exhibits and keeper talks that offer visitors a fascinating insight into the world of conservation and animal care. Another must-visit attraction for nature lovers is the enchanting Hidcote Manor Garden, a short drive from Stow-on-the-Wold. This world-renowned Arts and Crafts garden, created by the talented American horticulturist Lawrence Johnston, is a masterpiece of design, featuring a series of intimate outdoor "rooms" separated by hedges and filled with an incredible variety of plants, flowers, and sculptures. Visitors can spend hours exploring the garden's many delights, from the vibrant Red Borders and the tranquil White Garden to the charming Bathing Pool and the fragrant Fuchsia Garden. For a taste of the Cotswolds' wilder side, head to the Sherborne Park Estate, a 4,000-acre expanse of stunning parkland, ancient woodland, and wildflower meadows that is home to an abundance of native wildlife, including rare birds, butterflies, and mammals. The estate offers a range of scenic walking trails and wildlife-watching opportunities, as well as the chance to explore the beautiful Sherborne Lodge Gardens, a hidden gem featuring a series of themed garden rooms and a magnificent 18th-century orangery.

A car outside a cottage in Stow-on-the-Wold

Shops in Stow-on-the-Wold

Planning Your Visit and Making Lasting Memories

When to Visit and What to Pack

When planning your visit to Stow-on-the-Wold, it's essential to consider the best time of year to explore this charming Cotswold town and its surrounding attractions. While the town is delightful in any season, many visitors prefer to come in the spring or summer months, when the weather is generally mild and pleasant, and the gardens and countryside are at their most vibrant. Spring brings a burst of colour to the Cotswolds, with daffodils, bluebells, and other wildflowers carpeting the meadows and woodlands, while summer offers the perfect opportunity for outdoor activities, picnics, and lazy afternoons in pub gardens. However, the quieter autumn and winter months can also be a wonderful time to visit, with crisp, clear days, cosy evenings by the fire, and a host of seasonal events and festivities to enjoy. When packing for your trip, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, as you'll want to explore the town's charming streets and the beautiful surrounding countryside. Layered clothing is also a must, as the weather in Stow-on-the-Wold can be changeable, particularly in the spring and autumn months. Don't forget to pack a camera to capture the town's picturesque architecture, stunning views, and memorable moments, as well as a good book or two to enjoy during quiet moments in one of the town's many inviting cafes or cosy pubs.

Creating Unforgettable Experiences

A visit to Stow-on-the-Wold is an opportunity to create lasting memories and unforgettable experiences in one of England's most beautiful and historic regions. To make the most of your time in the town and the surrounding area, be sure to plan ahead and explore the many activities and attractions on offer. History buffs will delight in the chance to explore the town's fascinating past, from the ancient Roman Fosse Way that runs through the town to the medieval Market Square and the iconic St. Edward's Church. Foodies will be in heaven with the town's excellent selection of restaurants, cafes, and pubs, offering everything from traditional Cotswold fare to contemporary cuisine made with the finest local ingredients. Shoppers will love browsing the town's many independent boutiques, antique shops, and galleries, while nature lovers will find endless opportunities for scenic walks, wildlife spotting, and garden visits in the surrounding countryside.


To truly immerse yourself in the Cotswold way of life, why not book a stay in one of Stow-on-the-Wold's charming hotels, inns, or holiday cottages, where you can wake up to the sound of birdsong and the gentle bustle of village life? Whether you're sipping a pint of local ale in a cosy pub, exploring the town's history and architecture, or simply soaking up the beauty of the Cotswold landscape, Stow-on-the-Wold is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

A mother and daughter walking by a stone wall in Stow-on-the-Wold

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