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Dotted amongst the rolling hills and pretty honey-hued villages of the Cotswolds are a wealth of historic houses, gorgeous gardens and ancient monuments, many of which are cared for by the National Trust. Including fascinating Roman remains, an extraordinary country pub and breathtaking Arts and Crafts gardens, we have chosen a few of our favourite sites owned by the National Trust in the Cotswolds to look out for on your next break in this stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Visit the ‘Priest’s House’ where Wade and his wife lived, said to have been haunted by a monk from when the land had belonged to the church.
- Explore the gardens designed in the Arts and Crafts style with the help of M. H. Baillie Scott, featuring a maze of terraces, ponds, walled gardens, a model village and listed dovecote.
One of the best-known National Trust houses in the Cotswolds, Snowshill Manor is set within idyllic hillside gardens near the village of Broadway. A place of vibrancy, colour and art, this was the home of eccentric architect Charles Paget Wade who died in 1953. From the outside, you could be forgiven for thinking this buttery-stoned country manor is your average stately home, but step inside and you will be instantly wowed by an eclectic treasure trove of curiosities.
Wade spent his life gathering a spectacular collection of unusual items from across the globe, embodying his family motto ‘Let nothing perish’. Laid out theatrically, this 16th-century manor is packed to the rafters with a cornucopia of 22,000 or so unique objects - from tiny toys to splendid suits of Samurai armour. Wander through room upon room - each having an intriguing name and theme like Meridian, Mermaid and Seventh Heaven - peering into hidden corners to discover mysterious objects.
Postcode: WR12 7JU
Facilities: Shop, café, toilets, family changing room. Assistance dogs only.
Stay nearby at: Berry Cottage | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs
- Look out for the famed giant Roman snails!
- Dress up as a Roman, enjoy a free guided tour and discover some of the most spectacular mosaics in Britain.
Travel back in time at Chedworth Roman Villa, one of the most ancient National Trust Cotswolds properties. Home to the remains of one of the grandest Roman villas in Britain, this site is cradled within a beautiful wooded valley, a few miles from Roman Britain’s most affluent regional stronghold at Cirencester. Linked to the city via the Roman-built Fosse Way, Chedworth Roman Villa highlights some of the most useful inventions brought to Britain by the Roman Empire, including baths, remarkable underfloor heating systems, intricate mosaics and latrines.
This magnificent 4th-century building was once home to some of the wealthiest Romans in Britain, and was built here primarily for its natural spring which they enclosed within a temple known as the Nymphaeum. Today, visitors can traverse the grand ruins and rectangular foundations via suspended walkways to relinquish clues about the lives of the villa’s previous occupants. A small museum houses a range of finds and artefacts found here including jewellery, figurines, coins and glass, and excavations are ongoing.
Postcode: GL54 3LJ
Facilities: Café, toilets, baby-changing facilities, family activity packs and trails. Assistance dogs only on-site - there is dog-friendly seating behind the café and walks in the surrounding countryside.
Stay nearby at: Emma's Cottage | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog
- Visit the nearby Church of St Mary with its intricate Saxon and Norman carvings and beautiful medieval stained-glass windows.
- Have fun catching your own supper from Bibury Trout Farm before you leave, one of the oldest and most attractive trout farms in the country.
Set within the quintessential Cotswolds village of Bibury, once described by William Morris as 'the most beautiful village in England', the historic row of cottages known as Arlington Row is one of the most photographed places in England. Owned by the Cotswolds National Trust, these gorgeous cottages adorned with trailing roses and with higgledy-piggledy roofs are believed to have been built from local stone in 1380 as a monastic wool store, before being converted into weavers' cottages in the 17th century.
Today they are all private homes so there is no public access to the cottages or their gardens, but you can join other photo-snapping tourists to get the perfect picture-postcard shot, which is now so iconic it has even graced the inside cover of UK passports. Meandering past the cottages is the Rack Isle water meadow, so-called as wool was once hung out to dry here on racks after it had been washed in Arlington Row. Also owned by the National Trust, it provides an important habitat for an abundance of water-loving plants and birds and is a home for water voles, marsh orchid, flag iris and marsh marigold.
Postcode: GL7 5NP
Facilities: Pubs, restaurants, tearooms and parking in Bibury (not National Trust). Dogs welcome on leads.
Stay nearby at: Earl Grey Cottage | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog
- Tuck into a traditional Ploughman’s, locally made faggots or the legendary belly-busting Fleece Inn burger accompanied by a refreshing Fleece Folly cider.
- Visit at the end of May for the annual British Asparagus Festival Day or in October for the annual Apple and Ale Festival.
Steeped in history, The Fleece Inn is a National Trust pub in the Cotswolds with many stories to tell. Originally built in the early 15th century by a farmer named Byrd, the pub remained in the ownership of the same family until 1977 when the last of the descendants, Miss Lola Taplin, bequeathed the pub to the National Trust when she died - making it the first pub in the country to be owned by the charity. A formidable character fondly remembered by many of the locals, it is said that Lola still watches over the pub and its people in the incarnation of an owl that sits on the ridge of the thatched barn.
This handsome half-timbered medieval farmhouse was first licensed in 1848 and remains largely unchanged to this day, with curious witches’ circles and a precious pewter collection. It now serves delicious pub grub and has a strong reputation for traditional folk music, Morris dancing and most famously, pays homage to the locally grown asparagus during May and June. Roaring open fires, traditional low beamed ceilings, flagstone floors, well-worn settles and wonky walls are part of the charm here.
Postcode: WR11 7JE
Facilities: Food, real ales and ciders, toilets, orchard garden. Dogs and families welcome.
Stay nearby at: Bretforton's Wisteria Cottage | Sleeps 4
Hidcote, near Chipping Campden
- Lay out a blanket and enjoy a picnic beneath the towering trees of the secluded ‘Wilderness’.
- Pick up a bottle of the garden’s homemade apple juice from the shop or help yourself to delicious windfalls from the small orchard in autumn.
One of the finest National Trust gardens in the Cotswolds, Hidcote was created by the great American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston. This Arts and Crafts-inspired garden is one of the most inventive and influential gardens of the 20th century with its intricately designed outdoor spaces. Meander along a maze of narrow paved pathways and discover secret gardens, magnificent vistas and a profusion of colourful surprises.
Yew, holly and beech hedges have been used to define a series of exquisite garden rooms, each with its own unique character. There are water features, wildflower areas and shimmering pools with plenty of places to quietly sit and take in the calming atmosphere. Watch green woodpeckers, listen to the calls from buzzards circling overhead and if you time your visit just right, you might catch a glimpse of the elusive hummingbird moth. Many of the flowering plants and curling climbers were collected by Johnston on his travels to places like South Africa and China, so there’s a great mix of flora to take in – this is a must-visit for the green-fingered.
Postcode: GL55 6LR
Facilities: Café, plant centre, shop, toilets. Assistance dogs only.
Stay nearby at: Mickleton Lodge | Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs
- The long-distance Cotswold Way National Trail runs through the Crickley Hill Country Park which you can follow to discover even more beautiful views.
- A café and picnic area offer the perfect stops for refreshments after a wonderful walk up the hill.
If you want to discover a distinctive landmark rich in wildlife, archaeology and spectacular views, then Crickley Hill is one of the best National Trust sites in the Cotswolds. Jointly owned with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Crickley Hill is a prominent spur of the Cotswold escarpment and offers mesmerising panoramas over the Severn Vale, and the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains beyond.
The limestone grassland here is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, home to a variety of habitats and plants which in turn support wildflowers such as yellow wort, carline thistle, autumn gentian and clustered bellflower, as well as adders, slow worms and vast populations of butterflies including the Chalkhill Blue. It is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with a history extending back over 5,000 years. Archaeological excavations have revealed traces of brutal battles and an Iron Age Fort on the hill.
Postcode: GL4 8JY
Facilities: Café, toilets and car parks owned by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Dogs welcome (on leads at certain times of the year).
Stay nearby at: Broadridge Mews | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog
If you’d like to delve into the history of the Cotswolds and discover more of the region’s National Trust sites, then click the button below to find a cosy cottage to make yourself at home in during your stay. And if you’d like some more Cotswolds inspiration, why not have a read of our guide to things to do in the Cotswolds?