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Cotswold Walks & Hikes and Bikes
Specialists in guided, self-guided and bespoke hiking holidays.
Specialists in guided, self-guided and bespoke hiking holidays.

Cotswold Walks & Hikes and Bikes's posts

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Bibury Court hotel goes continental

In a surprise decision the owners of this 16th Century Jacobean mansion have decided to close its doors as a traditional country hotel and it will become a private members club and events venue. We included the hotel on our luxury tours but with the option of only a continental breakfast, limited stays from Thursday to Saturday and no dinner guaranteed we will have to say farewell to this majestic and much loved hotel. We wish them well in their new venture and the only real chance to enjoy the hotel will be on the walk past as Bibury was considered the most beautiful village in England by William Morris and that is more evident than ever.

The hotel has a very interesting history as recorded on the Bibury Court website;

Bibury Court is a Grade I listed Jacobean mansion, built on the site of a former Benedictine monastery.

It dates from the late 16th Century, and was then extended in 1633 by Sir Thomas Sackville, the illegitimate son of the 1st Earl of Dorset who was ‘Knight and gentleman-usher in dailie waiting on the King’ (James I). Due to his exorbitant acquisitions and probably also the fact that he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was amusingly known as "Fill Sack".

Charles II is reputed to have visited the Court when he attended Bibury Races, as did the Prince Regent during the reign of George III.

The house remained in the Sackville family for several generations and through the female line passed to the Cresswells.

The interior was remodelled for Estcourt Cresswell in 1759. And this was after he had been discovered to be a double bigamist. Shrugging that of, he promptly became an MP.

It was this family, through the Rev. Sackville Cresswell (note how he had to keep the original family name), who, owing to a disputed will and years of litigation, sold the house between 1826 and 1829 to the Rt. Hon. Lord Sherborne. Bibury Court (then Bibury Manor) became his favourite living place.

Charles Dickens is said to have written ‘Bleak House’ with this court case in mind. Slightly unfair on the house.

James Henry Legge Dutton (3rd Baron Sherborne) was was an avid race horse breeder and an active member of the Bibury Club, the world's oldest racing club, which was formed in 1681 and held meetings on Macaroni Downs above Bibury until the early part of the twentieth century.

From about 1864, it seems that Lord Sherborne was then in the habit of leasing out the "mansion" and grounds to a variety of tenants; a Captain in the Life Guards, a miller (very apt) and a farmer to name a few.

Naturally by the turn of the century the building had started to fall into disrepair. In 1926 a refurbishment programme began for the latest owners, the Clarke family, who had bought the estate the year before. Two years of hard work ensued (by the architects Messrs. Kennedy & Nightingale, yet by 1931 the house was being rented out again whilst the owners lived abroad.

Sir Orme Bigland Clarke (b. 1880) was married to Elfrida Roosevelt, and although the former died in 1949, the house remained in the family's ownership until 1968 when it was sold after the death of Lady Clarke.

It was then bought by the Wynne-Jones family and turned into a hotel. A couple of owners later and this glorious house is available for private hire for weddings, parties and conferences as well as get togethers and reunions.

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Sudeley Castle captured in print

Some wonderful prints of historic monuments are being sold by Panteek Antique Prints in USA and one that caught our eye was Sudeley or Sewdley Castle in Winchcombe which is enjoyed by many of our clients during their walking tours. We thought you might like to see how it appeared over 280 years ago and how it appears today. For other historic venues you may have visited yourselves please visit their website;

Sewdley Castle, Gloucester BKV357 $165
Each print measures approximately 18 inches wide by 11 3/8 inches long

We are delighted to offer these beautiful copper-engraved views from the historic work of the brothers Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, Views of Ruins of Castles & Abbeys in England, 1726-1742. Samuel and Nathaniel Buck were the most important topographical artists of the 18th century, creating a record of over 500 ancient monuments & towns in England and Wales. Many of these monuments had been devastated during the course of the Reformation, particularly during the period when Oliver Cromwell ruled England as "Lord Protector." The Bucks Views, as they have become known, provide an invaluable record of these magnificent buildings, some of which have seen further deterioration during the 275 years that have since passed.

The prints are all ORIGINAL copper engravings from the 1726 edition, with its characteristic numbering of each plate in the margin. Each engraving describes in beautiful copperplate below the image, the history of the monument, from Norman times to the early 18th century, including changes of ownership. Most prints show a dedication and coat of arms. It is an emotional journey for those who love England to look through these prints as they embody so much of the history of England in the succinct yet all encompassing descriptions by the brothers Buck along with the fabulous engravings.

Originally, they were printed and sold in sets of 24, each set covering several counties, taking the brothers Buck 30 years to complete. Each set was originally priced at 2 guineas. Here is the stuff of legends: Tintagel, birthplace of King Arthur; Buckland, property of the Elizabethan sailor Sir Francis Drake, and many more. We have the series almost complete, with the bookplate of Sir Robert Grosvenor.
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Last Saturday, 8th Nov. saw the official unveiling on the new Cotswold Way marker stone in Chipping Campden. The national trail stretches 102 miles (164km) from the village to Bath.

The stone itself made from Irish Blue Limestone was designed by local artist, Iain Cotton who was commissioned to make the first almost identical marker stone outside the steps of Bath Abbey back in 2012. The trail can easily be walked in either direction and some prefer to head south to north with the advantage of the sun on their back so the markers are either your beginning or your end!!

The marker is beautiful and lists many of the towns and sights on the Cotswold Way, in the order that you walk to them. On the outer edge is a quote from TS Eliot from East Coker, the second of his Four Quartets.

"Now the light falls across the open fields leaving the deep lane shuttered with branches dark in the afternoon."

TS Eliot was himself a visitor to Chipping Campden and came to see his friend Emily Hale. They strayed into the garden of Burnt Norton House, overgrown and abandoned after the owner Sir William Keyte went mad and set fire to it. Burnt Norton is the first of his Four Quartets and if rumour can be believed Burnt Norton House having been lovingly restored might act as the next inspiration for Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows.

The marker in Bath has an old testament quote, from Jeremiah 6:16.

"Stand ye in the ways and see, ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."

The marker was unveiled by the Mayor of Chipping Campden and a schoolboy who represented children from the local school who had been instrumental in helping to raise the £11,000 needed for the project. Cotswold Walks was also happy to make a donation to such a worthy cause for which we are dependent for our livelihood.

It was a rainy day but the crowds gathered in anticipation and were well represented by the Cotswold Volunteer Wardens who to help maintain the trail and were so instrumental in making the new marker possible and the ANOB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) officer James Blockley, who is responsible for the management of the trail.

The Cotswold Way is a challenging walk and was officially launched in 2007 and is often completed in 6-10 days of walking depending on how much you want to test your stamina. It is different from the majority of other walks in the Cotswolds as the primary focus is the walk itself rather than encouraging extra exploration once you arrive at you overnight destination and the achievement of reaching Bath or Chipping Campden.

If you would like further details on which Cotswold Way itinerary or alternative walk might be best suited to you please drop us a line.
Cotswold Way marker
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