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  • Joanne Herd

Stow on the Wold: Discover England's Countryside Charm

Updated December 6, 2023

Stow on the Wold - The name itself evokes images of rolling hills, charming cottages, and slower, more gracious way of life. And the reality of the town lives up to the name!

In the heart of the Cotswolds, Stow on the Wold is a must-visit for anyone looking for quintessential English countryside charm, and should be included in any Cotswolds travel itinerary.

But Stow on the Wold isn’t just another pretty Cotswold village, with honey-colored stone houses and ancient churches and inns. It’s a town steeped in history, with plenty of things to see, places to explore, and pubs and tea houses to linger in.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you decide to make a booking through my links, at no cost to you.

Things to see in Stow on the Wold

Stow on the Wold is a charming small town, with plenty of things to see over the course of a day or two. It’s also a great base to stay while exploring some of the surrounding Cotswold towns and villages as part of a Cotswolds travel itinerary.

Stow on the Wold has a lot of history, and was the crossing of several major roads, including the ancient Roman Fosse Way. As a result it’s long been one of the most important and influential towns in the area. It's also the highest town in the Cotswolds, situated at the top of Stow Hill and visible for miles around.

One of the best things to do in Stow on the Wold is to simply walk around. While there aren’t a lot of major sites to see, the town is lovely, with lots of tea rooms, antique shops, pubs, art galleries and local shops to pop in and have a browse. Nearly three quarters of the shops and restaurants in town are small, independent shops.

As you walk around you may come across small alleyways hedged with tall stone walls. They’re called “tures", and are believed to have been built to direct the sheep herds from the pastures around town into the market square. Today they make great passageways between roads, since cross streets are infrequent.

Market Square

A cozy exterior view of Lucy's Tearoom, a quintessential English tearoom located in Market Square, Stow on the Wold.
Lucy's Tearoom in Market Square

Stow on the Wold is a market town, meaning a royal charter granted in 1107 AD by King Henry I gave them the right to hold a weekly market. A later charter by Edward III in 1330 AD also allowed a yearly, week-long sheep and livestock market, establishing Stow on the Wold as a center of trade.

The yearly market was replaced in the 15th century with two yearly 5-day markets, one to take place in May and the other in October. Large horse fairs are still held in Stow on the Wold in May and October each year.

The market cross, erected in the 15th century, still stands in the center of the Market Square. While a weekly market is no longer held, there is a lovely little farmers market on the second Thursday of the month. I was fortunate to be in town on market day, and picked up some lovely pastries for breakfast and a few other treats as well.

Surrounding the square you’ll find several tea rooms and pubs, which are great for a midday rest while you’re exploring. I recommend stopping in Lucys Tearoom or Huffkins for a traditional English afternoon tea, or one of the pubs lining Market Square for lunch or dinner.

St. Edward’s Church

Majestic ancient doors framed by yew trees at St. Edward's Church, a historical landmark in Stow on the Wold.
Stow's most famous doors at St. Edward's Church

The most famous location in Stow on the Wold is the yew-tree-framed doors of St Edwards Church.

Rumored to be the inspiration for JRR Tolkien and the doors to Moria in the Lord of the Rings, they really are lovely.

The church was built between the 11th and 15th centuries, and although many visitors only stop to see the doors, it’s worth stepping inside to take a look around.

Both St Edward’s Church and Market Square also played a role in the First English Civil War in 1646. Fought between Royalists, loyal to King Charles I, and Parliamentarians, who were loyal to the English Parliament. On March 21, 1646 the two sides clashed at nearby Donnington before the Royalists fled back through Stow.

Local legend says that the fighting was so fierce that blood flowed down Digbeth Street before the Royalists, commanded by Sir Jacob Astley, surrendered in Market Square. Some of the surviving prisoners were confined in St. Edward’s Church since it was the most secure building in the village.

Other places to visit near Stow on the Wold

Stow on the Wold is in a great location in the center of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, the northern section of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). That means it’s very convenient to visit several of the most beautiful villages in the Cotswolds.

Within 5 miles you have the villages of Bourton on the Water, Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter. About 6 miles away you’ll find the Cotswold Farm Park, which makes a great day out for families and has one of the largest annual lambing events in all of England.

Only about 10 miles away is the Cotswold town of Broadway and the Broadway Tower, with some of the most extensive views across the surrounding countryside from the top. You can also visit Snowshill Manor and, in season, the Cotswold Lavender fields.

How to get to Stow on the Wold

Stow on the Wold doesn’t have a train station, but there is a train station in nearby Moreton-in-Marsh. Great Western Railways (GWR) has multiple trains per day that run from London Paddington and stop in Moreton-in-Marsh.

If you’re heading out to Stow on the Wold after arriving at London Heathrow, take the Heathrow Express into Paddington. You can easily connect to a GWR train running through Moreton-in-Marsh.

Moreton-in-Marsh doesn’t have a taxi stand, so you’ll want to arrange transportation from there to Stow-on-the-Wold in advance. You can hire a car and driver, or contact a local taxi company in advance to arrange a pickup.

I do recommend making arrangements in advance, especially during busy travel times, since local taxi companies can be fully booked with pre-arranged transfers and tours around the region.

The easiest way to get to Stow on the Wold, or any other Cotswold village that doesn’t have a train station, is to rent a car and drive. Keep in mind that in the UK they drive on the left side of the road!

If you’re not comfortable renting a car, hiring a driver from a local Cotswold tour or taxi company is the best way to get around.

Where to shop in Stow on the Wold

The quaint cobblestone Talbot Court with its boutique shops and bakeries in the heart of Stow on the Wold.
Talbot Court and its boutique shops

One of the most fun things to do in Stow on the Wold is browse the shops. There are plenty to choose from!

The Cotswold Cheese Company

If you enjoy cheese, you need to stop at the Cotswold Cheese Company. With more than 120 artisan and farmhouse cheeses, the shop focuses primarily on local cheese produced in the Cotswolds. Pick up a couple different kinds of cheese and some accompaniments and enjoy a picnic lunch in town or further afield in the countryside.

Location: Digbeth Street, Stow on the Wold, GL54 1BN

Scotts of Stow

If you’re looking for home and garden goods, Scotts of Stow is the place to look. Their flagship store sits in Market Square, and across the square you’ll find their second store, appropriately named “Across the Square”. I liked “Across the Square” best, with its seasonal decor and clothing, and couldn’t resist picking up a couple of scarves to bring home.

Location: The Square, Stow on the Wold, GL54 1AF

Talbot Court

This small shopping area, between Church Street and Sheep Street, is full of boutique shops. From home goods to jewelry to temporary pop-up shops, it’s worth walking through and stopping in any shops that strike your fancy.

Location: Talbot Ct, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1BQ

Where to Stay in Stow on the Wold

If you’d like to stay overnight, which I do recommend, Stow on the Wold has several historic inns and pubs with rooms, including the oldest inn in England. There are also a variety of rental cottages and apartments, which are especially appealing for families.

The Porch House

The iconic facade of The Porch House, reputed to be England's oldest inn, set against a serene backdrop in Stow on the Wold.
The Porch House, great for staying or for dinner

Located in the heart of Stow-on-the-Wold, The Porch House was originally built in the 10th century as a hospice for pilgrims. This pub hotel has been beautifully restored, with an elegant and effortless mix of old-world charm and modern comfort.

The standout feature of The Porch House is its 13 individually decorated rooms, each with its own unique character and decor. Think carved wooden beams, original fireplaces, and soft lighting that make each room feel cozy and welcoming. You might find exposed stone walls, or even a canopy bed that’s fit for royalty.

The restaurant features locally sourced ingredients, making it a popular choice for both guests and locals. Plus, with its central location in Stow-on-the-Wold, you’re just steps away from charming boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, and pubs.

Rent a cottage

The outside of Spinner's Cottage in Stow on the Wold. Available to rent through Sykes Cottages.
Spinner's Cottage, where we stayed in Stow

We stayed in Stow on the Wold for a week, exploring the village and the towns nearby. Since we were staying for longer than a night or two we decided to rent a cottage.

We used Sykes Cottages, and the cottage we stayed in, Spinner’s Cottage, was wonderful! I highly recommend this cottage if you’re looking to stay in Stow on the Wold for a few nights.

Where to eat in Stow on the Wold

There are plenty of dining options in Stow on the Wold. Many places fill up for dinner, so I recommend making dinner reservations if possible.

The Porch House

The Porch House is an excellent choice for lunch, dinner, or a drink in the bar. I’ll be honest, we had dinner here twice because it was that good!

The menu features many locally sourced ingredients, showcasing the best flavors of the Cotswolds. From hearty pub classics like fish and chips or steak and ale pie to more inventive dishes, your tastebuds will be surprised and delighted.

If you’re planning to go for dinner, make sure to have a reservation, or a booking as they call it in England. They often book up a few days in advance.

Location: Digbeth Street, Stow on the Wold, GL54 1BN

The Stag at Stow

This local gastropub serves fresh, seasonal, local food in both their bar and main restaurant. It’s a lovely spot, especially on a cool or rainy evening. The Stag at Stow isn’t your grandparents' pub fare!

The burger was really good, as were their pies of the day (savory pies, like steak and ale) and their risotto. This is another one we went to twice!

Location: The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AF

Otis & Belle

Otis and Belle in Talbot Court, Stow on the Wold. The cobblestoned court is lined with stone and brick buildings and strung with lights to illuminate it in the evening.
Otis and Belle in Talbot Court

Located in Talbot Court, Otis & Belle is a small bakery with the best croissants I’ve had outside of France. They’re so good we made a point to go every morning they were open! They have plenty of other baked goods as well, but I kept coming back for the croissants.

Location: Talbot Ct, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1BQ

Coach House Coffee

Just off of Market Square, Coach House Coffee has great coffee and great pastries as well. While it looks small from the outside, they have two additional floors of seating upstairs. Sit by a window to enjoy the view over Market Square.

Location: 1 Talbot Sq, Stow on the Wold, GL54 1BQ

The bottom line

Stow on the Wold is more than just a dot on the map; it's a snapshot of what makes the Cotswolds and England travel so enchanting.

From its historic sites to its modern-day luxuries, it offers a well-rounded Cotswolds travel experience that's hard to match.

So, what are you waiting for? Discover the charm of Stow on the Wold for yourself. Your Cotswolds adventure awaits!

If you liked this post you'll want to check out our other Cotswold destination guides.


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