Following our cruise through the Baltic's we rented a car and headed for England's famed Cotswolds.

The"Cotswolds" refers to a region of gentle hilly English countryside occupying an area between Gloucester, Bath, Oxford and Stratford.

Because of it's many old homes, villages and beautiful rural settings, the Cotswolds have become one of England's favorite destinations for locals and overseas visitors alike.

The following is a photo record of some of the castles, manor homes and gardens we visited on our driving tour.

Photo memories of the Cotwolds

1300 year old Stanway house located at the village of Stanway and nearby church of St. Peter is the family home for the Earls of Wemyss .
The Church of St. Peter in Stanway village.
We found this churchyard wall at the Church of St. Peter. Around 1890 it was constructed from Norman stonework fragments originally part of a 13th century Benedictine Abby. We couldn’t help wondering who the occupant of the stone coffin might have been prior to being recycling as part of the wall.

Sudeley Castle
 The medieval Castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr the last surviving wife of King Henry VIII.  Other notables associated with Sudeley Castle's history were Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth I and Richard III. The restored medieval castle and un-restored associated ruins are surrounded by elaborate award-winning Victorian gardens.

Broadway Tower

Standing 65ft high, the tower sits dramatically on top of an ancient beacon site and was the brainchild of the great 18th Century landscape designer Capability Brown.

Chedworth Roman Villa
Is a Roman villa located at Chedworth, Gloucester and is one of the largest Roman villas in Britain. The villa was built in phases from the early 2nd century to the 4th century, with the early 4th century construction transforming the building into an elite dwelling arranged around three sides of a courtyard. The villa was discovered by accident in 1864, when a gamekeeper found fragments of paving and pottery atop the soil hiding the villa site.

Pillar Hypocaust - also know as underfloor heating.

Berkeley Castle is a beautiful and historic Castle, begun in 1117 and still remains the home of the Berkeley family today.
The Castle is steeped in nearly 1000 years of British history and is best known as the scene of the brutal murder of Edward II in 1327 and for being besieged by Cromwell’s troops in 1645. Over 24 generations of Berkeley’s have gradually transformed a Norman fortress into the lovely home it is today.
The state apartments contain magnificent collections of furniture, rare paintings by primarily English and Dutch masters, and tapestries. Some of the world famous Berkeley silver is on display in the Dining Room and many other rooms including the Great Hall, Morning Room and kitchens are available to view.
The castle is also surrounded by lovely terraced Elizabethan Gardens with a lily pond, Elizabeth I’s bowling green and sweeping lawns. The Castle, its surrounding grounds and Meadow are used throughout the year for special events such as Plays in the Gardens,

Compton Castle is a medieval fortress which was constructed in the 14th century then re-constructed in the 1950's and has been home for nearly 600 years to the Gilbert family, including Sir Humphrey Gilbert - half-brother to Sir Walter Raleigh.

In the 1920s Rupert and Lady Dorothy D'Oyly Carte were sailing along the South Devon coast looking for a country retreat when they were inspired to make this beautiful valley running down to the sea the site for an elegant home. 

Rupert was the son of Richard D'Oyly Carte, the impresario behind the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. What has been left for the visitor is a beautiful 1920’ Arts and Crafts style home and 30 acres of magnificent gardens featuring plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand thriving in this moist sheltered valley.

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens

Spanning nearly 300 years of horticultural history, these 60 acres of superbly landscaped gardens are set in East Devon's picturesque Otter Valley, between the ancient city of Exeter and southwest England's Jurassic Coast.

Above is the Parish Church of St Mary at Bicton Park constructed around 1843.
The old 15th century Holy Trinity Church at Bicton Park. This is a "planned ruin" left when the nearby St Marys Church was built in 1843.
Below is a watercolor of the old Holy Trinity Church by Rev. John Swete, March 1795.

A change from visiting castles and gardens was a day spent at the seaside town of Sidmouth. Located at the mouth of the river Sid and surrounded by 500 foot high cliffs Sidmouth is a town of beautiful gardens and leisurely walks.

Sidmouth has some very good examples of topiary which is the art of trimming and training shrubs or trees into amazing ornamental shapes.

A fine seafood dinner and glass of wine concludes our ten day drive around the Cotswolds. 
Our next stop is to be guests at the wedding of Joan’s niece, Susie Buckridge to her fiancĂ©e Hamish Maingay of New Zealand.

Click on flower girl Roseanne to view the wedding slides.
Our next stop after the wedding is to pickup a narrow boat we have rented for a  cruise from England to Wales. 
Please click on the picture below to view our other Jim & Joan adventures.