Bewitching Winchcombe

Now newly-revamped after its closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Winchcombe Museum has a recollection of local history and its bigger-than-life residents throughout the years.

September 17, 2022

While Sudeley in Gloucestershire, England, was an exploration of a thousand-acre private property, the rest of Cotswolds seemed like one open-air garden after another, with pleasant surprises at each and every turn — and Winchcombe was the standout choice for our adventure on the following day. Make haste!

WELCOME WINCHCOMBE: Honey Jarque-Loop in front of the town map

Meaning valley with a bend, Winchcombe is a quaint medieval market town of some 6,000 inhabitants that still preserves the natural curvature of its narrow streets — for this, visitors continue to flock in droves.

However, the pretty hamlet had rough beginnings. During the Restoration in 1660, the walled village was avoided due to its lawlessness and cattle raiding. Although the protective ruins of old have all but deteriorated, the original cathedrals and chapels, royal homes and manor houses, inns and pubs, still serve as an ode to the past.

PRESERVED DUTY: A dedicated section for police memorabilia

Our first stop for the day was the small-but-packs-a-punch Winchcombe Museum, all staffed by greathearted volunteers. Now newly-revamped after its closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the showroom has a recollection of local history and its bigger-than-life residents throughout the years. A section is dedicated to the Simms Collection of Police Memorabilia, all owned by former police officer Ross Simms.

SKYLINE FIXTURE: The tower of St. Peter’s Church

However, the crowd drawer was the Winchcombe Meteorite, a foreign rock from an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, which fell into a driveway in 2011. We learned the celestial material contains particles which were traced to the beginning of the solar system itself!

Our next destination was the St. Peter’s Church, which dates back to the 1450s — yet still retains its original appearance. While the steeple is 90-foot in height, the exterior is filled with 40 stone sculptures — half on demons, while the others on aged abbey dignitaries. What caught our eye was a human figure with a peculiar smile — believed to be based on the Mad Hatter.

HOLY COLORS: A stained glass window in one of the local chapels

Meanwhile, pilgrims flock to the altar cloth made exclusively by Queen Catherine of Aragon during her time at Sudeley Castle. In Tudor style, it features a pomegranate, which is known to be her very own symbol.

As we ambled through the sloping alleys of town, we encountered various mom-and-pop bed and breakfasts. Misty View is a luxurious cottage, while the Wesley House welcomes guests to a 15th century merchant’s quarters. The Lion Inn is a holistic experience, with its pub and restaurant along with its own suites.

SACRED PEWS: Two gentlemen in front of the altar

Aside from these eye-catching looks, we likewise sighted half-timbered houses such as the Butterfly and Thyme Cottages, all complete with fragrant potted flowers and markers that stand as reminders on their history.

Winding down the day, we snooped around the local markets, with their distinct artisanal goods. A bakery stood out due to its peculiar décor of a bicycle with fresh loaves on its basket.

ANCIENT ROUNDABOUT: The author by the dried-up well-cum-junction

Meanwhile, other shops had their selection of fresh produce such as large pumpkins, sweet pears, vibrant cucumbers, red tomatoes and newly-harvested onions. And not to forget, everywhere we turned, flowers bloomed in every container imaginable.

As we headed to our traditional dinner, we sighted pairs and groups of cyclists in complete gear as they toured the hamlet. Meanwhile, a string of elderly citizens with their walkers and walking sticks were on their way to the tranquil circular path by the riverside.

AUTUMN FOLIAGE: A vine-crept home

But that’s for another story, another time.

SPEND THE NIGHTS: More idyllic bed and breakfasts
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The homely Corner Cupboard Inn
BREAD AND BASKETS: A buyer stocks up on loaves
NATURE’S BOUNTY: A selection of in-season produce
COLOR ME PURPLE: The natural colors of the area’s flora

 


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