As we’re unable to travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m reminiscing about a sweet, sunny August day in western Oxfordshire.
The beautiful old cottages in this part of England’s Cotswolds are lovely beyond belief. A stroll through its villages takes you back in time to the 11th and 12th centuries.
My favorite for cottage-spotting in this area is Old Minster Lovell, a picturesque, one-road village along the River Windrush. (Could there be a more poetic name for a river?)
Half-timbers and thatched roofs greet you as soon as soon as you cross the one-way bridge. My husband and I found a parking space near the parish church on a sunny day and walked down the lane snapping photos of hollyhocks and roses.
We put in our name for a lunch reservation at the Old Swan Inn. With an hour to explore before we ate, we walked the footpath up to Minster Lovell Hall, a ruined, 15th-century manor house that’s right by the river.
Remnants of towers and arched windows made a pretty setting amid the lush grasses and trees. On this Sunday afternoon, families with young children picnicked on the lawns among the ruins.
Teens kicked soccer balls to one another. I just couldn’t imagine a better place for relaxing and drinking in the beauty of the Oxfordshire countryside.
After our exploration, we enjoyed a lunch of potato-leek soup and delicious goat-cheese salads. The Old Swan has been around for more than 500 years, but this gastro-pub has a 21st-century kitchen that serves seasonal, local ingredients creatively combined for full flavor.
The pub’s interior was as charming as its ivy-covered stone exterior: its Old-World half-timbers, cockeyed windows, and stone walls made me feel every century of its heritage.
Though the meal was fantastic, what I will always remember about Old Minster Lovell is its cottages—and dreaming of what it would be like to live in one of them.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor
Originally posted November 2015
Read more about my travels in England:
- Village-to-Village Walking in the Cotswolds: Day 1
- Walking in the Cotswolds Day 2: The Beautiful Slaughters
- New Uses for England’s Old Phone Booths
- Wandering the Venice of the Cotswolds: Bourton-on-Water
- Musings from Cotswold Trails (Day 3): Naunton & Guiting Power
- Winchcombe: This Cotswolds Village Is a Hub for Hiking
- Cottages in the Cotswolds: Old Minster Lovell
- My Pilgrimage to the Real Downton Abbey
- Bampton, England: Film Location for “Downton Abbey”
- King Tut Meets “Downton Abbey” at England’s Highclere Castle
- An Eco-Elegant English Hotel, “Downton Abbey” Style
- Sweet Dreams at “Downton Abbey”
- Touring England’s Ancient Roman Baths by Romantic Torchlight
- A Birthday among the Ancient Rocks of Stonehenge
I’m with you about the snow…although it’s funny thinking of “sunny England.” But your pics are so pretty.
We loved our brief visits to Castle Combe and Lacock last year. Such beautiful villages! We were grateful for sunshine too.
We visited Lacock too, but it was pouring buckets the day we were there, so it really was no fun. All we did was stop at a bakery for a scone and hot tea; then we went on to Bath. But I will definitely take another try next time we’re in Britain.
Love this post. When I was a child, I lived in the Cotswolds in Ascot-Under-Wychwood. It was a dreamlike time. Not positive, but I think I remember the Old Swn Inn.
Seems like a dreamlike place!
I am a Certified Historic House Specialist and EcoBroker practicing in Texas so I love old, naturally built, sustainable homes. In the midst of planing our upcoming trip to the British Isles, I fell in love with the Cotswolds and am devoting time to seeing a few choice spots. I will include a trip to the Downton Abbey village of Bampton! The thatched rooks and half timbering along with the beautiful stone in the homes and buildings of the Cotswolds! So incredibly lovely! Can’t wait to go see in person!
So happy that you’re involved with historic, sustainably built houses. Once upon a time, I was an editor at Natural Home magazine! In England, it’s amazing to stay in hotels built hundreds of years ago!