London Diary – Queen of Cotswold!

Feb 28, 2017

Maybe it is vitamin D deficiency catching up on me. Maybe it is that the novelty has faded a bit. Maybe this second winter in London is just a bit drab. Maybe it is depression caused by the Trump mess. In any case, I needed an escape. And it was Painswick of Gloucestershire, also known as Queen of Cotswold!

So drastically different from London, it is sometimes hard to believe that it is less than 2.5 hours away. But there it is, nestled in the hills and valleys of Cotswold, Painswick is everything that a traditional English village should be. Its village center on the hill is a treasure trove of traditional houses, buildings and churches covered in the Cotswold stones of golden honey, simply stunning and magical. Walking through the village center, especially in the evening, there was a sense of Déjà vu, reminiscent of Sarlat of France, albeit at a smaller scale.

Staying at Court House Manor is one of my best travel experience. Deep in history, where Charles I stayed during the English Civil War, its rooms are named King Richard, King Arthur, Cleopatra, and etc. The library decorated in two distinct styles is gorgeous, and guests can use it when the family is not. The most impressive feature is the beautiful building itself, with a lovely garden and view to the country side, all within its gated wall. The gated environment and smaller crowd give it a private and intimate vibe and to some degree the experience of truly being the guest of a manor house.

Standing on the other side of the wall is the beautiful St Mary’s Church with a soaring spire, which can be seen from various points. A small door in the wall connects the two, providing easy access to the church from the manor house. Besides a long and rich history and the beautiful building, St Mary has a unique feature, 99 yew trees on its church yard.

Over the course of more than a thousand years, owners have come and gone, buildings have changed too, but there have always been a manor house and church on its respective lot standing side by side.

Painswick Hotel is another grand house in village center. Interestingly, as beautiful as the building, it is not quite as rich in character as Court House Manor, nor does it have a garden equal in charm and size, but a beautiful building still. Its restaurant is popular. We went for lunch without reservation on Sunday but it was fully booked. Patchwork Mouse on New Street is a nice little café for light lunch, cake and tea. I liked its Coronation Chicken sandwich a lot. Cardynham House Bistro is close by and we had a nice dinner there one night.

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Just a few minutes from the village center is idyllic countryside. The walk from the village to Painswick Beacon is an interesting one, going through mostly farms, paddocks and natural areas. Once atop Painswick Beacon, there is a sweeping panoramic view. The following link provides helpful guide for the walk, https://www.walkingenglishman.com/cotswolds07.html

The encounter with the sheep. On way to Painswick Beacon from the village, not long after passing Rococo Garden, I got into a paddock via the stile, a whole flock of sheep that had been peacefully grazing, suddenly came running towards me. Panicked, I climbed back to safety, and while still on the stile, I turned around, they were standing there staring at me still. Hahaha, I had to take a selfie with them, behind me, staring. They dispersed moments later. What brought that on?

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A couple other worthy mentions. For a wonderful view of the village, head south east towards Sheepscombe, a nice little village itself, turn left to Bulls X from Greenhouse Ln. Wolfpack Inn on Slad Road, Stroud is a popular pub 20 minutes south of Painswick.

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Last but not least, a visit to Painswick will not be complete without a wander in its Rococo Garden, and its carpet of snow drops.

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On way back to London, I decided we should take a little detour to Gloucester. Gloucester was unimpressive until we arrived at its Cathedral of the same name. A magnificent façade, cavernous interior, beautiful stain glasses and most stunning cloister I’ve ever set eyes on, it is breathtaking. Most felicitously, the organ was playing; it couldn’t be more atmospheric! A great end to a lovely weekend getaway.

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