Photography : AKP Photos / Alamy , Nick Maslen / Alamy
this lion , with Stow ’ s auctions being among the biggest : according to the writer Daniel Defoe , up to 20,000 sheep were sold in the square on market days .
The square is still the life and social soul of Stow , with a concentration of listed 18th-century townhouses , shops , cafés and hotels within a few minutes ’ walk . It ’ s also where you ’ ll find three key landmarks : the Market Cross , the penal stocks and St Edward ’ s Church . The cross and stocks , both with origins in the 15th century , are at opposite ends of the square – the first presumably pointing to the second to warn traders that ’ s where they ’ ll end up if they ’ re dishonest – while St Edward ’ s is
with embellishments added through the centuries . Quite apart from its significance as an impromptu prison for 1,500 Cavaliers after the bloody massacre of
English Civil War , the church has also found a place in the literary history books on account of its tree-framed north door , which peeps through two ancient yews that grow on either side . JRR Tolkien was a frequent visitor to the Cotswolds , and Stow likes to claim it was this entrance that inspired his Doors of Durin .
But the pleasures of visiting Stow-on-the-Wold are not rooted in history alone . While its feet may be planted in the past its eyes are firmly on its future , and it is this more than anything that is energising the area . For exceptional food from a chef who has worked in leading restaurants across the world , visit D ’ Ambrosi Fine Foods . For comforting pub classics such as sausage and mash , visit the 17th-century Queen ’ s Head . At The Hive , local cheeses and sashimi-cut salmon feature on tempting platters .
Goldilocks will have no trouble finding the comfiest bed for the night as the choice is varied , from bed and breakfasts and country inns to self-catering cottages and luxurious hotels , including The Porch House – believed to be the oldest pub in the country . But more than that , it is a place where people like to live . The streets may no longer be paved with the golden fleece of the
artists and entrepreneurs injecting vitality and creativity into the town . Its reputation as one of the best places to live in the UK looks guaranteed . ●
We ’ ve stores in beautiful regions across the country . Pay us a visit , and enjoy the area while you ’ re there , too
CHELMSFORD Head to the outskirts of the city for some period interiors inspiration at Hylands House ( open selected Sundays ). Within the Grade II-listed Neoclassical villa lie meticulously restored rooms showcasing Georgian and Victorian splendour .
GODALMING In this ancient market town set on the banks of the River Wey , a tavern has stood on the site of The Star pub since 1882 . Packed with old-world character , and decked out with beautiful blooms , it ’ s a welcoming place to take a seat , tuck into home-cooked food and sample a craft beer or locally produced gin .
HARROGATE Amid rolling countryside , Harrogate is the quintessential Victorian spa town . Just wandering its quaint , pretty streets is time well spent . The antique shops and galleries , independent boutiques , bakeries and eateries will all delight , but it ’ s hard to resist Bettys Café Tea Room , a Yorkshire institution .
NORWICH Step into the Plantation Garden , and you ’ ll step back in time . A hidden treasure in the heart of the city , it ’ s a haven for wildlife and lucky visitors alike . Established a century ago in an abandoned quarry , it ’ s an enchanting take on a Victorian town garden , complete with a Gothic fountain , Italianate terrace , woodland walkways , lawns and a rustic bridge .