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Standing proud at the top of our region, glorious Gloucestershire is well worth exploring. It might be landlocked, but with so much to see and do, who needs the beach?
Visitors to this pleasant county can discover beautiful buildings with fascinating stories to tell, from classic manor houses to magnificent mansions. It also boasts two of Britain’s finest gardens, each a standout example of its kind. There’s plenty of fine parkland to stroll in, and the idyllic countryside offers some of the best walking in the country.
Houses with history
Where to begin? Dyrham Park is the stately late 17th-century home of William Blathwayt, a civil servant of considerable political influence. Highlights include the original Dutch-inspired interiors and formal garden, and of course the historic herd of fallow deer roaming the dramatic parkland.
You can discover 450 years of life at the comparatively modest-sized Newark Park, once a hunting lodge. It is even believed to have its own friendly ghosts. The views to the Mendips are truly breathtaking, and the peaceful garden and surrounding countryside are perfect for relaxing in.
From the outside, Snowshill Manor is a typical Cotswolds manor house with a peaceful hillside garden. Inside, it’s jam-packed with a mind-boggling collection of everyday and extraordinary objects, lovingly amassed by Charles Wade, a passionate treasure seeker. From tiny toys to suits of Samurai armour, this quirky place begs to be explored.
Going further back in time, Chedworth Roman Villa brings to life the golden age of Roman Britain. It would’ve once been home to somebody of wealth and stature, evident from the design features including underfloor heating and spectacular mosaics. New glass walkways allow visitors to stand directly above the mosaics, and there’s an exhibition displaying artefacts from past excavations.
Then there's the 13th-century former Cistercian abbey, Hailes Abbey, and the charming Horton Court, once a Norman hall and now a manor house.
It’s no secret that Hidcote is regarded as one of the finest examples of a quintessential English country garden – although it was actually created by an American. The exquisite garden rooms, each with its own character, contain unusual plants collected from all around the world. The garden changes in harmony with the seasons, so it’s no wonder that many visitors return time and again.
Westbury Court Garden has the distinction of being the only restored Dutch water garden in the country. Along with tranquil canals and clipped hedges, it boasts a huge tulip tree and many old varieties of fruit trees that are the star attraction of a popular annual apple event.
Idyllically set in a wooded valley, Woodchester Park contains the remains of a landscape park with a chain of five lakes. It’s gradually being restored, and waymarked trails lead through the picturesque scenery with a new play trail for children.
Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate has England’s only surviving 17th-century deer course and grandstand. Visitors can enjoy dramatic views from the grandstand of the landscape designed by Charles Bridgeman in the 1720s, and the romantic countryside is perfect for picnics and walks.
As a county of the famous Cotswolds, and home to the Severn and Wye valleys, walkers flock to Gloucestershire for the miles of footpaths and trails criss-crossing the unspoilt countryside.
As you’d expect from the undulating hills, here it’s all about the views. On the Cotswold escarpment, Crickley Hill has extensive views all the way to the Welsh Hills. Rodborough Common overlooks Stroud and the Severn vale and is renowned for its wildlife. May Hill, a wide expanse of open grassland, bracken and gorse, has marvellous views across Herefordshire from its summit.