The Cotswolds

What is the Oldest Town in the Cotswolds?

May 27, 2024

What is the Oldest Town in the Cotswolds?

What is the Oldest Village in the Cotswolds?

Nestled atop a flat hill encircled by the River Avon at the southern entrance to the Cotswolds, Malmesbury proudly claims the title of the oldest continually inhabited town in England. Known as the "Queen of Hilltop Towns," Malmesbury boasts a rich history spanning over a millennium.

  • Historical Significance: Official records trace Malmesbury back to the fifth century, but archaeological excavations have revealed remains of an Iron Age fort, suggesting habitation as far back as 500 BC.
  • Ancient Architecture: The town is home to England’s oldest hotel, the Old Bell, which has been welcoming guests since 1220.
  • Cultural Heritage: Malmesbury’s history is deeply intertwined with the early medieval period, offering a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved buildings and historical landmarks.
  • Charming Ambiance: Walking through Malmesbury feels like stepping back in time, with its narrow streets and ancient structures creating a uniquely enchanting atmosphere.

Malmesbury’s rich heritage and continuous habitation make it a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

What is the Most Picturesque Town in the Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds is renowned for its stunning villages and towns, each offering a unique slice of quintessential English beauty. Among these, Castle Combe often stands out as the most picturesque.

  • Untouched Beauty: Castle Combe has retained its historical charm, with no new houses built since the 1600s. Its medieval architecture and cobblestone streets create a timeless appeal.
  • Scenic Views: The village is nestled in a wooded valley, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Photographic Opportunities: Iconic spots like the weavers’ cottages by the river bridge offer perfect photography opportunities that capture the essence of the Cotswolds.
  • Charming Details: From the medieval Market Cross to the faceless Castle Combe Clock, every corner of the village is steeped in history and charm.

Castle Combe's unspoiled beauty and fairy-tale-like setting make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Cotswolds.

What is the Main Town in the Cotswolds?

Cirencester, often referred to as the "Capital of the Cotswolds," is the principal town in this picturesque region. Its historical significance and vibrant community make it the main hub for locals and visitors.

  • Historical Centre: Cirencester has roots dating back to Roman times, with numerous archaeological sites and museums showcasing its rich history.
  • Bustling Market Town: The town is known for its lively markets, offering everything from local produce to unique crafts.
  • Cultural Attractions: With its grand church, the Parish Church of St John Baptist, and various historical buildings, Cirencester offers a wealth of cultural and architectural attractions.
  • Modern Amenities: Despite its historical charm, Cirencester provides modern amenities, including boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants, catering to both residents and tourists.

Cirencester’s blend of historical significance and contemporary vibrancy makes it the main town in the Cotswolds.

Which is the Best Cotswold Village to Stay In?

Choosing the best village to stay in the Cotswolds can be challenging due to the region's numerous charming options. However, a few villages stand out for their unique appeal and amenities.

  • Burford: Known for its beautiful High Street lined with medieval buildings, Burford offers a mix of history, charm, and excellent local amenities.
  • Stow-on-the-Wold: This market town is famous for its antique shops and traditional market square. It’s an ideal base for exploring the northern Cotswolds.
  • Chipping Campden: With its elegant terraced High Street, Chipping Campden is perfect for those seeking picturesque views and rich history.
  • Broadway: Often referred to as the "Jewel of the Cotswolds," Broadway boasts a charming High Street and is an excellent spot for boutique shopping and fine dining.

Each of these villages provides a unique and delightful experience, making any of them an excellent choice for a stay in the Cotswolds.


The Cotswolds is a region rich in history, beauty, and charm. From the ancient town of Malmesbury to the picturesque village of Castle Combe, the bustling town of Cirencester, and the idyllic villages like Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold, there is something for everyone. Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, the Cotswolds offers a perfect blend of attractions and experiences.


Which is the Best Cotswold Village to Stay In?

Some of the best places to stay in the Cotswolds include Burford, Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden, and Broadway. Each village offers unique charm, excellent amenities, and picturesque settings, making them ideal bases for exploring the region.

Which Cotswold Villages are Least Touristy?

For those seeking lesser-known gems, consider visiting Blockley, Bagendon, and Lechlade. These villages offer beautiful architecture and tranquil atmospheres without the crowds often found in more popular destinations.

What is the Most Expensive Area in the Cotswolds?

The GL7 and GL8 postcodes, particularly in Cirencester and Tetbury, are among the most expensive areas in the Cotswolds. Properties in these areas can fetch high prices, with some streets in Tetbury reaching over £8 million on average.

What Famous People Live in the Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds is home to several celebrities, including Richard Hammond, Dom Joly, Tony Adams, and Jilly Cooper. The region’s beauty and tranquillity make it a popular choice for those seeking a serene lifestyle.

What Overlooked Cotswolds Village is a Favourite of the A-List?

Coln St Aldwyns is a lesser-known but charming village in the Cotswolds that has become a favourite among the A-list. Its unspoiled beauty and serene environment make it an ideal hideaway.

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