I had heard that Castle Combe was the “prettiest village in England” and let me tell you they were not wrong! The village sits in the Cotswolds and is located 5 miles northwest of the town of Chippenham. The only way I can describe how I felt entering the village was like walking onto a movie set it was picture perfect. I later found out it does indeed get used as a regular film location (Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse to name just one).
There are several lovely places to stay in Castle Combe and I decided to splash the cash at the Manor House Hotel which was simply stunning in every way from the magical sweeping driveway to the Michelin-starred Bybrook restaurant which was truly out of this world. It also has a dedicated gin bar!
I think you know you are at a luxury hotel when you are offered a choice of Hunter or Lechameau wellington boots for a walk in 365 acres of manicured grounds!
Anyway back to the village it is fairy-tale beautiful full of tiny traditional weavers cottages made of yellow Cotswold stone and the cutest front doors which have so much character I could not stop snapping them. And on that note as a keen photographer I found it impossible to take a bad picture in Castle Coombe every angle every turn there is a perfect frame I was in my element.
The village takes around 15 minutes to stroll beginning to end but relax and take your time to soak in the atmosphere and interesting history. The market town prospered during the 15th century when a Norfolk knight Sir John Fastolf was lord of manor. He made this the center of a thriving wool trade supplying his own troops and those of Henry V’s war in France. In the centre of the village is a 14th century market cross erected when the privilege to hold a weekly textile market was granted. Here you will also see St Andrews Church with its faceless clock which is reputed to be the oldest working clock in England.
Strolling along I discovered delights such as the homemade cakes and flowers left outside a locals cottage complete with an honesty box. I then came across the pretty Castle Inn for liquid refreshment and sat by a roaring log fire which was most welcome on a cold day. My feeling as I gazed out of the window onto the village was that I had come across something really special. This place would appeal to everyone from the stressed out city worker needing an escape to the keen rambler as a base to access the surrounding walks.
Finally an insiders tip walk down the main street to the ambling Bybrook river stop at the stone bridge and look back. This is the perfect vantage point to capture the true essence of this magical little village and you will have a beautiful photograph to put in the memory box.