The Who to see, Where to go and What to do in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is in middle England somewhere! And it doesn’t help that it’s not really clear where the Cotswolds is.
Is it the area between Chipping Campden in the north and Lechlade in the south that is governed by Cotswold District Council?
Or is it the whole of Gloucestershire that incorporates Tewkesbury and the Forest of Dean?
Or is it that picturesque region previously called an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but now is confusingly called the Cotswold National Landscape?
What do people think of when they think of the Cotswolds?
Pretty, quintessential chocolate box villages with thatched, stone cottages, village greens surrounded by stunning scenery?
Or touristy towns congested with traffic jams and nowhere to park?
Or sleepy hamlets in bucolic countryside with nothing to do and nowhere to go?
The Cotswolds is a mixture of all that! But up until now the region has been poorly served with where-to-go and what-to-see websites to get behind the real Cotswolds.
St Mary's Church, Fairford
Photo by Chris Roberts MBE
With the influx of royals, celebrities, multi-million pound gated second homes estates, fine-dining restaurants, cosy country gastro pubs and up-market leisure spas, the Cotswolds has become the go-to destination. The list of royals and celebrities goes on and on and reads like a veritable Cotswolds Who’s Who. I have lost count of the famous faces I have seen, spoken to, sat next to or been introduced to. Ever the consummate name-dropper, I am happy to share some of my experiences in these blogs.
The Highgrove Shop
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Which members of the Royal family live in the Cotswolds?
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall have their country home at Highgrove, near Tetbury. There is even a Highgrove shop in Tetbury where you can buy produce made on the Duchy of Cornwall estate. Just down the road near Minchinhampton, Princess Anne has her country residence at Gatcombe Park, which is regularly opened up to the public for equestrian events and concerts. I once saw Katherine Jenkins perform live there. Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara Phillips, lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, Mike Tindall, who once played rugby for Bath and Gloucester. It really is not at all unusual to see these royal personalities strolling round the area. I’ve met Prince Charles a few times in Fairford when he’s been to visit the world famous St Mary’s Church and, once, I literally bumped into Princess Anne when I was hurrying out of a bank in Cirencester and she was walking along outside with her Lady-in-Waiting and Detective!
The locals living in the Cotswolds are used to seeing royal and celebrity faces and take it all in their stride. It really is a common occurrence and locals are not overawed by the celebrity hype. Why else would the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger, Gary Barlow and Jamie Dornan and Daniel Craig have homes in this rural retreat just under two hours from London?
On one occasion, my daughter was sat at the next table to Gary Barlow (Take That) having dinner in the Five Alls, Filkins. He sat with his back to the room, but no one really took much notice, as he is a regular customer in this village gastro pub, so he was able to enjoy a quiet family dinner with his wife and children.
And whilst on the subject of Take That – what about the time when I was in the sauna at my local spa and in walked Mark Owen! Just him and me in the sauna in our swimwear! I thought “I’ll bet thousands of women would kill for this opportunity!”
Interior designer guru, Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen is very conspicuous in the Cotswolds, living near Cirencester, he attends local fêtes and opens his lovely gardens for charity and is often seen shopping in Tesco.
Having lived in the Cotswolds for 40 years and been involved with and written about many local events, I have a pretty good idea about what is going on, where to go and who you might see there. Bookmark this website www.chrisrobertsmbe.com to come back to find out more. Updated regularly.