The Cotswolds - An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty | Guide to Cotswold accommodation, attractions, news and events

Stow on the Wold


Image of Stow on the Wold © Commatic Ltd.


Stow-on-the-Wold, or Stow, is one of the most visited Cotswold places and is home to Scotts Of Stow.

Stow on the Wold stands exposed on a 700 feet high hill on the ancient Roman Fosse Way that leads to the Midlands.

Like many of its Cotswolds neighbours, Stow was at the centre of the Cotswolds wool trade.

Stow-on-the-Wold History

Stow on the Wold is said to have originated as an Iron Age fort on this defensive postion on a hill. Indeed, there are many sites of similar forts in the area, and Stone Age and Bronze Age burial mounds are common throughout the area. The town began to grow as a result of trade along the Fosse Way (a Roman Road). Originally the small settlement was controlled by Abbots from the local Abbey, and when the first weekly market was set up in 1107 by Henry I, he decreed that the proceeds go to the Evesham Abbey. In 1330, Edward III set up an annual 7-day market to be held in August. This was replaced by Edward IV in 1476 with two 5-day fairs, two days before and two days after the feast of St Philip and St James in May, and similarly in October on the feast of St Edward the Confessor (the saint associated with the town). The aim of these annual fairs was to establish Stow as a place to trade, and to remedy the unpredictable passing trade. These fairs were located in the Square, which is still the town centre.

As the fairs grew in fame and importance, the town grew more prosperous, and the fairs became bigger. Traders who once only dealt in livestock, now dealt in many handmade goods, and the wool trade always stayed a large part of the trade. Reportedly, 20,000 sheep changed hands at one 19th century fair. Many alleyways run between the buildings of Stow into the market Square; these once were used in the herding of sheep into the Square to be sold.

Nowadays, however, the Fair has changed considerably. As the wool trade declined, people began to trade in horses, and these would be sold at every Fair. This practice still continues today, although the Fair has been relocated from the Square, and is currently held in the large field towards the village of Maugersbury every May and October. It is still a very popular Fair, with the roads around Stow being blocked for many hours on the day as people visit for the day. Even in the rain, the Fair continues to draw visitors, and the field is frequently filled with traders and customers.

More recently, there has been controversy surrounding Stow Fair. The large number of visitors and traders has attracted more vendors not dealing in horses, and often they bring with them an increase in vandalism, and sometimes in the crime rate. In the past, local businesses used to profit from the increased custom. Nowadays, most pubs and shops close for 2 or 3 miles around. In the run-up to the most recent Fair, there was an enormous amount of public attention, and a debate and vote were held to decide what should be done. There are people in Stow who would like it abolished; others want it to stay unchanged; the majority, it seemed, said they would like more policing and more street cleaners, and the last Fair passed fairly well. However, the future of the Fair still remains uncertain.

Stow's chief claim to history is its role in the English Civil War. A number of fights took place around the area, the local church of St. Edward being damaged in one such skirmish. On 21 March 1646, the Royalists, commanded by Sir Jacob Astley, were defeated at Stow, with hundreds of prisoners being confined for some time in St. Edwards.

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Stow on the Wold Hotels

Stow Lodge Hotel
Stow Lodge Hotel is situated in its own picturesque grounds overlooking the market square of the historic town of Stow-on-the-Wold. The hotel has been owned and run by the same family for over fifty years and has built up a fine reputation for its friendly hospitality and excellent service.

The Restaurant offers traditional English cuisine complemented by an interesting wine list and lighter snacks are offered in the bar. With open log fire in the lounge, beautiful gardens and comfortable bedrooms this three star hotel offers a relaxing and memorable stay in the Cotswolds.

Tel : 01451 830485

Wyck Hill House Hotel and Spa
Wyck Hill House is a wonderful 32 bedroom mansion house just outside Stow-on-the-Wold and set within 50 acres of grounds. The hotel is equidistant for Bristol and Birmingham, 1½ hours out of London.

Telephone: +44 (0)1451 831936

The Old Stocks Hotel & Restaurant
The Old Stocks Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold offers bed and breakfast accommodation in the centre of the town and makes an idea base for touring the Cotswolds.

The Old Stocks has a full service restaurant and bar, extensive patio garden and a lounge facing out to The Square.

All of the rooms at The Old Stocks Hotel are en-suite, have central heating, a colour television, direct dial telephone and tea/coffee making facilities. The Hotel has on-site laundry facilities, private car park, plus ample additional overnight parking in The Square at the front of the Hotel.
Telephone: +44 (0)1451830666

Stow-on-the-Wold Self Catering Accommodation

Honey Cottage is a charming, period self-catering holiday cottage in the Cotswolds, available for both long and short breaks. The holiday cottage is situated in the centre of the historic Cotswolds market town of Stow-on-the-Wold, only a minute's walk from the market square with its restaurants, gastro-pubs, delicatessens, art galleries and shops. Surrounding Stow are the beautiful rolling hills and countryside of the Cotswolds just waiting to be explored.
For more information please Sarah on 01474 812609

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Page last updated 09/07/2015 20:57:21

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