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This is, allegedly, the only place in the world where you can visit a colony of nesting Mute Swans. (Trust me, they are not mute). A Benedictine monastery was established at Abbotsbury in the 11th century and the monks began farming swans - which often featured at medieval banquets. The monks have long gone, but the swans are still there (different ones, obviously). If you visit Abbotsbury Swannery these days, you'll find about 600 swans, all free to roam. The colony is established adjacent to a shallow lagoon, the Fleet, which lies behind Chesil Beach. It's a unique location.
The enormous Neolithic stone henge and bank at Avebury surrounds the entire village of Avebury. Dating from c2600BC, it is part of a wider complex of prehistoric sites nearby that include West Kennet Avenbue and Longbarrow, Silbury Hill and Windmill Hill. Get up close and personal with the stones - which you cannot normally do at nearby Stonehenge.
Barrington Court is a 16th century house that became derelict and was carefully restored in the 1920s by Colonel Lyle, as in Tate & Lyle the sugar refining company. The house is currently shown empty of all furnishings, which is curiously wonderful. The gardens are simply stunning.
“Who can ever be tired of Bath?” Jane Austen enquired. Apart from being a favourite of one of England’s most-loved novelists, Bath is probably most famed for its Roman and Regency heritage. The Romans built extensive baths there and called the town Aquae Sulis (the waters of Sul, a local Celtic deity similar to Minerva). The remains of the complex were discovered in the 18th C, by which time the healing waters of Bath had again become fashionable, with the help of the dandy, Beau Nash, and the town evolved into a go-to Regency place. Thus Bath is also loved for its surviving honey-coloured Georgian architecture, not least its elegant Royal Crescent and unusual Pulteney Bridge over the Avon, designed by Robert Adam and containing shops built across its full span. Among Bath’s many other attractions is the Gothic 15th C Abbey, where a monastery was founded in the 7th century. Bath is a World Heritage Site, one of Britain’s tourist magnets and features heavily on overseas visitors’ itineraries, as well as being a desirable romantic weekend destination.
A brooding, ruined, medieval castle located atop a dramatic wooded cliff and with the remains of an unfinished Jacobean house inside its walls, which was intended to be the grand home of the Seymour family. Berry Pomeroy Castle has a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Britain - either the White or the Blue Lady will get you.
The Cotswold village of Bibury on the River Coln is lovely, has been around since at least Saxon times and was described by William Morris as “The most beautiful village in England”. It is much-visited by tourists, much photographed and particularly known for a row of cottages called Arlington Row – which has featured in movies. Arlington Row was built as a wool store by monks in the 14th century and was converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. One, No 9, is owned by the National Trust and is available for holiday bookings. An area of marshy water meadow close to Arlington Row was known as ‘Rack Isle’ and was where wool was hung on racks after being washed. These days, it’s a nature reserve.
Part-ruined home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years, the palace dates from 13th century and is surrounded by a moat, upon which swans glide gracefully; they are trained to ring a bell when they're hungry. Croquet is played on the lawn. The highlight, though, is the gardens. These are a delight to wander in and include the well pools that give the city its name.
Picturesque ancient Boscastle perches on the side of a small valley in north Cornwall. It is possibly best known for its long narrow harbour, a natural inlet at the mouth of the River Valency, protected by two stone harbour walls built in 1584 by Sir Richard Grenville. It is packed with history, from the remains of the castle that gives it its name – Boterelescastel (1302), to its old fishermen’s cottages. It has an industrial past, but is now a destination for tourists who come for its potteries, art galleries, the Museum of Witchcraft, views – and walking; the South West Coastal Path runs through Boscastle. It has associations with Thomas Hardy, who met his first wife, Emma Gifford, while working as an architect on the nearby church of St Juliot. Boscastle is ‘Castle Boterel’ in his 1873 novel, ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’. Beneath Penally Point is a blow-hole known as the Devil's Bellows, which sometimes blows a horizontal spout of water halfway across the harbour entrance.
Severe flash floods in 2004, and to a lesser extent in 2007, turned roads into gushing torrents and caused considerable damage.
Most of the land is owned by the National Trust.
Bourton-on-the-Water, known as ‘the Venice of the Cotswolds’ is a large village with an extremely attractive and much-photographed centre. The shallow River Windrush flows alongside the High Street, which is flanked by attractive buildings constructed from honey-coloured Cotswold limestone. Across the river are five picturesque bridges, dating from 1654 to 1911. Children paddle in the river among the ducks, all around are tempting shops, cafes and restaurants. A football match takes place every year in the river, on August Bank Holiday. The village is also famous for its model village and motor museum.
This is a growing listings directory – over 950 entries have been listed as of September 2022.
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