26. Wool churches of the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds was an important centre for the medieval wool trade and some of the churches built during this time and sponsored by successful wool merchants of the Cotswolds, and referred to now as “wool churches”.
The wool churches directly mirror the profitable nature of the medieval wool trade in the elaborate nature of their designs, with many of them more like mini-cathedrals, complete with carvings, stained-glass, and interior funeral monuments.
Indeed, St John the Baptist, Cirencester, is often called the "Cathedral of the Cotswolds" and is one of the largest and most elegant medieval churches in the country.
St James's Church, Chipping Campden, is also a magnificent and beautiful structure and not the only building in Campden that had the mediaeval wool trade to thank for its splendour.
Another famous Cotswold wool church is the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Northleach.
From humble beginnings, the church was built upon and redeveloped by the wool merchants of the 15th Century who helped to create a breathtaking, cathedral-like structure. Many of the wool merchants bequeathed their estates to the church in their wills.
St Mary’s Church, Fairford, built in the 1490s, is another Cotswold wool church and has remained structurally unaltered over the centuries.
St Peter's Church, Winchcombe, has a peculiar charm, due in part to the survival of a profusion of gargoyles, both in human and animal form, which populate the parapets.
St John the Baptist, Burford, has a spectacular interior with fine stained-glass windows and monuments.