Stow-on-the-Wold ... a potted guide
Places worth visiting...
Longborough Festival Opera
The Porch House
"Stow-on-the-Wold where the wind blows cold" goes the old rhyme, and Stow is indeed the highest town in the Cotswolds. The town is situated on top of an 800ft hill at the convergence of a number of major roads through the Cotswolds, including the A429 Fosse Way.
Stow has been an important market town since at least 1107 when it received its first Royal Grant. By the 15th Century there were two annual fairs and the sale of 20,000 sheep was reported in the 18th Century. 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 Stow Fair has been relocated from the Square, and in recent times has been held in the large field towards the village of Maugersbury every May and October.
While still very popular with the travelling community and some visitors, the fair has proved increasingly divisive and problematic and uncertainty remains over its future. The shape of Stow's Market Square - which in the past hosted some extremely large street fairs - is dictated by the need to protect stallholders from the wind.
The tower of Stow's Anglican parish church of St Edward is 88ft high and houses the highest peal of bells in Gloucestershire. Stow's famous stocks date back to the 15th Century, although they have been replaced a number of times.
Stow was the site of one of the final major battles of the first English Civil War in 1646. A Royalist march on Oxford with 3,000 men was thwarted by Oliver Cromwell and 1,000 men were imprisoned in the church.
Today, Stow's charming retail mix includes antique and boutique shops, with a varied selection of lovely places to eat and drink.
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