H.Y. Hanna
H.Y. Hanna
H.Y. Hanna
H.Y. Hanna

Slaughter in the Cotswolds

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be a post about gory death and mass murder in the English countryside, πŸ˜‰ but rather about my research trips to two of the quaintest – and most quirkily-named – villages in the Cotswolds region.

Following your enthusiastic response to my recent Scotland research trip posts and the many messages I’ve had from readers asking for more “travel stories & photos” on the blog, I’ve decided to share more of my travel and research for my books… starting with the place that most of my stories are set!

The Cotswolds is an iconic area in the central-south west of Britain which is renowned for its natural beauty and quaint charms. This is “chocolate box England” at its finest: all gentle rolling hills and picturesque villages filled with thatched-roof cottages and historic pubs, cobbled streets and medieval church towers.

The Little Stables Tearoom from my Oxford Tearoom Mysteries sits in the fictional village of Meadowford-on-Smyth, on the outskirts of Oxford, right at the eastern edge of the Cotswolds region.

Most of the Cotswolds lies within the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and it is bounded by famous cities such as Oxford to the east, Bath to the south and Cheltenham to the west. But of course, what it’s really known for – and what gives it its unique character – are its gorgeously quaint villages and market towns. If you’re visiting England as a tourist, no trip would be complete without setting aside some time to wander through the Cotswolds’ iconic landmarks.

(In fact, I would say even if you’re a British resident, you should make the time to visit this beautiful part of the country. It’s something I really regret not doing when I was still living in the UK. Like many, I ignored what was on my doorstep until I’d moved to the other side of the globe and it was too late! Now, I think wistfully of all the inspiration I could have gleaned if only I’d visited the Cotswolds more often when I was still living in Oxford…)

 

For one of my research trips – taken back in autumn 2019 – I decided to base myself in the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, as it’s easily accessible by train from London’s Paddington Station and it’s fairly central to several of the most “famous” towns and villages in the Cotswolds region.

Moreton-in-Marsh is a lovely market town in its own right, with streets lined with honey-coloured stone buildings and several quaint shops and tearooms. There are also some interesting attractions nearby, such as the Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre – perfect if you’re a tree lover! – and the Cotswold Falconry Centre. (Sadly, I didn’t have the time to visit either of those places, even though I really wanted to! Sigh… next time…!)

But if you’re really pressed for time during your visit to the Cotswolds, then Moreton-in-Marsh would probably get left off the intinerary, since it is perhaps slightly less picturesque than some of the other villages and towns in the region, and there’s a main road running through the centre of town which can get busy with heavy traffic.

It does have a gorgeous hotel, though – the Manor House Hotel – which is housed in a 16th century historic building that used to be a coaching inn, until it was turned into a hotel with the arrival of the railway. It’s got lovely period-style rooms (yes, four poster beds in some!) and a cosy reception area complete with log fire, comfy seating … and quite low ceilings! I do love old buildings like this, though – all creaky and crooked and full of character – and the historic features don’t detract from the comfort levels at all.

The train arrived late afternoon that first day and I couldn’t do much, as it was getting dark quite early by then – but I was up bright and early the next morning to tuck into a hearty breakfast in the hotel’s beautiful conservatory-style restaurant. Nothing like a “full English” to start your day! πŸ˜‰

Most tourists pour into the more “famous” towns of Burford and Bourton-on-the-Water when they visit the Cotswolds and while I did visit those places, I found that two of my favourite destinations were the twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, where you really got a feel of what it was like to live in a quiet little village in the Cotswolds.

In case you’re wondering, the seemingly macabre names of the villages come from the old English word “slohtre”, which actually has nothing to do with death or killing, but rather means, “muddy place”. And in fact, the villages really are as ancient as their names, for they have remained pretty much unchanged for well over a century. Apparently, there’s been no building work there since 1906.

Lower Slaughter (the larger of the two) is – in my opinion – the prettiest village in the region. 😊 It is like a storybook Cotswold village, full of quaint, historic charm.

It is built over and around water – with many of the cottages along the banks of the Slaughter Brook (aka the River Eye) – and I feel that it’s so much nicer than the more famous Bourton-on-the-Water as it doesn’t have any of the touristy feel or rowdy commercial presence. It is simply beautiful and peaceful and absolutely idyllic.

Unlike Bourton-on-the-Water, there aren’t really any specific “tourist attractions” in Lower Slaughter – the village itself is the real attraction and I was happy just strolling along the side of the brook, crossing the many tiny bridges and oggling the gorgeous cottages that lined the banks. (You don’t want to know how many photos I took!!!)

The first time I visited Lower Slaughter, it was in autumn and that was stunning enough with all the autumnal colours: the beautiful orange and gold foliage and the vivid red berries…

… then I returned for a second visit in 2022 – in the summer, this time – and OMG, it was even more beautiful, if possible!

I have to say, I do feel a bit sorry for the people living in those cottages as they must get thoroughly sick of strangers traipsing past all year, staring and pointing and taking pictures of their gardens & houses.

Imagine sitting down for a quiet cup of tea in your living room and having random people standing outside your window with giant camera lenses pointed in your direction! I suppose it would be one big drawback of living in such a postcard-perfect place.

Some of the residents do seem to have a good sense of humour about things – I love this sign I saw on one of the cottage doors!

As you follow the cottages around the bend of the brook, you come to the restored 19th century flour mill, which is the main “tourist attraction” in Lower Slaughter. It really stands out as its chimney is made of red brick, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the village which is built of the mellow, honey-coloured Cotswold stone.

The Old Mill is no longer used commercially but it does still have a giant working waterwheel, as well as the most delightful little museum and shop full of quirky knick-knacks. I think I could have mooched in there for hours!

I LOVED this witty tile ornament – really regretted not buying it for my garden back home!

I also discovered that the mill has a little cafΓ© and ice cream parlour at the back, with views overlooking the brook. Unfortunately, it was just about to close the first time I visited, so I didn’t get to sample their menu, but I did get to check out their quirky outdoor toilets…

Ladies, don’t you just love the sign? – Haha!

I think this was the quaintest outdoor toilet I have ever seen! With a painting and flower arrangement and luxury magazines, on a vintage wooden table, no less… and a decorated wooden toilet seat too.

I did return to the mill when I visited Lower Slaughter again in 2022, in the hopes of checking out the cafe this time, but unfortunately, the museum & shop were completely closed! I didn’t realise that it doesn’t open on Mondays and Tuesdays…

** NOTE: (Apr 2023) Sadly, as I was writing this post, I checked its website and it looks like the Old Mill Museum & Shop might be closing permanently now. Maybe it was a victim of the pandemic… what a shame! It was such a lovely place to visit! ☹️

As I continued on around the village, I came to St Mary’s Church sitting serenely in its manicured graveyard. This church was actually the inspiration for the scenes in my book Fronds and Enemies (English Cottage Garden Mysteries ~ Book 5) where Einstein the terrier discovers a body under a yew tree growing by a corner of the church and then Oren the naughty ginger tom secretly observes a murder being committed… before helping gardening sleuth Poppy solve the mystery by a spot of judicious bra-stealing πŸ˜‰ (read the book if you’re wondering what on earth that means – haha!)

I loved seeing how the same view changed from autumn to summer – you’d never believe that maple tree could turn such a vivid colour, would you? Overall, I think I preferred visiting in autumn as the foliage colours were just spectacular but I have to say, the flowers in summer were amazing too… especially the hollyhocks! After roses, hollyhocks are one of my favourite flowers (it’s why Poppy’s nursery is called “Hollyhock Cottage” in my English Cottage Garden Mysteries. πŸ˜‰ )

Here I am in Western Australia carefully nurturing and fussing over my precious hollyhocks, with extra compost and mulch and seaweed tonic… and there in the Cotswolds, they’re growing out of cracks in the pavement, like giant weeds, in an endless rainbow of colours!! So unfair!

There are some great walks around Lower Slaughter; the “Great Cotswold Ramble“, in particular, is especially popular. It covers the two villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter (about 1.6km / 1 mile each way) and you can also add on an extension to Bourton-on-the-Water (another 4km / 2.5 miles) to make it a 4 hour hike.

I’m a keen walker and I really wanted to try the route leading from Lower Slaughter to Upper Slaughter but the path seemed particularly empty and lonely that autumn day when I was there and I was a bit unsure…Β  I’m sure it’s perfectly safe and I was probably just being paranoid (this is what happens when you have a mystery writer’s imagination! πŸ˜‰) but I sometimes think a woman alone can’t be too careful!

So I abandoned the idea and headed to Upper Slaughter by car instead. Now, that is a tiny village – a little more than a hamlet really – which is perched on a hill above the same River Eye that runs through Lower Slaughter.

There are 2 ways to approach Upper Slaughter but by far the more scenic option is via the bottom of the hill, where you have to ford the River Eye in order to enter the village. Well, cars and horses have to ford the stream – if you go on foot, there is a handy bridge you can use to keep your feet dry πŸ˜‰.

(And unless you’re in a four-wheel drive or similar vehicle, I would probably avoid trying to cross the ford with your car in autumn/ winter when the water levels can be really high!)

It’s a really beautiful spot and worth visiting just to experience the ambience and snap a photo there, even if you intend to then drive around and enter the village by the more orthodox route.

But the best thing would be if you could do what I did and be dropped off at the ford (there is no public parking nearby) so that you can walk up the hill on foot, while the car goes around to pick you up in the village. It’s a great way to arrive in Upper Slaughter and a lovely experience! In summer, with climbing roses billowing from the dry stone walls, it’s a really gorgeous spot.

It doesn’t look like it from the bottom but it is a fairly steep uphill walk, so it might be a bit of a challenge if you’re frail or not very fit – especially in the heat of summer!

In fact, when I arrived, puffing and panting, at the top of the hill, I found that I obviously wasn’t the first person to have that thought, since a traditional phone box had been thoughtfully modified for medical emergencies!

Upper Slaughter has even fewer official “attractions” than Lower Slaughter – it’s really a residential hamlet – (in fact, the village is so tiny, there isn’t even a shop or pub or anything, so make sure you don’t need the toilet when you’re visiting!) – but their lovely medieval parish church is open to the public. I really enjoyed peeking into St Peter’s church, with its Norman tower arch, and simple but beautiful interiors…

… but my favourite part was actually the unusual approach to the church, with a path that was cut between 2 high banks of gravestones on either side and guarded by ancient yew trees carefully trimmed into topiary shapes. It made for an interesting photo!

(In fact, I’m sure I’ve seen this exact same view in a British TV crime show somewhere… maybe an episode of Midsomer Murders? – I just can’t remember where!)

After the church, I spent a blissful 10 minutes just wandering around the village. There really isn’t anything specific to look at and yet just strolling around, admiring the houses and gardens, was more than enough to keep me happily occupied.

In fact, I came across the village post box, embedded in a garden wall, and the small print on the sign got my imagination buzzing… ooh… so there is a second, later collection on a weekday, something a murderer might not realise and which might leave an inadvertent trail of clues…hmmm…

Well, I hope you enjoyed coming along to explore the Slaughters with me! If you can spare the time, I really do think it’s worth adding them to your itinerary if you’re visiting the Cotswolds – it’ll give you a chance to get away from the tourist hordes and experience some of the genuine unspoiled character and charm of a traditional Cotswold village.

The one thing that is unfortunately lacking in either villages is a traditional tearoom! Luckily, there’s a wealth of those back in Moreton-in-Marsh and on my first visit back in autumn 2019, I finished the day in a lovely tearoom back near my hotel, called the Cotswold Tearoom (now renamed as Rixy’s Cotswold Tearoom.)

It’s a lovely little place and I thought the owner was very kind to serve me, even though she was obviously minutes from closing for the day. It’s very cosy inside, with the decor a nice mix of traditional and modern…

… and I was delighted to find that there was even a table by the window which looked as if it was just waiting for four nosy Old Biddies to take their seats! πŸ˜‰

I ordered a slice of teacake accompanied by a pot of Earl Grey tea…

… and it really was the perfect way to end a lovely day!

What do you think? Would you like to visit the two Slaughters? Or have you been already? Leave a comment and tell me!

I’ve got lots more photos and stories from my research trips around the Cotswolds – I also visited the quaint village of Burford, the famous market town of Stow-in-the-Wold and the popular Bourton-on-the-Water, known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” – and sampled the scones at a variety of tearooms… so do let me know in the comments if you’re enjoying these posts and would like to see more! 😊

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
81 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Faith Creech
Faith Creech
1 month ago

Your pictures are so beautiful. My hubby and I have been to Lower Slaughter and loved it. The Cotswolds are so very lovely and one of our favorite places in England. I love that your Tearoom Mysteries take place there!

Susan Mest
Susan Mest
1 month ago

I’ve been to Broadway in the Cotswolds, way back in the 1970s. I remember how beautiful the area is. Loved reliving the trip with your photos and descriptions.

Sheila
Sheila
1 month ago

Have actually been fortunate enough to visit all of the towns and villages you mention and loved them all 😁 And especially when we returned to Bourton-on-the-Water in early December to see the Christmas tree looking amazing in the water 🀩

Alice Peterson
Alice Peterson
1 month ago

I love the Cottage Garden series and I also have been to the Cotswolds and enjoy books that are set there.

Christine LB
Christine LB
1 month ago

What a truly delightful post! I enjoy the pictures and all your comments and information about the Slaughter villages and their surrounding area. My husband and I are very fond of quaint villages, though we usually visit those close to where we live: the Southwest of France, at the feet of the Pyrénées mountain range which marks a natural border between France and Spain. Medieval villages abound on both sides of the border, with stunning natural wonders all around. I am French and my husband is Spanish, but we do have close relatives living in England, and a daughter living in Canberra since last year when she married an Australian of Chinese origins! 😁🌍🌏

Michelle R
Michelle R
1 month ago

The photos are amazing! They grow so incredibly tall flowers!

Laura B
Laura B
1 month ago

thanks for posting about your blog in your newsletter as I am one who didn’t know it existed. I loved your pictures/tour. I have been following The Cotswold Explorer on Youtube and I loved the warm Cotswold stone buildings and town histories but your photos of the inside of the shops bring the places to life for me. I loved the tile in the Mill shop and the teacup lights in the bay window in the tea room. I will never get to visit so I appreciate the detail you have gone into. I also enjoyed the little bit of behind the scenes tidbits like where you got the name for the Hollyhock Cottage.
take care
Laura from Maine, USA

Sandra
Sandra
1 month ago

I absolutely loved your post! My husband and I would love to “cross the pond” and explore the UK. I was daydreaming as I was reading and looking at your pictures. Thank you so much for sharing!

Carol
Carol
1 month ago

Such a fun tour of this beautiful area in The Cotswolds. I have been to that area several times and stayed in some very nice B&Bs. It has been some time since I was there, thanks for the memories! Your photos are lovely and tell the story of your visit perfectly.

Georgia B
Georgia B
1 month ago

What a wonderful picture tour; I didn’t want it to end. I really loved the pics that showed the same place in different seasons. Lovely! Thanks for the mini adventure!

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

My friend and I had scheduled a trip to England for the Cotswolds, Glastonbury, and London for 2020 but unfortunately Covid hit and we had to cancel. We are planning on going in 2024. Hopefully nothing gets in the way this time. Loved your pictures which just makes me want to go all the more. Fingers Crossed

Crystalballscryer
Crystalballscryer
1 month ago

It is so fun that the name, “Slaughter,” really has two meanings for us here, since you write such delightful murder mysteries! Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and blog with us. Happy future story writing!

Mai
Mai
1 month ago

This is beautiful! I’ve only ever heard about Cotswolds in Cozy Mysteries. I don’t know why I haven’t looked at pics.

Michele Cortez
Michele Cortez
1 month ago

I love your photos of the architecture, colors of the seasons, and comparing the seasons with the same photo/scene.
Thank you for sharing!

Katie S
Katie S
1 month ago

That little tile is so funny! I would’ve wanted to get it too. You’re right about the view being familiar. I’d say either Midsomer Murders or perhaps Father Brown. I can just picture Father Brown walking through that cemetery by the church too. Such a beautiful place! Upper and Lower Slaughter sound so familiar, like I’ve seen them in a murder mystery show. Again, maybe one of the two I just mentioned? The episode was about a rivalry going on between the two towns and how one was a beautiful place and the other was slowly dying from poverty. And of course someone dies and more than one mystery is solved by the end. I don’t know if you’d recognize the episode from such a vague description. I’ll have to ask my husband. He watches all of that stuff with me.

Carol K
Carol K
1 month ago

Thanks so much for all the photos. I’ve never seen anything like this. It doesn’t even look real. I’m not much of a traveler anymore so I have to make do with other people’s trips.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Thank you for taking me with you as you explored the Cotswolds. At least it felt like I was with you. Your non-fiction writing is as good as your fiction writing.

Denise
Denise
1 month ago

I’ve read about the Cotswolds in so many books and was intrigued by them. Your photos have made me definitely put them on my Bucket List. Someday I will get to England. 😍

Lauren Baker
Lauren Baker
1 month ago

Yes, more please!

Alexis
Alexis
1 month ago

I love hearing all about the Cotswold villages. I’m especially interested in the tea rooms and little shops. I can absolutely picture the buddies sitting at that beautiful table by the window! Please share more of your tea room and cute shop discoveries with us!

Alicia
Alicia
1 month ago

What a beautiful place! One to visit for sure.

Erika
Erika
1 month ago

Wow, so beautiful and I’d visit the lower slaughter too because it seems ideal with not so many tourists. Thank you for such beautiful pictures and now my mind will definitely see these kind of images when I read your lovely books.

Mary Preston
Mary Preston
1 month ago

I am loving all of the pictures. My mother has cousins in England and they have not seen much of their own country.

Carroll
Carroll
1 month ago

Oh my all the places you have been look so beautiful. I would love to go visit someday!!! Hopefully I can. The tea room was so cute also! Thank you for sharing all the lovely photos. β˜•οΈ!!!! Love your booksπŸ˜€.

Melody K
Melody K
1 month ago

Thank you for the lovely picture tour of the Cotswolds! It will definitely help me to imagine the scenes from your novels. A friend of mine and I did a TWA tour way back in the 1980’s and were fortunate enough to get a little taste of England, Scotland, and lunch over the border in Wales. I’d love to go back. Meanwhile, I’ll visit through your writing. Thanks for sharing your gift!

Emme
Emme
1 month ago

Oh, more travel posts for sure! Armchair (well, wheelchair) traveler here, so I enjoy vicariously traveling the world. Your photos are great accompaniments to your vivid descriptions. Thank you!

Trudy K.
Trudy K.
1 month ago

Your photos are so lovely to look at. I can enjoy all of your various sites now that I have had to limit my own traveling. I can “visit” them with my eyes through your camera postings. Thank you.

bn100
bn100
1 month ago

funny signs they have

Paula
Paula
1 month ago

Oh I absolutely loved this post and felt like I was there too. I would love to visit later in the year. Please do include more of your travel and photos. Also please consider a little miniseries on how to grow an english cottage garden in australia!

CM fr Japan
CM fr Japan
1 month ago

Very well written travelogue with so interesting snippets that brought the place to life. I especially like the sign on the door & outdoor toilets (Women are always right!!) Hahaha
Been to UK about 10 times & have covered quite a bit of Britain & Scotland but unfortunately, neither Wales nor Ireland. Now with post-Covid & borders open everywhere, perhaps good time to go.

Debra
Debra
1 month ago

Wow, it is amazing. I have been to Bath but not the surrounding area. I am adding it to my list

Lori Jo
Lori Jo
1 month ago

Thank you for the thorough travelogue! I was born near London in 1960 when my dad was in the USAF but I have no recollection, so my husband and I will be visiting the UK for the first time from the US in 2024 and will include this in our plan. We will be discreet about picture taking of personal homes, but one good thing about being a traipsing tourist is the $$$ we leave there for the lovely businesses and taxes to help support the beautiful villages!🀣🀣 Love your books, thank you for your talent 😘

Gigi
Gigi
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing your visit to the Cotswolds. Your photos and descriptions make me feel like I have taken my dream vacation. I especially love the tea room. Do you ever take pictures of the menus on your trips?

hColleen
hColleen
1 month ago

So pretty! I love the quirky signage so much. And everything growing! That’s what struck me when I visited in 2003 (I’m from the desert southwest in the United States, so plant life is less ubiquitous). I also very much enjoy the Chocolate books πŸ˜€ And this helps me picture them a bit better. I’d love all the tea shops around me and living in a place that was so very nicely walkable and had such pretty colors.

Maureen
Maureen
1 month ago

Lovely photos! The Cotswolds are absolutely on my ever-expanding “must travel to…” list.

Katja
Katja
1 month ago

Such beautiful photos of such a gorgeous part of the world. It looks just like I imagine Meadowford on Smythe would look. I half expected to see the 4 biddies in one of your photos!! Lol.
Thank you for sharing. I’ve never been there, but would love to visit one day.
The Hollyhocks are stunning, I’m not sure I’d get them to grow here in FNQ.

WOWMOM
WOWMOM
1 month ago

I love this post. What a perfect place for the crime. Slaughter Tea House Crime. 🀣

Ange
Ange
1 month ago

LOVE the Cotswolds – been a few times, it’s so magical and English.

Deborah Ortega
Deborah Ortega
1 month ago

Love the pictures and the story so fun. Thank you

Donna
Donna
1 month ago

I loved my visit to the Cotswolds. Thank you for taking us on your trip and the beautiful photos!!

KFJ
KFJ
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing this! My family of 3 just applied for our passports, and if we make it to England, visiting this region has my top vote! Some of these photos definitely have elements of what my daughter and I have pictured when reading the Oxford Tea Room and Bewitched by Chocolate series.

Mary Beth
Mary Beth
1 month ago

The Cotswolds area is lovely! Thank you for the tour and I look forward to your next blog.

Sharon
Sharon
1 month ago

Your photos are beautiful!
I live in Stratford, Ontario, Canada & this small city is named after England’s Stratford on the Avon. Maybe you could write a mystery about there in one if your series? My favourite series is Bewitched By Chocolate!

Gayle
Gayle
15 days ago

I’m fortunate to live in a village in Oxfordshire close to blenheim Palace – I do go about to long compton and the Rollright stones a particular favourite of mine . I do have a recommendation for a cafe in Great Tew when you’re back this way the Quince and clover great food and picturesque setting
Love your books !! I’m an avid audio book listener as always in car and find they while a journey away!

Cindy
Cindy
15 days ago

Hello, from Idaho, United States. I am soo jealous!! 😊. So many gorgeous pics! You are very lucky to have been able to visit such a lovely area. I love the β€œOh not you again” sign! πŸ˜„. I live in a touristy part of Idaho and we get maaany photo happy picture takers too. 😌. Thank you for giving your readers such a vivid and lively world into which to escape the mundane.

Where to Buy

  • Buy on AppleBooks
  • Buy on Amazon
  • Buy on Barnes & Noble
  • Buy from Google Play
  • Buy from Kobo
  • Buy from Audible

My paperbacks are also available from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Walmart, and Amazon in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany.Β 

My audiobooks are also available from Apple Books.

Also, find great new books to read and authors to love at: