Winchcombe - known for its sheep and wool

Winchcombe: A Market Town With A Famous Abbey (2023)

Winchcombe’s Sudeley, royal history preserved, a treasure to see


If you’re looking for a charming village to visit in the Cotswolds, Winchcombe should be at the top of your list. This historic village, in Gloucestershire, is full of character and charm.

With its beautiful stone cottages, black and white half-timbered buildings, and stunning countryside, Winchcombe offers a timeless quality that is sure to capture your heart.

Besides its picturesque setting, Winchcombe is also a hub for walkers. Surrounded by tranquil countryside and some of the area’s best walks, this village is a perfect destination for those who love the outdoors. But Winchcombe isn’t just for nature lovers.

The village also boasts a variety of independent shops, including a wonderful deli, traditional retailers, boutique clothing, interiors, and antique shops.

Whether you’re looking for a unique gift or just want to browse, you’re sure to find something special in Winchcombe.

Historical Overview

This charming village in Gloucestershire, England, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. From Neolithic times to the present day, Winchcombe has been home to kings, monks, and merchants, each leaving their mark on the village’s landscape and culture.

Winchcombe’s story begins in the Neolithic period, when people settled in the hills around the village, leaving behind a stone-lined burial chamber known as Belas Knap. I

n Saxon times, Winchcombe was a royal center favored by the kings of Mercia. Later, in the Middle Ages, it became a pilgrimage center and thriving wool town.

One of the village’s most famous landmarks – and a favorite of mine – is Sudeley Castle, which dates back to the 8th century. The castle was once home to Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, and is now open to the public.

Another notable site is Winchcombe Abbey, which was founded in the 8th century by the King of Mercia. The abbey was rebuilt in the medieval times and dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.

If you’re interested in history, you won’t want to miss Hailes Abbey, a Cistercian abbey that was founded in the 13th century. The abbey was dissolved during the Reformation, but its ruins are still visible today.

St. Peter’s Church

You can also visit St. Peter’s Church, which dates back to the 12th century.

Here you’ll find a treasure trove of historical artifacts and relics, including stone coffins dating back to the 9th century and believed to have held the remains of King Kenulf and his son.

Another fascinating item is the altar cloth that is said to have been embroidered by Katherine of Aragon, one of King Henry VIII’s wives. This intricate piece of fabric is a symbol of the church’s connection to the Tudor monarchy and adds to the church’s cultural significance.

The church also boasts the famous Winchcombe Imp; a mythical creature carved into the Rood Screen and is a popular tourist attraction.

The East window depicts a ship and was installed when the vicar was a former Naval Chaplain who sailed in the Crimean Fleet. This window is a tribute to the church’s connection to the military and adds to the rich history that is present within its walls.

Winchcombe’s history isn’t just about grand buildings and famous people, though. The village has a rich cultural heritage that includes trade in wool, antiques, and more.

The Winchcombe Grammar School was founded in the 15th century and is still in operation today. And in the 17th century, Christopher Merret, a local physician, discovered the method of making sparkling wine, which eventually led to the creation of champagne.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a charming village to explore, Winchcombe has something to offer. From its ancient burial chambers to its medieval abbeys and castles, the village’s rich history is waiting to be discovered.

Outdoor Activities

If you are a fan of outdoor activities, then Winchcombe is the perfect place for you. The village is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors.

The village is part of the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile walking trail that runs from Chipping Campden to Bath. The trail offers stunning views of the countryside and passes through picturesque villages along the way. Winchcombe is also a member of the Walkers are Welcome scheme, which means that the village is committed to providing a warm welcome to walkers and has plenty of facilities for them.

If you prefer shorter walks, then there are several other trails in the area, including the Wardens Way, Windrush Way, and Gloucestershire Way. These trails range in length from a few miles to over 40 miles and offer a variety of terrain, from rolling hills to flat meadows.

In addition to walking, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy including the Cotswold Farm Park and the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. These reserves offer the chance to see a variety of animals, from rare breeds of farm animals to exotic species from around the world.

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Local Amenities

One of the most popular places to visit in Winchcombe is the Corner Cupboard. This charming deli offers a range of delicious foods, including sandwiches, cakes, and pastries. It’s the perfect place to stop for a quick bite to eat before exploring the town.

If you’re interested in history, you’ll want to visit the Town Hall. This beautiful building dates back to the 18th century and is home to a number of important artifacts and documents. It’s a great place to learn more about the history of Winchcombe and the surrounding area.

When it comes to dining options, Winchcombe has plenty to offer. The Lion Inn is a popular choice for locals and visitors alike, offering a range of traditional British dishes. For something a little different, head to the White Hart, which serves up delicious Thai cuisine.

If you’re looking for accommodation, Winchcombe has a range of options to suit all budgets. From cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels, you’re sure to find something that meets your needs.

Finally, don’t forget to explore the River Isbourne. This picturesque river runs through the heart of Winchcombe and offers a range of scenic walks and picnic spots. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a day trip to nearby Bath or Cheltenham, both of which are easily accessible from Winchcombe.

Cultural Attractions

Winchcombe is a village full of cultural attractions that are perfect for history enthusiasts and art lovers. You can start your cultural tour by visiting the Winchcombe Folk and Police Museum, which showcases the history of the village and the Cotswolds.

You will see a range of exhibits, including Victorian police cells, a reconstructed Victorian schoolroom, and a collection of toys and games from the past.

Winchcombe is also known for its antique shops, where you can find unique and interesting items from different eras. You can spend hours browsing through the shops and discovering hidden gems.

If you are visiting Winchcombe in August, you can attend the annual country show, which is a great way to experience the local culture. The show features livestock displays, craft stalls, and traditional games.

Guided walks are a great way to explore the Cotswold countryside surrounding Winchcombe. You can join a guided walk and discover the natural beauty of the area while learning about its history and culture.

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Famous Personalities

Winchcombe has been home to many famous personalities throughout history. Here are a few notable figures associated with the village:

  • Katherine Parr: The sixth wife of King Henry VIII, Katherine Parr, lived in Sudeley Castle, which is located just outside of Winchcombe. She is buried in St Mary’s Church in the village.
  • Lady Jane Grey: Lady Jane Grey, also known as the Nine-Day Queen, was held prisoner in Sudeley Castle after her failed attempt to claim the throne of England. She was eventually executed in the Tower of London.
  • Queen Elizabeth I: Queen Elizabeth I visited Sudeley Castle on several occasions during her reign. She is said to have visited Katherine Parr’s tomb and to have taken a walk in the castle’s gardens.
  • Princess Elizabeth: Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, visited Sudeley Castle in 1981 to attend the wedding of her cousin, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones.

Local Industries

Winchcombe has a rich history of industries that have shaped the town’s identity. From wool production to paper manufacturing, the town has been a hub of activity for centuries.

In the Middle Ages, wool was the most important industry in Winchcombe. The town was known for its high-quality wool, which was exported throughout Europe. The wool trade brought great wealth to the town and allowed for the construction of many of the town’s impressive churches.

Another important industry in Winchcombe was tobacco. The town was home to several tobacco factories, which produced cigarettes and other tobacco products. Although the tobacco industry has declined in recent years, the town’s history as a tobacco producer is still celebrated.

In the 19th century, paper manufacturing became an important industry in Winchcombe. Several paper mills were established in the town, which produced high-quality paper used for books, newspapers, and other printed materials.

Sheep farming has also been an important industry in Winchcombe for centuries with the town’s rolling hills and lush pastures provide ideal grazing conditions for sheep.

Finally, the town is known for its impressive collection of gargoyles. These stone carvings can be found on many of the town’s historic buildings, including its churches and public buildings. The gargoyles are a testament to the town’s rich architectural history and are a popular attraction for visitors.


Getting to and around Winchcombe is a breeze, with various transportation options available. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect.

By Car

If you’re coming from London or Bristol, you can take the M5 motorway and exit at junction 9, then follow the A46 and A435 to reach Winchcombe. The village is also easily accessible from Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, and other nearby towns via the A435.

By Bus

National Express coaches run daily from London Victoria Coach Station to Cheltenham, where you can catch a local bus to Winchcombe. Alternatively, Stagecoach operates a direct bus service from Cheltenham to Winchcombe.

By Taxi

If you prefer a more convenient and personalized mode of transportation, you can hire a taxi or private hire car to take you to and from Winchcombe.

On Foot

Walking is the best way to explore the village and its surroundings and there are plenty of footpaths and trails that offer stunning views of the Cotswold countryside, including the Cotswold Way National Trail and the Winchcombe Way.

By Bicycle

Cycling is another great way to get around, but just be aware that some of the roads and trails can be steep, have blind bends, and hilly.

Overall, transportation in and around the town is easy and convenient, with plenty of options to suit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good pubs to visit in Winchcombe?

Yes, Winchcombe has great pubs to choose from, including The Lion Inn, on North Street, The Plaisterers Arms, and The White Hart Inn; a historic pub dating back to the 16th century.

What are some recommended restaurants in Winchcombe?

Winchcombe has a variety of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. The Lion Inn, besides being a great pub, also serves up delicious food. The Corner Cupboard Inn, on High Street, is a popular spot for traditional British cuisine. For something a little more upscale, try Wesley House. This Michelin-starred restaurant is known for its innovative dishes and attentive service.

What is the history of Winchcombe Abbey?

Winchcombe Abbey was founded in the 8th century by Cenwulf, King of Mercia. The abbey played an important role in the history of the town and was a center of learning and culture. Today, the abbey ruins are a popular tourist attraction and offer a glimpse into the town’s rich history.

What types of accommodation are available in Winchcombe?

Winchcombe has a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. From cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels, there is something for everyone. The White Hart Inn and Wesley House both offer accommodation besides their dining options. The Lion Inn also has several comfortable rooms available for guests.

Is Winchcombe a town or village?

Winchcombe is a small town in the Cotswolds. Despite its size, it has a rich history and a vibrant community. The town is known for its beautiful architecture, charming streets, and friendly locals.

Is Winchcombe a nice place to live?

Winchcombe is a great place to live for those who enjoy a slower pace of life. The town offers a strong sense of community and a variety of local events and activities. The surrounding countryside is also beautiful and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Enchantment Awaits
Enchantment Awaits

The Cotswolds region is home to many charming villages and towns, churches, historic landmarks, outdoor activities, in a beautiful part of England. After visiting the region many times, we created the website dedicated to helping others plan their own trips to the Cotswolds.

Quick guides: Stow-on-the-Wold: A Beautiful Cotswold Market Town, Poole Keynes: A Cotswold Hidden Gem, Todenham: Discover Famous Cotswold Serenity And Charm, Rendcomb: A Village Mentioned In The Doomsday Book, and Weston-sub-Edge: A Village With Historical Buildings.


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