Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Cross Keys Cottage is a great base from which to explore the Cotswolds, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and more.

 Stow on the Wold Square, The Cotswolds, England, UK Sheep Street, Stow on the Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold, a major centre for antiques, lies beside the route of the Roman Fosseway. The history of the town dates back 3,500 years, with evidence of a large Stone Age encampment. Much can still be seen of the Roman invasion - relics and coins are a common find in surrounding fields.

More recently Stow came in to prominence during the Civil War, when the last decisive battle in 1645 was fought in the town square. The Royalists were defeated, King Charles I abdicated and our modern British parliamentary system was born.

For 800 years, right up to the beginning of this century, Stow held a market each week, with as many as 20,000 sheep being sold in the Market Square in a single day.

The remnants of this tradition are still very apparent today, there being a profusion of narrow alleys, or "tures", as they were known, said to be originally used for counting sheep as they were driven through in single-file. These alleys criss-cross the centre of the town, and now provide very useful thoroughfares for the present inhabitants.

 Stow on the Wold, Old Stocks, The Cotswolds, England, UK St Edwards Church, Stow on the Wold

Fortunately for today's visitor, many of the 27 inns and ale houses which serviced the needs of this huge market still exist, mostly around the Town Square, providing welcome respite for the weary.

Stow is also the perfect base from which to enjoy the charm and beauty of the Cotswolds - some of the prettiest villages in the country such as Chipping Campden, Broadway, Burford, Bibury, The Slaughters, and Bourton-on-the-Water are all within a few miles. Excursions to the world of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon; the magnificent Medieval Castle in Warwick; the Cathedral City of Gloucester; ancient market town of Cirencester; Bath with its famous Roman Spa; elegant Regency Cheltenham; the treasures of Blenheim Palace at Woodstock; and the dreaming spires of Oxford, are all easy drives away.

There is a wealth of beautiful Stately and Historical Homes, Gardens and Wildlife Parks, Museums and Theatres, and so much more for you to enjoy all the year round.

Cross Keys Cottage, built in 1640, was originally an Ale House where the beer was brewed in the cellar. In 1660 a second cottage was built behind the original dwelling and quite recently two further extensions were added.