The Cotswolds: Throughout the Ages


Another sunny day with blue skies. I am getting a bit blasé about wearing a padded coat. Instead, I wear a thick jumper and put on a scarf and light rain jacket to keep the worst of the chill at bay.

The plan today was to visit a pottery and two National Trust properties, one a 16th century manor house and the other an open space which reveals the foundations of a grand Roman villa built in the 4th century. In detail: Broadway – Snowshill Manor – Winchcombe Pottery – Chedworth Roman Villa. Somehow we managed to fit in some ice cream.

We started the day with a visit to Broadway, which I think is one of the liveliest and loveliest towns in the Cotswolds. There is evidence of settlements here dating from 5,000 years ago. It’s possibly best to start looking first into the past few hundred years, through the displays and exhibitions in the Broadway Museum.


Some of the buildings of Broadway


I wanted to revisit Snowshill Manor as I have been there only once or twice, around 25 years ago. The earliest surviving part of the Manor was built around 1550, during the Tudor period. It was later extended, and you can see the differences in stone and window design in the photo below. A bit more of the manor’s history can be found here.



At the entrance I spotted this letterbox with the motto Nisi Dominus Frustra. This was, in fact, my school motto. It was explained to us that the Latin words meant ‘without God all is in vain’. A more accurate meaning is ‘Except the Lord in vain’, which is a shortened version of Psalm 127 verses 1 and 2: Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.



Nothing quite prepares you for the eclectic and eccentric collection amassed by Charles Paget Wade. As I get older I try to regularly go through the stuff I have owned over the years, keeping just what is useful and needed. Not so Mr Wade, who basically collected anything and everything that had been discarded when it was replaced by something more modern or newly designed. It did not matter that the item was now obsolete or non-functional, the point was that nothing should perish (i.e. be thrown into the junkyard). Then he had the ingenious idea to leave it all to the National Trust, thus entertaining generations to come.


Some of the collected items displayed in different rooms throughout the Snowshill Manor. Nothing is labelled so it’s quite fun to work out what some of the items are and how old they might be, also its country of origin


View of the house from the garden (top) and the entrance to an inner garden (bottom)


When I was at university I often ate in Cranks, the wholefood shop, in Covent Garden. I enjoyed what I ate immensely as it was healthy and nutritious, but the pleasure was also about eating from the plates and bowls the food was served in. I never lost my love for this type of pottery serveware, and have looked out for similar pieces since. I now buy them from David Mellor Design, who carry many items of craft pottery.


Pottery pieces similar to that used in Cranks (top and middle) and pieces with a dark brown glaze (bottom)


It was a slightly longer drive to see the remains of Chedworth Roman Villa, parts of which were unearthed in the 19th century. The distance of course was much, much, greater for the Romans (or it could be another nation under Roman rule at the time) who came to this part of England in the 4th century. Read more about its history and discovery here.


Details from the floor mosaics


Pillars for the underfloor heating system which heated the villa (top) and the remains of the villa’s foundations (bottom)


In the afternoon we made another visit to Alfonso Gelateria (The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold) where the owner Lewis was paddling out different flavours of gelato as fast as he could. He told us that yesterday was the first day of serving gelato in this new location. It seems that we were at the right place at the right time.

From the Specials menu we had Lemon and Hibiscus, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Mascarpone and Profiteroles and Dark Chocolate and Almond. I am already wondering if we can nip in to the shop again before we leave the Cotswolds.



Dinner was at The Ebrington Arms. The food was good but not memorably so, the lighting was a bit harsh and we came home with our clothes smelling of fat. Life outside my own kitchen can be a bit of a hit and miss affair, but it is these little experiences here and there that keep me motivated to cook better meals when I am at home.