Northleach – Things to see and do

A working Cotswold market town with a lovely market square, Northleach was one of the most essential Cotswold wool towns in the Middle Ages. 

The parish church of St Peter & St Paul is a prime example of a Cotswold “wool church”. Its south porch is said to be without equal in England, and the pinnacled tower combines elegance and strength. The church, described as “the Cathedral of the Cotswolds”, has an extensive collection of brasses commemorating the wool merchants whose wealth made the church possible.

Elsewhere in Northleach, there are other examples of civic pride and benefaction, such as two sets of almshouses, one exclusively for women.

Another significant building is the Old Prison, built in the 1790s and situated on the edge of Northleach off the A429 Fosse Way. Visitors can still see one of the original cell blocks and courtroom in this fascinating building, which is now home to the Cotswolds Conservation Board, the Escape to the Cotswolds Visitor Centre and the Rural Life Collection.

Historical Attractions

  • Church of St. Peter and St. Paul: This stunning “Cathedral of the Cotswolds” features impressive Perpendicular Gothic architecture, beautiful stained glass windows, and intricate stonework. The church dates back to the 15th century and is a must-visit.
  • Old Prison: A historic building that once served as a prison and police station, now transformed into a visitor centre and café. It exhibits local history and serves as a hub for exploring the Cotswolds.

Cultural Highlights

  • Mechanical Music Museum: Discover a fascinating collection of self-playing musical instruments and music boxes. The museum offers guided tours that provide insights into the history and mechanics of these unique items.
  • Northleach Town Market: Held regularly in the Market Place, this traditional market features local produce, crafts, and goods. It’s a great way to experience the town’s community spirit.

Outdoor Activities

  • Northleach Walking Trails: Explore the scenic countryside around Northleach through various walking trails. Enjoy the peaceful landscapes, charming villages, and picturesque views of the Cotswolds.
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens: Located a short drive from Northleach, this popular attraction features various animals and beautifully landscaped gardens. It’s a great family-friendly day out.

Local Shopping and Markets

  • Northleach Antiques and Collectables: Browse through a selection of antiques and collectables in the town’s shops. Northleach is known for its antique stores, offering unique finds and treasures.
  • Independent Shops and Boutiques: Explore the high street for various independent shops, including gift shops, clothing boutiques, and speciality food stores.

Food and Drink

  • The Wheatsheaf Inn: A historic inn offering a cosy atmosphere, delicious pub fare, and a selection of local ales. After exploring the town, it’s a great spot for a meal or a drink.
  • The Black Cat Café: A charming café serving homemade cakes, light lunches, and excellent coffee. Perfect for a relaxing break.
  • The Ox House Wine Company: Enjoy a selection of fine wines and tasty snacks in this welcoming wine bar. It’s an ideal place for an evening out.

Nearby Attractions

  • Bourton-on-the-Water: A picturesque village known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” with its charming low bridges and tranquil river. Visit the Model Village and the Cotswold Motoring Museum.
  • Bibury: A nearby village famous for Arlington Row, a row of historic cottages. It’s a popular spot for photography and a short drive from Northleach.
  • Chedworth Roman Villa: A well-preserved Roman villa managed by the National Trust. Explore the ruins, including mosaics and bathhouses, to learn about Roman life in the Cotswolds.

Events and Festivals

  • Northleach Charter Fair and Music Festival: An annual event featuring live music, food stalls, and family-friendly activities. It’s a highlight of the town’s social calendar.
  • Northleach Christmas Market: Held during the holiday season, this festive market features stalls selling gifts, crafts, and seasonal treats. It’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.
  • Northleach Historical and Cultural Events: Throughout the year, Northleach hosts various events that celebrate its rich history and culture. Check the town’s calendar for lectures, guided tours, and exhibitions.

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