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The Secret Cottage Tour of The Cotswolds, II

Leaving Chastleton House, we drove directly to the Secret Cottage, which is about 5 minutes away. Built in 1580, the cottage has the typical thatched roof, with kitchen and living room downstairs, and sleeping quarters upstairs. 

Secret Cottage

Secret Cottage

When we arrived, we were greeted with a colorful spread of scones, clotted cream, cookies, jams, coffee and tea. 

Cotswolds Strawberries

Cotswolds Tea

With its crackling fire (sorry, no pics of the fireplace or the family’s living space), the cottage felt so cozy, I could have been tempted to stay but we had a full itinerary. Leaving the cottage, we stopped to admire Becky’s garden with its beautiful blooms. (Wish I knew more about flowering plants.) 

Secret Cottage garden

Secret Cottage garden

Cotswolds Secret Cottage bees

Cotswolds Secret Cottage succulents

Secret Cottage succulents

I took a few shots of the flowers but I was most interested in the thatched roof. According to Robin, our driver, the roof is made from Norfolk or water reed and costs approximately £30,000 (about $45,000).

Detail of a thatched roof

Detail of a thatched roof we saw in one of the villages

The reed, which is waterproof, is cut, dried and installed in layers. Once installed, the roof keeps the home warm in winter and cool in summer. I was surprised to hear that these roofs can last about 50 years. The ridge, however, must be replaced every 20 years. (Wonder how long a conventional roof lasts?)

Upper Oddington

Our next stop was the village of Lower Oddington, a preserved area with no new buildings.

Cotswolds Street

The two villages, Upper and Lower Oddington, have about 400 residents. We exchanged waves and hellos to a few of them as we left the car. 

Cotswolds Beauty


Next was Adlestrop, a pretty little village of about 120 people. Adlestrop has a post office and a church, St. Mary Magdalene. 

The poet, Edward Thomas (1878-1917) wrote a poem around 1912 which celebrated its beauty. Sadly, Thomas died in WWI, 5 years after the poem was published.

Adlestrop Post Office

Adlestrop Post Office

Jane Austen stayed at Adlestrop House, which was then the rectory where her mother’s cousin, the Rev. Thomas Leigh, lived. Adlestrop House was Austen’s inspiration for her novel, Mansfield Park

Adlestrop House

Adlestrop House

Cotswolds St. Mary Magdalene Church Adlestrop

St. Mary Magdalene Church

Cotswolds Adelstrop hedge

A thatched cottage in Adlestrop

Great Tew

When Mr. Boulton, the owner of the manor house died in 1914, he didn’t leave an heir. Fifty years later, they found someone to assume ownership but in the intervening years, many of the cottages fell into disrepair, some swallowed by thick vegetation.

Great Tew

Great Tew

Robin said that the new lord sold two of the paintings from the manor and got enough to renovate. Of 100 cottages, 80 are thatched, 90 are owned by the manor.

Cottage overrun by vegetation

Cottage overrun by vegetation

Falklands Arms

Falklands Arms

Approximately 150 people live in the village, which has a pub, the Falkland Arms.

The Rollright Stones

Near Chippen Norton, Robin slowed and pointed to the location of the Rollright Stones, a monument about the same age as Stonehenge. The Rollright Stones further establishes that this type of monument construction was common in prehistoric Britain. 

Cotswolds Dry Stone Walls

Dry stone walls, like these are an enduring feature of the Cotswolds. Surprisingly, they are made without mortar or cement and can last for many years with little attention.

Cotswolds stone fence

Dry stone wall, made without mortar or cement

Stone wall, detail

Stone wall, detail

Bourton-On-The Water

We drove through this picturesque town that is large enough (approximately 3,000 people live there) to accommodate tour buses, hence it receives lots of visitors. Bourton-On-The-Water is located on the  River Windrush.

Upper and Lower Slaughter

Upper and Lower Slaughter (from the Old English word, Slohtre, which means muddy place) are two pretty villages located on the River Eye.  Upper Slaughter is called a “sainted village” because it lost no one in WWI. `

Cotswolds Lower Slaughter

Lower Slaughter

Lower Slaughter

Cotswolds Lower Slaughter4

Lower Slaughter has a waterwheel, and an old mill which has been converted into a tea shop and store. Although it is located near Bourton-On-The-Water, because of the narrow streets to the village, Lower Slaughter isn’t accessible to large tour buses.   

Approximately 170 people live in Upper Slaughter, 200 in Lower Slaughter.

Cotswolds Thatched Roof Cotswolds Thatched house

We also drove through the villages of Wyck Rissenton and Cornwell before returning to Secret Cottage for coffee and tea. Robin took us back to the train station at Merton-in-Marsh in time to catch the train to London. 

Some Old English Words and Meaning

Chest, Shire – fortified settlement.
Chipping, from ‘cheapen’  – market.
City – has a cathedral.
Comb or Combe – valley.
Cots – sheep.
Dovecot or dovecote – a place for doves and pigeons. The scrapings are collected and used to fertilize the fields. Its size is usually a sign of the wealth of the landowner.
Ford, as in Oxford – a way across a river.
Ham, e.g., Cheltenham – a settlement.
Slaughter, e.g., Upper Slaughter – from Slohtre meaning a marshy, muddy area.
Staddle stones – used to prop up graneries to keep the rats out.
Ton, e.g., Oddington – an enclosure.
Town – a community of 1,000 people or more.
Wold, Wolde – a hill.

Some Famous Residents of The Cotswolds

David Cameron, PM
Kate Winslet
Hugh Grant
Patrick Stewart
Kate Moss

Secret Cottage Tour Details

6-hour guided tour of select Northern Cotswolds villages, tea, coffee, pastries, buffet lunch, and traditional cream tea – £85 or US122. For more info, check out the Secret Cottage site. Enjoy!


Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, Ruth at Tanama Tales and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations.

Budget Travelers Sandbox


  1. Wow what a spread they put on. The clotted cream and scones look fantastic. I love the old cottages and thatched roofs. We spent a winter on a farm in Devon and your photos are bringing it nostalgically to life for me.

  2. It is so lovely isn’t it? Your post brought me back to the time I went to the Cotswolds! I can totally live in that place. I’ve been to Bourton-On-The-Water and I thought it looked like a fake movie setting, it’s just too perfect! 🙂
    Pinay Flying High recently posted..Doha | Urban Jazz Kitchen, An Upcoming Hip and Happening Place.My Profile

  3. Even though I am not that attracted to England, this is one place I have been wanting to visit. The roof facts are very interesting. $45K? And, I though my dad used to spend a lot of money fixing the leaks on our roof.

  4. Such beautiful countryside in the Cotswolds!

  5. An outstanding followup to your first report from the Cotswolds!! I have now officially fallen in love with the region thanks to your fine tour and exquisite photographs!! More more more!

  6. The Costwolds would have to be one of my favourite places in the UK. All those gorgeous cottages, churches and pubs! The afternoon tea spread looks absolutely delicious too! 🙂

  7. this is so beautiful! I’d love to visit the Cotswolds one day!This tour sounds great, and you got so much sweet afternoon tea stuff:) # the weekend travel inspiration
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted..Lisbon oceanariumMy Profile

  8. So adore the Cotswolds. We rented a cottage for a week a few years ago, and still managed to see just a bit of it. Loved the Slaughters.
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  9. Sophie

    So adore the Cotswolds. We rented a cottage for a week a few years ago, and still managed to see just a bit of it. Loved the Slaughters. 🙂

  10. How lovely that you are able to do that, Sophie! That’s my goal for my next visit. I agree: Tha Slaughters are indeed quite lovely.

  11. I hope you do, Tanja. I’m ready to go back! It really left an impression on me and was by far, the best part of my trip.
    The tea was a nice treat.

  12. It’s such a gorgeous spot, Lyndall, the perfect tour. I’m ready to go back.

  13. Thanks, Jeff! I can’t say enough how beautiful it is. Hope I’ve convinced you to take a tour. You’ll love it!!

  14. It is, Rachel! Have you been?

  15. I’m not sure what conventional roofs cost, Ruth, or how long they last but these thatch roofs last a long time.
    Hope you make it to the Cotswolds one of these days.

  16. LOL, that’s an interesting way to put it. It is such a lovely place and, you’re right: “too perfect.”

  17. Oh yes, they did! It was such a lovely treat. I was stuffed when I left.
    You’ll definitely love the Cotswolds, Jan. Hope you make it there soon!

  18. What a lovely trip!! The treats looked so yummy too 😀

  19. This is amazing! We’re heading to The Cotswolds next week! Literally can’t wait after your post! Wow!

    Thanks so much! 🙂

    Lloyd & Yaya x

  20. Wow, wonderful. I’d love to hear about your trip!

  21. Your two posts have convinced me that I definitely need to do this tour the next time we’re in London. I love all the cottages and the thatched roofs. Who knew it could cost that much? You had quite a spread too with all those pastries. Yum! Beautiful photos and great virtual tour, Marcia!
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  22. Thanks, Mary. You have to go! It’s such a beautiful area, I know you’ll love it!

  23. Just beautiful! And that spread looks amazing! Yummy! I love this post. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  24. Thanks, Rachel! It was a lovely spread and a great tour.