The Cotswolds: A Cultural History


With its gentle hills and timeless villages, the Cotswold countryside is a vision of natural beauty and rural calm, but it is also a region rich in history. In this new addition to the Landscapes of the Imagination series, Jane Bingham offers an intriguing portrait of the Cotswolds over the centuries, ranging from ancient stone circles and ruined Roman villas to the Cotswolds today, a picturesque destination spot popular with country-weekenders, tourists, and celebrities. Readers will visit fine churches and ...

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With its gentle hills and timeless villages, the Cotswold countryside is a vision of natural beauty and rural calm, but it is also a region rich in history. In this new addition to the Landscapes of the Imagination series, Jane Bingham offers an intriguing portrait of the Cotswolds over the centuries, ranging from ancient stone circles and ruined Roman villas to the Cotswolds today, a picturesque destination spot popular with country-weekenders, tourists, and celebrities. Readers will visit fine churches and manor houses that have survived from the Middle Ages, and tour a landscape still bearing the scars of the Civil War. The home of kings and nobles since Saxon times, the region is famous for its elegant estates, such as Blenheim Palace—England's grandest stately home—while signs of the early industrial age can be seen in its mills and factories. Artists, musicians, and writers were also drawn to this rural paradise, from William Shakespeare and William Morris to T.S. Eliot and Ralph Vaughn Williams. Bingham captures it all in her charming portrait of this glorious spot in the heart of southern England.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195398762
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/18/2010
  • Series: Landscapes of the Imagination Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Bingham is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University and has contributed articles to a range of publications including The Independent and This England.

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Table of Contents

Preface & Acknowledgements x

Introduction: "A Country Made of Men's Visions" xiii

Looking at the Land xv

The History of the Cotswolds xvi

Changing Views: Commentators on the Cotswolds xviii

Living Landscape or Heritage Park? xxi

Recent Views: Behind the Pretty Pictures xxii

The Insiders' View xxiv

Imagination and Images xxv

Responses to the Landscape xxv

Chapter 1 Ancient Echoes: From Prehistory to the Coming of the Anglo-Saxons 1

Exploring Belas Knap 1

Tombs from the Stone Age 3

At the Rollright Stones 5

Bronze-Age Survivals 7

Clues from the Celts 7

Remembering the Romans 8

Tracing the Ancient Ways 11

After the Romans 12

Anglo-Saxon Echoes 13

Chapter 2 Finding God in Gloucestershire: Saints, Churches and Cierics 15

Early Abbeys and the Boy Saint of Winchcombe 15

Sacred Sites and Saxon Sculptures 18

Norman Churches and Carvings 19

Stories on Walls 20

Woolgothic Wonders 20

The End of the Abbeys 22

Fame and Fraud at Hailes Abbey 24

Visitors at the Rectory: Jane Austen and John Wesley 26

John Keble at Eastleach 27

Non-Conformism: A Different Way of Worship 29

Selsey Church: Pre-Raphaelite Showcase 29

What Next? 30

Chapter 3 Living off the Land: Sheep, Crops and Stone 31

Wealth from Wool 31

Fields, Commons and Walls 36

Good Times and Bad Times for Farmers 38

Experiments and Communities: Charterville and Whiteway 39

Old Mont of Enstone: A Life on the Land 41

Farming Today: Super-stars and Strugglers 43

The Stone and the Magician: Quarries and Quarrymen 44

Using the Stone: Stonemasons and Dry-stone Wallers 45

Building Today: The Tradition Continues 48

Chapter 4 The Cotswolds at War: Battlefields, Memories and Memorials 49

The Civil War Begins: The Battle of Edgehill 49

Fighting on the Edge: The Battle of Lansdown 52

A Region at War 53

Damage and Confusion 54

The Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold: The End of the Fighting 55

Images of Cavaliers: Stow-on-the-Wold and Swinbrook 56

The Burford Levellers 58

Two World Wars 60

Bertie, May and Mrs. Fish in Wartime 61

Modern Times 62

Chapter 5 Posh Cotswolds: Royalty, Aristocracy and Celebrities 63

Woodstock Palace: Kings and Queens in the Forest 63

Minster Lovell and a Dreadful Doom 67

Sudeley Castle and the Tudors 68

Blenheim Palace: England's Grandest Stately Home 70

Marlboroughs, Vanderbilts and Churchills 72

Dyrham Park and The Remains of the Day 73

Chastleton and Stanway: Houses with Memories 74

New Owners for Old Homes 75

Chapter 6 Mills, Steam and Machinery: The Industrial Age 77

Hard Labour at Castle Combe 77

"A Truly Noble Manufacture" 79

The Coming of the Machines 82

John Halifax, Gentleman: Perfect Progress at Dunkirk Mill? 83

"They Say the Suffering is Very Great Indeed" 85

Changing Trades 87

Blankets and Bliss in Oxfordshire 87

Carving up the Landscape: Roads and Canals 09

Great Railway Adventures: Isambard Kingdom Brunel 92

Train-Spotting in the Cotswolds: The Reverend Awdry 95

Chapter 7 "Heaven on Earth": William Morris at Kelmscott Manor and Broadway Tower 97

William and Janey 99

"A Little House out of London" 100

A Serpent in Paradise 101

The "Old Grey House by the River" 104

Later Years at Kelmscott 106

Kelmscott Today 108

Views from Broadway Tower 110

Chapter 8 Seeking the Simple Life: Arts and Crafts in Sapperton and Chipping Campden 113

Back to the Land: In Search of a Rural Alternative 115

Gimson and the Barnsleys: The Start of a Dream 115

Pinbury Park: A Workshop in the Woods 117

Settling in at Sapperton 119

Ernest Gimson: Master Designer 120

Ashbee's Vision: The Start of the Guild of Handicrafts 121

Creating Camelot: The Guild at Chipping Campden 122

Good Years for the Guild 125

The End of the Dream 126

Chipping Campden Today 127

Chapter 9 Arty Crafty Cotswolds: The Next Generation 129

Campden Crafts 129

Fine Furniture in Broadway 131

Plain Pottery in Winchcombe 133

Women Designers in the Cotswolds 135

"Arty Crafty" Lifestyles 137

Designing Cotswold Homes 138

Owlpen Manor: "Resuscitated Dream-Place" 139

Arts and Crafts on Display: Two Museums and Rodmarton Manor 141

Cotswold Crafts Today 142

Chapter 10 A Cotswold Life: Laurie Lee in the Slad Valley 143

Lees in the Valley 143

Scenes from Slad 145

After Rosie 146

Return to Slad 148

A Child in the Valley 149

The Return of the Native? 149

Slad Today 150

Chapter 11 Picturing the Scene: Writers, Artists and Musicians in the Cotswolds 153

William Shakespeare: "Wild Hills" and Justice Shallow's country 154

On Bredon Hill with Housman 156

Ivor Gurney: Poetry and Music at Cranham and Crickley 156

James Elroy Flecker on Painswick Hill 158

Hilaire Belloc: A Brief Voyage on the Evenlode 160

A Poet Laureate in Chipping Campden 160

A Supertramp in Nailsworrh 162

T. S. Eliot at Burnt Norton 164

U. A. Fanthorpe at Wotton-under-Edge 166

John Buchan's Adventures in Wychwood Forest 167

J. B. Priesdey's Hitherton-on-the-Wole 168

Barbara Pym in Finstock 169

Jilly (and Joanna) in Rutshire 170

Artists and Writers in Broadway 171

The View from Far Oakridge: Rothenstein, Beerbohm and Drinkwater 174

Stanley Spencer in Leonard Stanley 175

Music from the Cotswolds: Vaughan Williams and Holst 177

Chapter 12 Eccentric Cotswolds: Collectors, Dreamers and Dangerous Games 179

Snowshill Manor: A House of Curiosities 179

"Curiouser and Curiouser" 181

Sezincote House: A Mogul Fantasy 183

Batsford Arboretum: Inspiration from the East 185

Mitfords in the Cotswolds 185

A Very Unusual Childhood 187

Games, Quarrels and Horror at Swinbrook 188

Swinbrook Today 190

Woodchesrer Mansion: The House That Was Never a Home 191

Toddington Manor: Damien Hirst's Treasure Cave 194

Chapter 13 Shaping the Landscape: Gardens and Gardeners in the Cotswolds 197

Cirencester Park: Alexander Pope's "Enchanted Forest" 198

Eighteenth-Century Elegance: Rousham, Painswick and Stanway 199

Capability Brown at Blenheim 201

Humphry Repton (and Jane Austen) in the Cotswolds 202

Chastleton House: A Jacobean Wonderland 203

Owlpen Manor: Gardens of Paradise 204

Arts and Crafts Gardens in the Cotswolds 205

Major Lawrence Johnson at Hidcote Manor 205

Two Women's Visions: Kiftsgate Court and Barnsley House 206

The Gardener Prince at Highgrove 208

Chapter 14 The Cotswolds at Play: Sports, Games and Leisure Pursuits 211

Hunting Country 213

Equestrian Spores 213

Ancient Races 215

Cricket on the Wolds 215

The Cotswold Olimpicks 217

Festivals, Fairs and Merrymaking 219

Cheese Rolling, River Football and Other Strange Pursuits 220

Morris Dancers (And Some Strong Reactions) 221

Leisure and Pleasure 223

The Heart of England: Rambling and Ramblers 224

Further Reading 227

Index of Literary, Artistic & Historical Names 235

Index of Places & Landmarks 240

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