Pretty stone cottages, rose flower gardens, and gently flowing streams: if you’re looking to step back in time in the heart of the Cotswolds, then you simply must visit Lower Slaughter, a settlement which dates back over a thousand years and may well be the prettiest village in all of Gloucestershire!
A quick history of Lower Slaughter
First things first: let’s clear up the name thing! Yes, at first glance Slaughter sounds like it would be the last place you would want to visit (and it even sounds a little murderous?!). However, the word actually derives from the Old English ‘slough’, meaning something along the lines of ‘muddy place’.
This quaint settlement was originally attested in the Domesday Book as ‘Scolstre,’ meaning that Lower Slaughter dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, and possibly even earlier. After all, here in the Cotswolds people have been living and working for well over three thousand years!
Today, many of the houses in the village today find their roots in the 16th and 17th-centuries and the majority are typically Gloucestershire; created using local Cotswold sandstone.
The Old Mill
Asides from wandering the postcard perfect streets which make up the village, and paying a visit to the pub, Lower Slaughter offers little by way of attractions. Instead, the charm of the place lies in its chocolate box nature and ease of access to nearby countryside walks.
Within the Domesday book of 1086, a mill is recorded as being present on the site where the current one sits. The Old Mill standing on site now dates back to the 19th-century and was used right up until the late 1950s. Today, it is home to a museum about the area, as well as a gift shop and café.
Church of St Mary
Opposite the pub, on the other side of the gently flowing River Eye (which is crossed in the village by just two tiny stone footbridges), you’ll find the Church of St Mary the Virgin. The ecclesiastical building was first constructed during the 13th-century, those much of what you see today was added during the 19th-century.
Lower Slaughter Manor
If you’re approaching the village from Upper Slaughter (and I highly recommend visiting Upper Slaughter before Lower Slaughter- Upper is beautiful while Lower is simply breathtaking), then you’ll pass Lower Slaughter Manor en route.
First constructed in the 17th-century (though it may well be the case that a medieval Nunnery was incorporated into the building), the former family mansion remained in the hands of Sir George Whitmore’s descendants for well over three centuries, right up until 1964. Today, the manor operates as a luxury hotel.
When to visit Lower Slaughter
If you want to make the most of a trip to Lower Slaughter, then I suggest visiting just outside of peak season if you’re able to. June and September are often sunny, the temperatures are warm, and yet the crowds which flock here come July and August have not yet arrived, or have already departed.
If you’re thinking of bypassing this picturesque village in favour of places like Bibury, then that would be your first Cotswolds mistake! When I visited the village, I had most of the place to myself (with the exception of a couple of locals gardening!) as I made a trip into Lower Slaughter mid-week in mid June.
If you do opt to visit the Slaughters, then do bear in mind that the roads to reach the village are incredibly narrow and single track in some places. Parking in both Slaughters is limited. The difficulty of reaching the village, however, means that many tour buses don’t come here meaning that even if you visit during peak season, it likely won’t be as busy as nearby Bourton on the Water!
Where to stay in Lower Slaughter
If you really want to make an escape of your time in the Slaughters (Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter being located just one mile apart from one another), then I recommend staying for a night or two. After all, the central location of this pretty Cotswolds Village makes it the perfect base from which to explore the area. Stow-in-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water are both less than a half hour drive away by car.
The Slaughters Manor House: This former 17th-century family mansion is now a luxury hotel and lies on the fringes of Lower Slaughter, just across the road from its pub. Situated behind corrugated iron railings and several well trimmed bushes, the beautiful accommodation operates as a contemporary country house hotel.
The Slaughters Country Inn: The main pub of the village, which was formerly a preparatory school associated with Eton, also offers 31 rooms at various price points. Since 2011, the property has operated as a family run country inn besides the gently flowing River Eye.