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Lower Slaughter: Is This the Prettiest Village in the Costwolds?

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 guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

Why visit Lower Slaughter?

As one of the most popular places to visit in the Cotswolds, if you’re planning a trip to the Cotswolds then no doubt Lower Slaughter is already on your list. However, if it’s not already, then some of the best reasons to visit include the sheer beauty of the area as well as the architecture of the village itself.

The River Eye is a gently flowing river which, in turn, leads itself to perfect photo opportunities full of reflections and perfect for slow shutter speed captures. Other reasons to visit Lower Slaughter include the many wonderful walks nearby and the ease of which you can visit many other locations of outstanding natural beauty near to the village provided that you have access to a car.

What is Lower Slaughter known for?

Lower Slaughter is famous for being one of the most beautiful towns to visit in the Cotswolds. Incredibly picturesque, the small settlement is also well-known for being the site of the filming locations of the 2020 adaptation of Emma.

A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

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.

All in all, Lower Slaughter is easily one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds, and you can’t go wrong by dedicating at least a long afternoon to exploring its quaint streets and gently babbling brooks.

A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

Best things to do in Lower Slaughter

Discover Emma filming locations

Of course, with such a beautiful backdrop, it should come as no surprise that Lower Slaughter has been used as a backdrop for movies and TV series over the years.

Most recently, the town was used to shoot the 2020 adaptation of Emma. Key scenes filmed in Emma that feature Lower Slaughter include the village hall as the haberdashery, the market square, and several of the bridges crossing the River Eye.

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 the Old Mill museum, which features exhibitions about the area, as well as a gift shop and café.

A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

Stroll along Copse Hill Road

Back in 2011, the main street running through Lower Slaughter, that of Copse Hill Road, was voted the ‘most romantic street in Britain’ thanks to a Google Street View award where around 20,000 people voted. One stroll along this darling street and you’ll soon see why- just remember to bring your camera along!

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.

A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

Eat at The Slaughters Country Inn

As such a small settlement, it should come as no surprise that there is not a great amount of choice when it comes to places to eat in Lower Slaughter. As such, if you are looking to head out on a Cotswolds road trip and want to save money, then you might consider packing a picnic.

Otherwise, the main place to eat in Lower Slaughter is at The Slaughters Inn, which serves traditional country pub food. Unfortunately, the eatery isn’t greatly reviewed so I would simply head here for drinks and the ambiance as opposed to a full meal!

Stay in Lower Slaughter Manor

If you’re approaching the village from Upper Slaughter (and I highly recommend visiting Upper Slaughter- read my full guide here 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.

A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

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!

A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

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. Check prices and availability here.

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. Check prices and availability here.

A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

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A quick guide to the best things to do in Lower Slaughter: Is this the prettiest town in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England?

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TKnight

Saturday 5th of June 2021

I'm a little confused as there are photos here of some of the beautiful properties along the riverside, which when seen in person, carry signs saying 'Do NOT take photos of my house' and 'No drones' and 'Private Water, keep out'... Seems very unwelcoming. This, partnered with an awful chat with a local who displayed blatant racism about Asian people invading the area and spreading Covid was beyond appalling. Prettiest village aesthetically, maybe, but one to avoid sadly.

wm

Saturday 10th of April 2021

i think you should write cotswolds, not costwolds

Ellie

Tuesday 16th of March 2021

I love Lower Slaughter. I think it's the best place in the whole world, and have asked my children to scatter my ashes there when my time comes. I can't think of any place I'd rather spend eternity.

james Finnerty

Wednesday 20th of January 2021

It is NOT the prettiest village in the Cotswalds . . . It is definitely the prettiest village in all the United Kingdom It ranks with where I live (Esperance West Australia - most beautiful beaches in the world), the island of Burano in the Venice Lagoon, Banff in Canada, and Namche Bazaar in Nepal Himalayas as being one of the 5 most beautiful places I've visited on this planet.

Jo Beckhelling

Monday 24th of February 2020

Lovely article Sophie! The tip about visiting Upper Slaughter first was especially useful and just what we needed to get our bearings before setting off for the Cotswolds. Do let me know if you are ever planning to visit Rome and maybe I can return the favour. Thank you.

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