A little stream babbles gently while the sound of birds fills the air. Leafy vegetation sways gently in the slight breeze and the low hum of a faraway tractor can be heard if you tilt your head just so. This is the magical reality of the Cotswolds, a stunning region just an hour from London. Here’s a quick guide to the best things to do in Upper Slaughter, a pretty village in the very heart of Gloucestershire!
A brief history of Upper Slaughter
Evidence of the Slaughters can be found as early as a thousand years ago, when a Norman Motte-and-Bailey castle dominated the land and its surroundings. The Slaughters were even mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. And, despite their macabre name, the name actually derives from the Old English meaning ‘muddy place’.
In more recent times, Upper Slaughter has been named a ‘Thankful Village’ (also referred to as ‘Sainted Village’) as it lost no men during WWI. Coln Rogers and Little Sodbury are the only other Cotswolds Village to be ‘Thankful Villages’. Post-WWII, the Cotswold settlement has since been referred to as one of the ‘Doubly Thankful Villages’ as it lost no men during WWI and WWII. Just 14 villages in the UK hold this title.
Nowadays, the village of Upper Slaughter is much less frequented than its ever-popular neighbour, Lower Slaughter (a similarly quaint village of buttery stone and complete with an old mill.) As such, it’s perfect to visit if you want to experience the Cotswolds without the crowds.
Unlike Lower Slaughter, the Upper Slaughter has little by way of attractions and the charm of the place lies in a simple wander around the place. For the very best photos (i.e. those without people) be sure to visit earlier in the day when golden hour bathes everything in a yellow glow and the crowds are at their fewest.
Architecture in Upper Slaughter (and the Lutyens connection)
The medieval-built almshouses in the centre of the village were restored by the architect Edwin Lutyens in the early 1900s. Lutyens was a man who also designed the last castle built in England, Castle Drogo, as well as the Cenotaph in London, and these exquisite buildings are well worth a look.
Over the years, the quintessentially British nature of the village (as well as its proximity to London and fairytale ambience) means that it’s been used as a backdrop for a fair few TV programmes and movies. Shows and films of note include the BBC’s ever-popular Father Brown.
Ford, Upper Slaughter
For those unfamiliar with fords, they’re basically road crossings which run through shallow streams. The ford of Upper Slaughter runs right through the middle of the village and is made of a tributary of the River Windrush. While there are small footbridges over which to cross the stream, if you’re travelling via vehicle you’ll have to drive straight through the water!
St Peter’s Church
Located in the very heart of the village, and down a narrow winding pathway, the Church of St Peter’s dates back to the 12th-century and is just as lovely inside as its exterior suggests. Situated several miles from both Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water, this Grade II* listed building is well worth a wander inside while in the village.
Where to stay in Upper Slaughter
Due to its position close to lots of beautiful Cotswolds Villages, as well as its secluded nature (there are no busy main roads nearby), Upper Slaughter makes for the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of every day busy life. From here, it’s easy to visit other towns in the area, as well as explore historical sites such as Sudeley Castle and Broadway Tower.
Lords of the Manor Hotel: With parts of this former family home and seat of power dating back to the 17th-century, this Manor House-turned hotel was purchased from Henry VIII by the Slaughter family and is today the perfect escape if you love your accommodation served with a side of history.
Joiners Cottage: Located in the very heart of Upper Slaughter, this cottage sleeps four and even comes with its very own English garden. Other amenities include a TV, kitchenette, and comfortable lounge area.