You will be relieved to hear that the Cotswold villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter have nothing to do with violence – the name derives from the Old English word slohtre, meaning a muddy place. At least nowadays, there is no mud in sight; just quaint limestone cottages, rolling fields and the winding River Eye.
Connected by footpath, the two Slaughters are among the most picturesque of the Cotswold villages. A short and pleasant cycle from Bourton-on-the-Water, but with a completely different ‘pace’, Upper and Lower Slaughter remain untouched by shops and restaurants, and instead offer a peaceful day’s exploring, whether on two wheels or on foot.
The most commonly visited of the two villages, Lower Slaughter is home to Lower Slaughter Manor, built in 1658 for the High Sherriff of Gloucestershire and today an impressive country hotel. The corn mill has been converted into a museum and gift shop, with tearooms where you can watch the original waterwheel turn as you enjoy an authentic Cotswolds brew.
Lower Slaughter is also the location of the ‘most romantic street in Britain’, according to a 2001 poll of internet users – what better place to indulge in a Shakespearean sonnet?
Less visited and more ‘tucked away’ than its Lower cousin, Upper Slaughter is well worth a visit. It is perhaps here that the Slaughters’ muddy reputation begins to make sense: a tributary of the River Windrush flows through the village, and can be crossed on foot at a pretty ford, or via footbridge.
Upper Slaughter is characterised by traditional stone buildings complete with dormers, dripstones and mullions, with a village square that was renovated at the turn of the twentieth century by celebrated architect Sir Edward Lutyens.
The Norman church of St Peters (pictured), which dates back to the twelfth century, makes a pleasant visit; with an entrance nestled between two grassy banks, approaching the building feels a little like going into a ‘Hobbit hole.’ Or simply take a moment to pause and watch the river go by beneath the spreading bows of a tree. That’s the beauty of the Slaughters – no busy itineraries, just peace and quiet.
Spending a couple of hours visiting the Slaughters is a chance to ‘step back in time’. Wandering around these charming villages is an authentic Cotswolds experience every visitor should enjoy.