A small town hidden away in the hills between Oxford and Cheltenham, Northleach is truly the ‘secret of the Cotswolds’ and is one of the best preserved historical towns in the Cotswolds and the UK.
Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Northleach is notable for its historical streets that have changed little since the 1500s. Half timbered Tudor houses line the narrow cobbled alleyways, and visiting the town is like stepping into a time portal, back to Northleach’s boom years as a successful wool town in the 13-1500s.
The wool of the local Cotswold Lion sheep became known for its rare and fine quality, and the product was sold around medieval Europe, and the town’s wool merchants invested their riches into the spectacular church of St. Peter and St. Paul, which still dominates the town with its gothic style.
Known as the ‘Cathedral of the Cotswolds’, the ‘wool church’ of St. Peter and St. Paul is an essential stop for anyone who is interested in the architecture and history of the Cotswolds, with its eye-catching stained glass windows and stone carvings.
The town is quieter than other popular stops on Cotswolds tours, but it oozes charm and is a great stop for walkers and cyclists who want to step into history. Northleach’s centre bustles with shoppers on a Wednesday, when the traditional market arrives on its main square. There are also plenty of independent shops to explore, selling wares from fine wines and cheeses to antiques and doll houses.
One of Northleach’s curios is the mechanical music museum on the high street, specialising in music boxes and self playing instruments. There is also a selection of pubs and bistros to dine at, selling high quality, locally sourced food.