Painswick

Gloucestershire

This small town gem is known as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’

Set on a hill with views that stretch to Wales, Painswick, which lies between Cheltenham and Stroud, is a picturesque town of honeyed Cotswold stone.

A mix of medieval cottages and wool merchants’ houses make up the historic residences of this town which flourished thanks to the wool trade.

In the centre of the town, the 14th century Norman church of St. Mary’s is renowned for the 99 ancient yew trees which populate its picturesque churchyard.

Situated on the Cotswold Way National Trail, this is wonderful walking country – the Cotswold Way runs right through the town – attracting visitors which temporarily swell the town’s population of around 2,000.

The Cotswold Way takes in Painswick Beacon, the site of an Iron Age hill fort and from where you can take in the views across the Severn Valley and the Forest of Dean to the Welsh mountains beyond. Much of the honey-coloured stone typical to this area was quarried from Painswick Beacon.

For gardeners and art history aficionados, Painswick Rococo Gardens have been restored to their original, fantastical 18th century rococo style and appear on The Historic England Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

Painswick Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel, in a Palladian house is a stylish place to stay or to pop in for coffee, dinner or a treatment in the spa.

There are a couple of 16th century pubs, The Royal Oak and the Falcon, overlooking the church, along with cafes and restaurants including St. Michael’s – and mobile fish and chips!

A short (horse) ride away lies Foston’s Ash Inn (dogs and horses welcome) known as ‘the polo pub’ for its proximity to the Beaufort and Longdole Polo Clubs and which has been serving delicious, locally sourced food for 200 years.

Just down the road is Laurie Lee’s village of Slad, the setting for his memoir Cider with Rosie, and where you’ll find Lee’s atmospheric local pub The Woolpack which serves delicious food.

Other amenities include an 18-hole golf course, tennis and rugby clubs, and a bowling green claiming to be the oldest in the country. An annual Arts Festival includes a wearable art competition and you can also find Painswick Fabrics, a discount designer fabric shop that won a mention in Vogue.

Croft School Primary serves the town (rated ‘good’ by Ofsted) with a wider choice of schools in nearby Stroud which also has two grammar schools: Stroud High School (for girls) and Marling School (for boys).

Independent schools in the vicinity include Wycliffe College and Beaudesert Park School.

Painswick lies 4 miles from Stroud and 10 miles from Cheltenham. Trains from both will take you to London Paddington in around 90 minutes.