Christmastime in the Cotswolds

Castle Combe, Cotswolds

We decided to stay in London for Christmas, so Andrew’s parents booked a trip to visit us just before the holiday. Since it was their second trip to London, we decided to head somewhere new for the weekend! Andrew and I had been hearing about the Cotswolds pretty much since we moved to London and had been wanting to visit. Their visit was the perfect time to spend a long weekend in the Cotswolds, and Christmastime in the Cotswolds did not disappoint.

We hired a car and set off for Castle Combe on Friday afternoon. After a fairly easy drive, we arrived at The Manor House Hotel just after sunset. The little town of Castle Combe, the stunning manor, the quaint mews houses and the beautiful church of St Andrew were enchanting even in the dark. We had set a really fabulous home base for the weekend!

The Manor House, Castle Combe

After setting down our things in our rooms, which were located in a darling mews, we went back to the Manor house itself.

Manor House Mews
We stayed in this adorable row!

At the Manor House, we explored the beautiful rooms and grabbed a drink in the festive, dark wood bar.

The Manor House, Castle Combe

Cocktail at the Manor House, Castle Combe
Andrew’s Christmas-spiced bourbon cocktail.

 

Christmas at the Manor House, Castle Combe

We then headed outside the property just across the street to the Castle Inn pub for dinner.

Castle Inn, Castle Combe

Also owned by the Manor House, this more casual setting was perfect for our travel-weary selves on a Friday evening. We each had a delicious main and Andrew and I split a poached pear for dessert. I’d never had one before and I think I may endeavour to make them this Christmas!

Saturday morning we ate breakfast in the Manor, then went for a walk around the grounds and the town.

Breakfast view at the Manor House

The Manor House, on the site it stands today, was originally built in 1373, but it has undergone many reconstructions since that time.

The Manor House, Castle Combe

It is decked out in period furnishings, however, they are not original or native to the Manor House.

Manor House, Castle Combe

We wandered around the frosty and beautiful Italian Gardens, built in the mid-19th century.

Italian Gardens at the Manor House

The path the staff recommended took us up into the hills and forest and fields surrounding Castle Combe, then back down into the village. The views were lovely.

Manor House from the hills of Castle Combe

Coming back into town from the opposite direction of our drive in the night before was idyllic. We crossed the Roman bridge from the trail back into the town.

Roman Bridge in Castle Combe

From there, we followed the road up to the “centre” of the town itself. The little stone bridge, the weaver’s cottages, the adorable stone buildings, townspeople out and about – it was something out of a fairytale.

Castle Combe, Cotswolds

It is like stepping back in time – little has changed architecture-wise here since the 15th century, when Castle Combe was built as a market town during the cloth boom.

Castle Combe

You can still see some of the old mills on the grounds of the Manor House.

Mills on the Bybrook, Castle Combe

After our morning walk, we hopped in the car and headed to Bradford-on-Avon for afternoon tea.

Bradford-on-Avon

I found the Bridge Tea Rooms after searching extensively for a quaint tea room that could accommodate a gluten-free afternoon tea in the southern part of the Cotswolds. It was tough! Luckily, I came upon the Bridge Tea Rooms and it fit the bill.

The Bridge Tea Rooms, Bradford-on-Avon

It was wonderful. The little tea rooms are so cute and even cuter all dressed up for Christmas. They were able to accommodate gluten-free easily and the food (both glutinous and not) was excellent.

Tea at Bridge Tea Rooms, Bradford-on-Avon

We got a seat right by the fire and it was such a lovely tea lunch. These were by far my favorite selection of tea finger sandwiches that I’ve had here in the UK. It was great!

Afternoon Tea at Bridge Tea Rooms

After tea, we set out again, this time to Bath for some sightseeing and shopping. We walked around the beautiful city and popped into shops that caught our eyes as we went along.

Bath at Christmastime

Before heading back, we popped into The Raven, which my father-in-law received as a recommendation. Had to get a half-pint!

The Raven in Bath

After an adventurous ride home, we made it to dinner at Bybrook. What a meal!

Bybrook main

 

Bybrook Restaurant, Manor House
Aspiring bon vivant, drinking a Morgon from Chateau de Jacques.

Our Sunday was very relaxed. We spent most of our time by the fire playing cards. Since it was a Sunday, we headed out to the Salutation Inn for a roast lunch. We had a lovely meal among the Christmas garlands of this cozy old pub.

The Salutation Inn, Castle Combe

We had popped into St Andrew’s on our walk where I had noticed a sign that said they’d be having Christmas Carols by candlelight at 6pm on Sunday. The church is very impressive – they began building the tower in 1436!

St Andrew, Castle Combe

I convinced the others to go and we had a lovely evening in the beautiful (though cold!) church singing Christmas carols with the villagers. They were very welcoming and it was a beautiful way to see more of the local community. And the church was packed full!

Christmas Carols at St Andrew in Castle Combe

 

Our weekend in the Cotswolds was beautiful and relaxing. This area is stunning and Castle Combe is truly picturesque. We have plans to return in June, and I can’t wait!

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