The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty extending from Chipping Campden in the North to Bath in the South. The Eastern section of the Cotswolds covers parts of West Oxfordshire including the market towns of Burford, Chipping Norton, Witney and Woodstock.

The Cotswolds is famous for its picturesque rural countryside and beautiful villages made from honey coloured limestone. The word "Cotswolds" comes from the word "cots" meaning stone sheep shelters and "wold" meaning rolling hills.

There have been people farming the land for thousands of years. In medieval times it was famous for it’s wool trade and as a result there was a decline in arable farming. Rich merchants spent their money on “wool churches” and manor houses. In the 18th century the Enclosure Act changed the landscape forever. This act of parliament allowed landowners to divide open land with drystone walls. This required less farm labourers and as a result many villages emptied as workers sought employment in larger towns.

The Cotswolds are rich in Oolite limestone, many quarries are still in use today. Most old limestone houses and cottages are listed buildings and protected from any major alteration. Limestone quarried from this region has been used in the construction of St Paul's Cathedral in London, Melbourne Cathedral in Australia and many of the colleges in nearby Oxford.

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