Are you a fan of the beautiful Cotswolds countryside? If so, then you’ll want to make sure to include some explorations of its quaint and colourful churches during your trip.
With gorgeous architecture, scenic gardens and interesting historical monuments, these iconic Cotswolds churches are more than worth visiting – they’re absolutely essential! From the 11th century St James’ Church in Chipping Campden to the beautiful St Barnabas Church in Snowshill, learn more about why each one is so special and what you can expect to see.
St John the Baptist Church, Cirencester
Cotswold’s largest town, Cirencester is a historic hot spot! Nestled on the banks of River Churn it boasts St John The Baptist Church – one of England’s grandest parish churches.
Its towering Perpendicular Gothic tower with flying buttresses from (c 1400) and beautiful three-storey south porch provides an impressive view for visitors. Get up close to uncover truly unique historical treasures like Anne Boleyn’s cup made in 1535 which can be found within its wall safe – a must-see when visiting this charming English landmark.
St. James’ Church, Chipping Campden
For over 800 years, St James’ Church in Chipping Campden has been a local landmark for both religious and commercial life. Its ornate Perpendicular Gothic style was created using the substantial profits from 15th century wool-trade, while the remarkable row of almshouses nearby were constructed in 1612 – an incredible reminder of England’s rich heritage.
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Church of St Peter & St Paul, Northleach
Northleach, a picturesque Cotswold town known for its breathtaking church – nicknamed “The Cathedral of the Cotswolds” – attracts visitors from all over. With origins dating back to the 12th century with many improvements made during the 15th-century wool boom, this grand structure greets more than 20,000 people per year seeking to marvel at its history and architecture.
St Mary’s Church, Chipping Norton
People visiting Chipping Norton are in for a real treat. Not only is it the highest town in Oxfordshire, its church St Mary’s breathes centuries of history dating as far back as 1200.
It features an impressive Perpendicular nave and clerestory full of alabaster tombs, fluted diamond-shaped pillars plus one rather interesting footnote – when Edward VI introduced a new English Prayer Book there was widespread unrest throughout Oxfordshire led by none other than Henry Joyce, vicar of Chipping Norton himself who ended up hung from his own Church’s tower!
St Barnabas Church, Snowshill
Nestled in a picturesque Cotswold village surrounded by centuries-old stone cottages is the unique St Barnabas Church, an architectural wonder dating back to 1864. Surprisingly contemporary despite its age, this stunning church has been lovingly incorporated into its hilltop setting for over 150 years!
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For centuries, Snowshill village had been intricately connected to Stanton. As far back as the 9th century King Kenulph of Mercia graciously gifted a manor and associated tithes in recognition of its importance – there’s evidence suggesting that this could have included an ancient chapel or church! Fast-forwarding several hundred years, Victorian architecture has replaced most traces of what came before – yet we can certainly admire how anchoring it must be for those living here today.
Step into St John the Baptist Church in Burford, one of several magnificent “Wool Churches” built between 1160-1475 during England’s flourishing wool trade. From a memorial tablet honouring Henry VIII’s barber-surgeon to an ornate tomb for Sir Lawrence and Lady Tanfield — this place is brimming with fascinating history.
You may even spot Christopher Kempster’s tablet – commemorating the mason who worked alongside famous architect Christopher Wren on the reconstruction of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and a pre-Christian carving dating back to 100AD.
In 1649 mutineers in Cromwell’s army were kept captive here before being forced onto the rooftop to watch their leader’s execution; those executed each have their own plaque close by as tribute.