The unfortunately titled Cotswolds villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter are thankfully named after muddy wetland areas in the Old English language, rather than anything less appealing.
Nestled on the banks of the River Eye, these twin villages link via a mile-long path and infuse the regions’ industrial heritage with a watermill, stone bridges and charming riverside cottages.
Just 5 minutes’ drive from bustling Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter is a peaceful, idyllic village set by the river and home to one of the most romantic streets in the UK – Copse Hill Road.
Honey-hued houses adorned with colourful flowers and traditional mullioned windows sit aside the river flanked by trees, and as tourism is the primary village business, there are cafes serving afternoon tea and drinks near the water’s edge.
Visitors to Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds can take a walk to the church of St. Mary dating to 1867 – a pretty church with stained glass windows, arches and wooden pews.
In the corner of the village, the 19th century restored flour mill with a waterwheel and tall chimney dominates the skyline in red brick. It hasn’t been used for production since the 1950s and has since been transformed into an interesting museum where visitors (for a small fee) can learn all about artisan breadmaking and the inner workings of the mill.
There’s also an award-winning gift shop to browse, brimming with an eclectic array of antiques and crafts, run by a well-known jazz singer. One highlight for many visitors to Lower Slaughter is sampling the village’s mouth-watering homemade organic ice cream. With flavours such as butter crunch, garden mint choc and brown bread to enjoy, it’s no wonder people travel from far and wide for a sugar cone or tub!
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The village is a picturesque movie location too, and most recently the 2020 film ‘Emma’ was filmed here. If you fancy staying a little longer, The Slaughters Manor House has a fine restaurant serving locally sourced ingredients from renowned Cotswolds producers. Their all-day menu boasts salads and sandwiches, and they can even prepare a hamper with luxury items so you can enjoy with family and friends during your walk to the neighbouring village.
A short 10-minute stroll along the riverside path, lesser-known Upper Slaughter sits on a grassy slope above the babbling stream. It was once home to a Norman castle, and remnants can still be seen today as you walk around. The village was recorded in the 1086 Doomsday Book and it’s one of the only places in the UK not to lose any servicemen and women during WWI and WWII.
The heart of Upper Slaughter is the main square, surrounded by quaint cottages, originally alms houses. They underwent reconstruction in 1906 and since then no work further work has been actioned in the village, allowing its unspoilt Cotswolds charm to remain intact.
Visitors can spend leisurely days visiting Eyeford House, a favourite of Country Life Magazine. This elegant Cotswolds stately home was said to have inspired poet John Milton to pen his epic poem Paradise Lost.
As with its twin, Upper Slaughter also has some fine hotels and eateries with 17th century Lords of the Manor being listed as one of the Top 100 restaurants in Britain by the Sunday Times. They offer tasting menus for carnivores and vegans, an à la carte menu and a hearty Sunday roast if you simply fancy a trip out for lunch.