It’s an English cliche, the ye olde England so many of us hanker after, a thatched cottage in an idyllic country village in the Cotswolds.
It is immortalised in the chocolate boxes, the postcards and through the tales and stories – Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple can take some of the blame.
It is a dream we all adore but would most of us want to to live in the tiny proportions of a one-up one-down cottage with thatch and an open fire?
Probably not full time which is exactly why many of the thousands of these old English workers’ cottages – now priced far out of an average workers’ wage – are rented as holiday cottages as they are an absolute dream for a holiday or a mini-break even Bridget Jones would approve of.
Which is what brought me to the village of Alderton in Gloucestershire, on the edge of protected Cotswolds area of natural beauty (AONB), and to the absolutely adorable Bell’s Cottage.
Rented via Laterooms.com though it can be booked direct, this black and white 500 year-old, Grade two listed, timber-framed cottage is the stuff dreams, romance and warm, fuzzy, period dramas are made of.
The beautiful village of Alderton, nine miles north of Cheltenham, is still and peaceful in the afternoon sunshine.
It’s the special sort of stillness reserved for the English countryside in summer that makes me think back to childhood holidays and the Famous Five. You have to sort of drink it in.
We wound our way round the peaceful village roads to the cottage which is placed on a quiet end of lane, opposite the quintessentially quaint 14th century St Margaret of Antioch’s medieval church.
You enter the cottage from the side door, through a porch and past the downstairs bathroom (originally there would not have been one at all) and into the kitchen.
Recently and sympathetically renovated ( we were some of the first guests) the original cottage, constructed of the traditional Cotswold stone, is a simple up and down terraced end cottage with one large bedroom up winding wooden stairs, boasting a wonderful four poster and the slightly uneven and creaking, floors, stairs and ceilings of a truly ancient building.
The sitting room boasts a stunning open fireplace, and a sofa which turns into a bed if needed.
This would originally have been the entire cottage but now a sympathetic extension provides a lovely country cottage kitchen complete with every mod con.
It’s beautiful despite its petite size and I got kitchen envy immediately. I mean, look… how adorable.
We were so lucky with the weather, it was perfect for appreciating the exquisitely planted cottage garden and enjoying coffee outside for breakfast.
Our hosts left us a lovely welcome basket packed with local produce so we felt right at home.
Handily, it is also a hop skip and jump from local pub The Gardeners Arms – you can nip across the churchyard for the five minute trek to the 16th century thatched public house.
The dog friendly pub is a favourite for passing tourists and locals but then there is only the one pub in the village! Understandably it’s popular.
We found the food reasonable and the staff lovely, you can sit yourself on outside tables, on squashy sofas or pub tables and they had an extensive menu of gins so I was quite happy.
The cottage is also perfectly places for walkers as the Winchcombe Way Trail passes right in front of the cottage and the Cotswold Way is at Stanway, four miles away.
It was hard to tear ourselves away from our cosy and photogenic base but Alderton is the perfect spot to drive across to some of the beautiful sites in the Cotswolds.
Having recently visited the picturesque market town of Stow-on -the wold 15 miles to the east ( go, it’s beautiful )we opted instead for the village of Broadway in next door county Worcestershire.
It is literally based around one ‘broad way’ and the ancient buildings and quaint shops and restaurants that line it are all a stunning honey coloured Cotswold stone – a quintessentially English scene on every corner.
Just outside Broadway is the famous Broadway Tower, the brainchild of the great 18th Century landscape designer, Capability Brown.
Blessed with a staggering location with views across the countryside, it completed in 1798 and you can climb the three floors and admire the views from the roof terrace- though sadly we rocked u as it was closing. No matter though it was still a fascinating visit.
Note: This was not a press trip on this occasion but a private visit made last minute on a whim! If you are interested in staying at Bells Cottage here is the website
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