Hailes Abbey

The ruins of Hailes Abbey enjoy a beautiful and tranquil setting in quiet seclusion in the Cotswolds near Winchcombe.

Hailes Abbey
Hailes Abbey

Hailes Abbey was founded in 1246 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III. He had been caught in a storm at sea and, upon threat of his ship going down, he vowed to God that if he survived, he would found a religious house.

Upon returning to land he kept his vow. Henry granted him the manor of Hailes and with the help of monks from Beaulieu Abbey, in five years Hailes Abbey was built.

The site was consecrated in 1251 in the presence of Henry III, Queen Eleanor of Provence, and 13 bishops, among others.

The Abbey would probably have remained a relatively unimportant place but in around 1270 the monks claimed to have a phial said to contain the “blood of Christ” and supposedly authenticated by the Pope. Such a potent religious symbol meant the abbey could set themselves up as a place of pilgrimage.

A special extension to the east end of the abbey church was built and the phial was kept in an elaborate shrine. Soon Hailes Abbey became one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in England and the faithful flocked in their thousands to pay homage to the sacred phial. A hotel was even built by the Prior to accommodate the wealthier visitors and to attend to their need for somewhere to stay.

Chaucer mentions the abbey and the phial in The Pardoner’s Tale (one of The Canterbury Tales) written between 1387 and 1400. The theme of the tale is said to be “greed is the root of all evil”!

The Abbey was closed in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the phial with the so-called “blood of Christ” which had brought pilgrims for centuries was smashed. The phial was found to contain a mixture of honey and saffron.

After the Dissolution, Hailes Abbey was given to Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s sixth wife) and was subsequently passed down through the family. By the 18th Century, the site was overgrown and decaying.

Hailes Abbey today is a tranquil place of dramatic cloister arches which give an idea of how impressive the site must have been when it was built and as it grew in importance as a leading pilgrimage destination. Around the site, sheep graze contentedly and because it is a relatively unappreciated place, it is often possible to have the ruins all to yourself.

The site is owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage.

You can walk among the evocative ruins of Hailes Abbey and imagine how the medieval monks once lived in its extensive and elaborate buildings. The museum contains sculptures, stonework and other finds from the site. The church (by the car park) pre-dates the Abbey by about 100 years and is well worth a visit to see the magnificent wall-paintings.

There are only limited facilities at the site but if you follow the lane, about 500 yards further down is Hayles Fruit Farm and they have a little cafe.

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast is located in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. Contact us on 01386 853681 or visit www.appletreebroadway.co.uk for details and availability.

Perennial delights

BadseyNursery03We have a wonderful free magazine called Cotswold Country Gardener and in it I found an advert for a plant nursery near me called Cotswold Garden Flowers. What a find!

It’s approached through the village of Wickhamford (lovely old village centre) and then you head down a narrow country lane.

First impression was great, they have display gardens too. They have taken full advantage of their land to create show borders featuring many perennials to reflect their stock. At the time I visited (late March), the hellebores were making a great display but wherever you looked there was something unusual peeping out at you.

BadseyNursery01There are greenhouses and polytunnels displaying the plants for sale and the selection was astounding. I’d recently been having trouble finding Bears Breeches but they had several varieties. This was also the case for euphorbia,  heucheras and many other choice perennials. The selection of succulents was very tempting.

I’ll be visiting Cotswold Garden Flowers again and if you are looking for something that little bit unusual,  I suggest you do too!

Cotswold Garden Flowers is located about 4 miles from Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast, Broadway, so an ideal base when visiting them. 

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast is located in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. Contact us on 01386 853681 or visit www.appletreebroadway.co.uk for details and availability.

Courses in the Cotswolds

There are some wonderful training courses available in this area of the Cotswolds so I thought I would pull together a few as a sample of what is available.

Little Soap School

The Little Soap School runs day courses in the art of making soap. There are a few different courses including soap making and an introduction to making natural creams and balms. We have had a couple of guests attending the soap making course and they came back with a box of all the gorgeously scented soaps they had made during the day and full of enthusiasm for what they could do with their newly learned skill. Based in Broadway.

School of Millinery

School of Millinery student’s work


Ever fancied trying hat making? Courses are for all levels from beginners and the experienced in the art of Traditional Couture Millinery. There are a selection of 2 and 3 day courses available throughout the year whether you want to try making a fascinator, tiara, beret, pillbox or tiny top hats, there is lots of choice. Based in Badsey, about 4 miles from Broadway.

Honeybourne Pottery

Honeybourne Pottery have a range of ceramics for sale but more importantly you can have a go yourself. You can try working with clay either on the potters’ wheel, model your own masterpiece at the table or ceramic painting. There are 75 minute potters’ wheel taster sessions which could be just the thing to see whether you have a hidden talent. Based in Honeybourne, about 2 miles from Broadway.

Drive a Steam Train

GWR March 2016

Every little boy’s dream used to be to drive a steam train. Now everyone who used to be a little boy (or girl) can live that dream at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. You can choose to drive and fire a steam train or drive a diesel train, so for an experience you will remember this could be the one for you! How about as a gift for that special someone whilst you relax in the Brake Coach.

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast is located in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. Contact us on 01386 853681 or visit www.appletreebroadway.co.uk for details and availability.

Stratford upon Avon

View of Stratford-upon-Avon church
View of Stratford-upon-Avon church

Stratford-upon-Avon doesn’t need any introduction really; it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and has a wealth of history, a world-renowned theatre and some great shops!

Firstly, how to get there. Stratford-upon-Avon is about 15 miles from Broadway. You can catch a bus to escape the car for a day, but for drivers the easiest way is to park at the Park-and-Ride. We use the one at the Rosebird centre next to Waitrose. It is a beautiful drive up through the villages of Willersey and Mickleton. Parking currently costs £1 for the day so is very reasonably priced but make sure you park in the public car park not the Waitrose car park. You can then catch the bus into Stratford-upon-Avon but I prefer to walk. There is a footpath along a former railway track which makes a lovely stroll.

Footpath to Stratford upon Avon
Footpath to Stratford upon Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon has a large number of things to keep you busy for the day. There are five family homes related to William Shakespeare, probably the most important of which is the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which is based in the house where

Birthplace Trust
Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare grew up. The other museums are Ann Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens (Shakespeare’s wife), Mary Arden’s Farm (Shakespeare’s mother), Hall’s Croft (the home of Shakespeare’s daughter and her husband) and Harvard House. Harvard House is a few hundred metres from New Place, a house bought by Shakespeare in 1596. New Place and Nash’s House are currently closed for conservation.

As the various houses cover the different generations of the Shakespeare family, they also offer an insight into how times were changing. There is a shuttle bus which runs between the different houses and you can get a joint entry ticket which also gives you entry into the chancel where Shakespeare is buried in Holy Trinity Church, which is where he was baptised.

MAD Museum
MAD Museum

Also worth a look in Stratford-upon-Avon is the MAD Museum which stands for Mechanical Art and Design. Watch the balls roll and bounce through the exhibits, see the ones which trick the eyes and you can play with some of the exhibits too.

There are a wide range of shops with some of the larger brand stores but lots of smaller shops too offering a selection of items with good cookery shops, book shops, craft shops and perfumeries, together with clothes shops and shoe shops.

Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre
Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre

And after that you may need a sit down! There are also lots of tea shops so a cream tea may be in order, possibly a matinée at the theatre, or how about a pint of bitter at the Old Thatch Tavern, the only remaining thatched building in Stratford-upon-Avon dating back to 1470.

After such a busy day, head back to Broadway for a peaceful evening in a beautiful Cotswold village.

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast is located in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. Contact us on 01386 853681 or visit www.appletreebroadway.co.uk for details and availability.

Batsford Arboretum – not just trees

Batsford Arboretum - Hellebores
Batsford Arboretum – Hellebores

Thought it was about time we visited Batsford Arboretum. An arboretum is all about the trees; it is a little early for the trees to look at their best but when the trees are leafless, you can see the beautiful silhouette of the trees and there is the promise of lots to come with buds fattening up.

Even in the car park, there was a hint of what was to come with a selection of dogwoods with their different coloured stems and just inside the entrance there was a beautiful border full of snowdrops, hellebores and other Spring flowering plants.

Batsford Church
Batsford Church

The route around the Arboretum starts with a good path, with interesting diversions. The first diversion we took headed off through the woods to a small waterfall you can walk under. The track rejoined the main path which takes you past the mansion house. The house isn’t open to the public but makes a good focal point for the gardens. In the field at the back of the mansion we saw a herd of deer. We then headed towards the church; there is a small village which presumably housed the estate workers and a typically quaint church.

The remains of the old ice house are still present and it is slowly turning itself into a fernery.

Batsford Arboretum - Deer
Batsford Arboretum – Deer

Heading up the Arboretum, there is a japanese style house which contains a history of the site and the Japanese connection. There is a collection of japanese plants in this area including quite a few bamboos and acers.

There is a little stream running down the hill which should look delightful later in the year.  There are a number of statues around the site including Daphne (the greek nymph associated with streams), Buddha, a dragon and deer.

Visiting so early in the year, the magnolias and other flowering trees will have to wait for another visit, but the hellebores were abundant together with other

Batsford Arboretum - Hellebores and Cyclamen
Batsford Arboretum – Hellebores and Cyclamen

spring flowers such as cyclamen, snowdrops and daffodils.

Batsford Arboretum is about 9 miles from Apple Tree House so makes only a short journey away. The Cotswold Falconry Centre is on the same site so you could visit that as well for something completely different.

Further information about Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast and details on availability can be found at www.appletreebroadway.co.uk


A stroll before lunch, and back again …

Broadway Golf course Tree stump
Broadway Golf course Tree stump

There are lots of good walks from Broadway and this time we decided to head towards Saintbury and Willersey. We wanted to walk along the old railway track which is the route back.

From Broadway, we headed down the High Street, beyond the little roundabout into Upper High Street and there is a footpath on the left signposted for Saintbury Church. There is a gravel road first of all and then across a couple of fields uphill towards Broadway Golf Course. The footpath skirts around the outside of the golf course with wonderful views of Willersey and the Vale of Evesham.

Footpath from Saintbury to Willersey
Footpath from Saintbury to Willersey

The footpath leads across another couple of fields before bringing you out by Saintbury Church. The Church was locked on the day we went past but you can contact the local key holder if you would like a look inside. Saintbury Church has a magnificent position on the crest of the hill with the village immediately below it. The walk goes back into the field and skirts around Saintbury village; you can see Willersey church from this point which is your next landmark.

The Bell Inn, Willersey
The Bell Inn, Willersey

Walking down the hill, you go across several fields and through several kissing gates before coming out by the church in the village of Willersey. The church was one of those intimate country churches which are always a delight to have a peak inside. From the church, follow the lane into the village centre.

There are at least 2 places for lunch here and we choose The Bell Inn on this occasion. The Bell had a good selection of beers and we were happy with our choice for food; we both had Mussels to start followed by belly pork and a crab pasta dish.

Footpath from Willersey to Broadway
Footpath from Willersey to Broadway

It is from Willersey that you can join the old railway track to walk back into Broadway. The lady in The Bell kindly gave us directions as to where to join the railway track and off we went. The old railway track makes a nice flat walk back and made a very quick and easy walk.

A lovely day out with a lovely lunch in the middle.

Textiles, beauty and colour

Beckford Silk

The wool trade is a well-known factor of English life and English history and most people will have visited a woollen mill at some point to find out how the wool goes from the sheep to a jumper on our backs.

A lesser known old cottage industry was silk. The Chinese managed to keep the mystery of silk to themselves for many centuries; the secret eventually got out and silk mills popped up all over the Cotswolds. The one in Broadway has disappeared but just down the road is Beckford Silk.

Beckford Silk has an impressive gallery and shop. There is a display of printing blocks together with samples of the different types of silk with an invitation to touch them – they are wonderfully tactile and I didn’t realise how many materials came from silk. You can learn about the history of silk both worldwide and locally in the Cotswolds.

Beckford Silk

There are also guided tours so you can see how the printing and dyeing of the silk is done. The scarves are still finished by hand by local craftspeople before returning to the shop to add to their colourful display of scarves, ties and clothing. For those brave enough to be able to handle silk, the haberdashery has a wonderful selection of fabrics to choose from.

And after browsing the shop, how about a welcome cup of tea at their Coffee Shop!


Beckford Silk is about 8 miles from Broadway. Apple Tree B&B makes an excellent base to visit Beckford Silk and the many other attractions of the Cotswolds.

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast is located in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. Contact us on 01386 853681 or visit www.appletreebroadway.co.uk for details and availability.

What a Folly………


I suspect that a Folly is predominantly a British phenomena.  There is a saying that “An Englishman’s Home is his Castle” and that is as true today as ever.

However in times gone by those who were lucky enough to live in Castles or Grand Mansion Houses seemed to want more.  So they built what became know as ‘Follies” in their grounds.  Often they were just a building, some times just a shell, that was built at a point where they felt it added to the beauty of the landscape or interest when viewed from the comfort of their home.

Sometime the fashion for a Folly became more serious, a building that was basic but that was able to be used for picnics, entertaining or even clandestine meetings. Most  were simply decorative and varied in the scale of there grandeur……and mainly were just built on the whim of the wealthy owner.

Broadway Tower has been called…

View original post 264 more words

Cirencester – capital of the Cotswolds

Cirencester - Cecily Hill
Cirencester – Cecily Hill

As we are located in Broadway in the Cotswolds, we are ideally placed to visit a number of interesting towns. Stratford-upon-Avon is on our doorstep, together with Cheltenham, and other smaller towns such as Worcester and Warwick. However, today we visited Cirencester which is called the capital of the Cotswolds.

Cirencester is about 28 miles away or 45 minutes; it is a nice easy drive and there is plenty of interest both in Cirencester and along the way.

Cirencester’s most well-known attraction is the Corinium Museum which reflects the town’s Roman history; you could add to this aspect by visiting the Chedworth Roman Villa along the way.

The town centre is dominated by the Parish Church which is medieval; I noticed the porch ceiling and apparently it is known for its perpendicular porch. From there, it is worth finding the Visitor Centre which is located in the Corinium Museum and getting a copy of either the Town Trail or the Whereat Trail. We found the Trail leaflets rather belatedly so we just went exploring and by wandering round the back streets, we found some lovely little alleyways. From the Visitor Centre, we asked about the interesting and massive gateway opposite with a very high hedge behind and were told it was the gateway to Cirencester Park. We’ve since discovered the hedge is the tallest yew hedge in the world.

Cirencester Park
Cirencester Park

The lady at the Visitor Centre advised us to walk round the corner from the gateway up to Cecily Hill to gain access to the park itself, so off we went. As you walk up Cecily Hill, there is a mini castle! Known as Cecily Hill Castle, it looks medieval but was actually built in Victorian times as a barracks. It makes a suitably impressive entrance to Cirencester Park.

The Park has an impressive set of gates and some lovely houses opposite the ‘castle’ and a footpath stretching into the distance. The footpath is called The Broad Avenue and runs a total of 5 miles. When planted, the trees lining the Avenue on each side were chosen for seasonal colour by Lord Bathurst, the owner of the estate, and his friend Alexander Pope, a leading figure in gardening and architecture circles of the time. Today, the vista was what caught the attention with the pathway drawing us along, and we plan to go back in the Spring for the seasonal colour.

Heading back to the ‘castle’, we went round another corner and found an interesting little river walk. The water was as clear as could be and we found an open-air swimming pool. Not open today but apparently it opens from May to September, when it is heated – having a swim in the fresh air sounds a great way to spend a Summer’s afternoon. From there, we wandered on towards Dollar Street and headed back towards the town centre via Black Jack Street.

Cirencester - church
Cirencester – church

The shops in the town centre are mainly independents which give them lots of character, with only a few of the chains visible. We found a lovely coffee shop called Cotswolds Artisan Coffee on Bishops Walk – from the church head down the road opposite called Cricklade Street – serving quality coffee and tea with a selection of delicious sounding soups, paninis and cakes. ‘Delicious sounding’ simply because we couldn’t sample them all this time round but next time …

After an interesting hour or two exploring the shops, it was time to head back to Broadway. Leaving Cirencester, the A429 takes you most of the way with excellent views of the Cotswolds countryside. The road takes you up to Stow-on-the-Wold first of all and then you branch off left sign posted for Evesham, and the road takes you straight to Broadway.

A great day out from Broadway.

Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast is located in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds. Contact us on 01386 853681 or visit www.appletreebroadway.co.uk for details and availability.

Author: Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast, Broadway, Cotswolds

A surefire way to neglect your blog…

The Little Bean

…is to take over a coffee shop. Yes we did it, John and I are the proud owners of a coffee shop in the heart of the Cotswolds, Broadway to be exact. A concept I still can’t get my head around. Going from a couple of twenty something’s in a cold flat, working long hours in the service industry with only our dreams of our own shop and GeorgeClarke’sAmazingSpaces keeping us company. Now only one of us is a twenty something, in a new home, working long hours in the service industry…but this time it’s all ours. We’ve kept George Clarke close, we still have many adventures to tackle.


View original post