In addition to a grand royal castle, this Cotswold town has quaint teahouses, award-winning restaurants, hiking trails and a scenic train journey.
Winchcombe is a tranquil market town framed by the stunning Cotswold Hills. Once the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, it grew to be an important medieval trading town and welcomed famous kings during the Tudor years. Today, Winchcombe’s ancient ruins, castle and mellow-hued stone houses showcase its celebrated past. Use the town as a starting point to walk throughout the Cotswold countryside.
One Winchcombe highlight is the 15th-century Sudeley Castle. Walk where Richard III, Henry VIII and Charles I, among other British kings, passed. See the tomb of Katherine Parr, paintings by old masters, 16th-century tapestries and Roman antiquities. Wander around a series of expertly manicured gardens and enjoy picnics on lush green lawns.
Stroll along the town center streets and admire the rows of half-timbered houses and stone mansions. Several double as cafés, craft shops and teahouses while others are still private residences. Browse exhibits about local social history and displays of British police memorabilia at the Winchcombe Museum. Spot 40 grotesque gargoyles, Saxon coffins and a cloth stitched by Catherine of Aragon at St. Peter’s Church.
A short drive from the town center are more reminders of bygone eras. Admire the ruins of Hailes Abbey, a Cistercian pilgrimage site. Visit Belas Knap, a Neolithic burial chamber thought to date back to about 3800 B.C.
Rejoice in the selection of dining options, which range from medieval pubs to traditional fish and chip shops. The Lion Inn opened in the 1400s and 5 North Street is a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Explore deeper into the Cotswolds via marked walking trails. The Winchcombe Way is a 42-mile (68-kilometer) figure eight route around the town and its surrounding hills. Follow the Cotswolds Way to Cleeve Hill and the Gloucestershire Way to the Tudor town of Tewkesbury. Alternatively, ride the GWR Steam Railway from nearby Toddington to Cheltenham.
Winchcombe is 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Cheltenham. Combine your visit with a tour of storybook villages such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Camden.