Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire, is one of the most attractive of all the villages that the River Windrush flows through. It is situated just off the main A40 road, 3 miles from Witney. The River Windrush winds its way through several famous Cotswold villages, including Burford and Bourton-on-the-Water. It is one of the most exclusive trout streams in the area. The main part of the village is ‘The Street’, a pretty road containing thatched cottages and houses built of Burford stone. The Rosery is an attractive cottage and also the Old Post House, which dates from the 17th century and was known as Lock’s Cottage for many years.
The Old Swan and Minster Mill is a half-timbered inn and hotel, dating from 1445. It is close to the bridge over the River Windrush and was a shelter for Welsh sheep drovers on their way to the markets of eastern England. It is owned by Peter de Savary, the well known international entrepreneur. The hotel has extensive gardens and terraces on the banks of the River Windrush. It is not unusual to see celebrities in the garden of this inn, enjoying its renowned hospitality.
At the eastern end of the village are the gaunt, but romantic ruins of the 15th century Minster Lovell Hall, once the home of the powerful Lovell family. The Hall was built about 1440, by William Lord Lovell. His grandson, Francis Lovell, supported Richard III in the Wars of the Roses. He was defeated by Henry VII, who declared him a traitor and confiscated his estates. After an unsuccessful rebellion and following the Battle of Stoke Field in 1487, Francis was reported to have been killed, but a local legend says that he returned to Minster Lovell and hid in a secret room known only to one servant. The servant died suddenly and Francis, unable to get out, starved to death. In 1708, when building repairs were being undertaken, the entire skeleton of a man seated at a table, was found in a hidden vault. In 1747, much of Minster Lovell Hall was dismantled by the owner, the Earl of Leicester and the materials sold locally as building materials. He wanted to raise money to build his great house at Holkham in Norfolk.
Standing just behind the Hall, is St. Kenelm’s Church, which was constructed in the 15th century on the site of an early 12th century building. It contains the alabaster tomb of William Lord Lovell, founder of the church.