Winchcombe is a Cotswold town, situated between Broadway and Cheltenham. It is a timeless place of yellow warm-toned stone cottages, exhibiting typical medieval architecture. The name Winchcombe, means “valley with a bend” and the town still retains streets that curve along the combe, meaning valley. It is claimed to be the walking capital of the Cotswolds and the town holds an annual walking festival, usually in May each year. Many footpaths, including the long distance routes, Wardens Way, Gloucestershire Way and Windrush Way, pass through, or are close to the town.
In the early 1600s, the Winchcombe area was known for tobacco growing, but it was banned in 1619 to avoid conflicts with America and other colonies. St. Peter’s Church in Gloucester Street, has forty of England’s finest grotesque gargoyles. It also has a weather vane in the shape of a cockerel, which is six feet tall.
Many visitors to Winchcombe will visit Sudeley Castle and Gardens, a fifteenth century privately owned castle close to the town. The tomb of Catherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII, is in St. Mary’s Church within the grounds of the Castle. She is the only English queen who is buried in private grounds. Henry VIII died on 28th January 1547 and Catherine married Sir Thomas Seymour a few weeks later, but the actual date is not known. She died on 5th September 1548, shortly after giving birth to Mary, a baby girl.
Sudeley Castle has featured in several television productions. St. Mary’s Church was used for the BBC period drama, Father Brown, in 2013. In the 1990s, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s, Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale, was filmed at Sudeley Castle. In 2008, some of the episodes of a television mini series of Thomas Hardy’s, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, was also filmed here.