Bourton-on-the-Water is a village alongside the Fosse Way Roman Road (A429) in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England. The village is famous for its picturesque High Street, and with its many attractions, which include the gently flowing River Windrush, it is a popular tourist resort.
The market towns of Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold lie to the north of the village, with Burford to the south east, and the Regency spa town of Cheltenham to the west. Close by are the picturesque villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, while to the east lie the villages of Upper Rissington, Wyck Rissington, Lower Rissington and last but not least Great Rissington.
Bourton-on-the-Water village centre is a site to behold - the River Windrush flows alongside the High Street, spanned by low hump backed bridges, and indeed the village is known as the 'Venice of the Cotswolds'. The High Street may stretch just a thousand yards from Lansdowne to Rissington Road - yes small - but perfectly formed, but within that thousand yards the historic village centre has many buildings in the characteristic yellow limestone of the Cotswolds, and almost every building is of 17th Century origin. The houses and shops are constructed with embellishments that make Cotswold architecture so picturesque: projecting gables, string-courses, windows with stone mullions and stone hood moulds over the doors.
Bourton is an excellent shopping centre and there are a number of tea rooms, gift shops, antique shops, pubs and restaurants. However when you are looking for a seat in one of the crowded riverside tearooms you may begin to wonder whether the official figure of just 3,297 inhabitants can possibly be correct!
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
The Cotswold Hills are a popular walking destination and the countryside around Bourton-on-the-Water is no exception with several major trails - the Gloucester Way, Macmillan Way, Monarch's Way, the Diamond Way, the Oxfordshire Way and the Heart of England Way all converging on the small town of Bourton. Those feeling less energetic can always take the shorter circular loop walks to the picturesque villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, within just a few miles of Bourton on the Water.
Bourton on the Water is also an ideal place to begin a cycle tour of the Cotswolds. Hartwells Cycle Hire on the High Street have a huge choice of mountain bikes, hybrid and touring cycles, and even two tandems. They provide route maps, which will help you to discover the delights of the Cotswolds.
The history of Bourton-on-the-Water stretches back to the Neolithic period (4000 B.C.), and the remains of the nearby Salmonsbury Camp give evidence of an Iron Age fort, and Roman pottery and coins discovered in the village give clear evidence of Roman occupation.
The Fosse Way, a Roman road that linked Exeter in the southwest of England to Lincoln in the northeast, bounds the parish of Bourton-on-the-Water to the northwest.
By the 11th century a Christian church was established and the village had developed along the River Windrush much as it is today.
The small historic core of Bourton-on-the-Water along with associated areas along the River Windrush have been designated a UK Conservation Area and English Heritage designates 117 buildings within Bourton-on-the-Water as having Grade II or higher listed status.
The Cotswold Motoring Museum :
Cotswold Motoring Museum is a truly fascinating journey through the 20th Century. Overflowing with vintage and classic cars and caravans, precarious looking motorcycles, original enamel signs and an intriguing collection of motoring curiosities, it is a genuinely captivating experience for all the family. The Museum boasts seven galleries packed with vehicles and memorabilia, with sounds and smells from the days of the blacksmith through to the era of heavy metal and glam rock. Looking around the Cotswold Motoring Museum it is impossible not to be impressed by the ingenuity of engineers who, in such a short time, developed the motor car from a simple chain-driven box on wheels to the complex machines we drive today.
Bourton has a number of tourist attractions including : Bourton Model Village, the Bourton Model Railway, the previously mentioned Cotswold Motoring Museum, Birdland Park and Gardens, Leisure centre with Pool and the Riding Stables.
Birdland Park and Gardens:
Birdland was established in 1957 and is located in the heart of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire. Birdland Park has a collection of birds, from penguins through parrots to passerine (perching) birds and a large pond full of salmon which can be fed by the public. There are bird-of-prey displays and a penguin feeding demonstration. Birdland is a natural setting inhabited by over 500 birds from around the world, including the only King Penguins in England and over 50 aviaries of parrots, falcons, pheasants, hornbills, toucans, pigeons, ibis and many more. Covering about 7 acres the whole landscape has been developed around the River Windrush and the 150 Poplar trees.
Bourton Model Village :
The Model Village is a one-ninth scale replica of the heart of the beautiful Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, containing all the buildings from the Old Water Mill down to the Old New Inn and the ford.
Bourton Model Village has always been famous for it's miniature bonsai type trees, which are carefully pruned to keep them to scale.
The village was created by a previous landlord of the Old New Inn, taking local craftsmen five years to build, and it was officially opened on the Coronation Day of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the late Queen Mother) in 1937.
Bourton Model Railway:
Enter the world of your childhood dreams with some of the finest operating indoor model railway layouts in the country, covering over 500 square feet. Over 40 British and Continental trains run automatically on three main displays of OO/HO and N gauge, with the unique attraction of visitor control. Follow the trains' journey through the imaginatively designed scenery of open countryside, mountains, steams, industrial sites and suburbia. Watch day change to night, experience the fun of the fair and generally enjoy the attractive illusion of colour and movement enhanced by many working model accessories.
Bourton Farmers Market:
Bourton Farmers market is a bustling place every 4th Sunday of the month. It has a huge variety of interesting stalls selling fresh, local produce. The stallholders sell everything from fresh meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, eggs, pickles, cakes, cheese, garlic and ice-cream. Held at the Country Wide Car Park.
Bourton-on-the-Water Football Match in the River
Each August bank holiday Monday the 'Bourton-on-the-Water Football Match in the River' takes place in the River Windrush. Goalposts are set up in the river, crowds line the riverbanks, and two teams from Bourton Rovers' Football Club play with the aim to score as many goals as possible (while getting everyone else as wet as possible). A fete is usually held from 11am, with the football match kicking-off at 4pm.
The Church of St Lawrence is situated in the Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire. The present building is a combination of several styles including the distinctive Georgian domed clock tower and a Victorian nave and this odd mixture of styles have resulted in a pleasant and interesting building.
1110 AD saw the construction of the first stone church of Norman design.
The only remaining visible part of the old church is the chancel, built in 1328 by Walter de Burhton. In 1784, the Norman church was largely replaced with one in the neo-classical style, with a new tower with clock and bells, still standing today.
Further change came in the 19th Century with the construction of the present nave, the North Aisle and St George's chapel. Externally there is an interesting stone carving of a skull and crossbones above a doorway to the tower, and the churchyard has some typical Cotswold 'bale tombs', carved to resemble bales of wool.
Accommodation and Services
There is a wide selection of accommodation in Bourton-on-the-Water, from small bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels and holiday cottages with self catering facilities.