It’s been a much longer gap than usual since my last post. I wish I could blame it on an extended vacation, but that would be false. There’s still cause for excitement, however, because a certain anglophile – ahem, that would be me – has been busy finalizing the addition of the new United Kingdom gallery to our online store. For a link to our opening installment of 90 eclectic images, please click here.
Time for a quick geography lesson. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – more commonly known as the UK – is a sovereign state consisting of four countries. Three of them – England, Scotland, and Wales – are on the island of Great Britain while the fourth, Northern Ireland, is on the island of Ireland along with the Republic of Ireland (which, unlike the UK, is still part of the European Union). For partner Carol and me, then, it’s “two down, two to go” since we haven’t yet visited either Wales or Northern Ireland.
But for right now, let’s focus on the Cotswolds.
Covering almost 800 square miles in parts of six different counties, the Cotswolds is a region in south central England that was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966. (AONB refers to rural areas in the UK that have been designated for conservation to ensure quiet enjoyment of the countryside.) If you want to explore quaint, honey-colored villages and market towns built with the distinctive local yellow limestone, or sip pints in ancient pubs, or see some of Great Britain’s most beautifully preserved medieval churches and stately homes, then add the Cotswolds to your bucket list. The area truly lives up to its billing of being quintessentially English, where “time has stood still for 300 years.”
The featured image depicts the main drag – and yes, I use that term loosely – of Castle Combe (pop. 350), which is often called “England’s Prettiest Village.” By the Middle Ages the town had become an important center for the wool industry, with spinsters and weavers living in its cottages and the local river – still known as By Brook – providing the power to run the mills. In pandemic times, a survey recently named Castle Combe one of the top places in the UK to live and work from home (though given its miniscule population, that sounds like a pretty small sample size).
For centuries the region’s way of life was defined by sheep and the extremely high quality of their fine wool. Indeed, the name Cotswolds is thought to be derived from sheep – “cots” means sheep enclosure while “wolds” are gentle hills. Cotswolds wool was a highly profitable European export by medieval times, so much so that it was said “half the wealth of England rides on the back of a sheep.” Nowadays, grazing sheep are still ubiquitous – and as shown by the next image, they definitely seem to be a curious lot.
Towns in the UK often have fascinating names, and the Cotswolds is no exception. While Lower Slaughter (shown below) may sound ominous, this tiny, unspoiled village’s name derives from the Old English term “slough” meaning “wet land.”
The British have always loved a good folly, which is defined as a costly ornamental building serving no practical purpose. The Broadway Tower – also known as “the Highest Little Castle in the Cotswolds” – fits this description to a tee. Built in the late 18th century as a Gothic folly to add romance and interest to the landscape for the 6th Earl of Coventry, the tower stands 62 feet high and offers wonderful views over 16 counties.
Our last image depicts the Pulteney Bridge crossing the River Avon in the city of Bath, which is located in the southernmost part of the Cotswolds (and just a 90-minute train ride from London). Its main claim to fame are the Roman Baths, one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe dating back to 60-70 A.D. Always way ahead of their time, the Romans took advantage of the natural thermal springs in the area by developing a sophisticated spa complex, whose well-preserved structures help Bath annually draw over one million tourists.
All of our UK images are available in different mediums, including metal, canvas, and fine art acrylic prints. The sizes available at our online store range from 15×30 (panoramic) to 24×36 (standard) – but for more options, please feel free to contact us by email or phone. We also have a wonderful assortment of matted prints at our brick-and-mortar store on Bainbridge Island. Since Carol and I love visitors, please drop by if you happen to be in our neck of the woods! In the meantime, we hope everyone is staying healthy and safe as the world continues to navigate through these tricky times.
Cheers for now,
Andrew (“Andy”) Bergh