It was the perfect Autumn morning the day we set off on our UK staycation. Bright blue skies, but with muted sunshine. A crisp bite in the air that all the best September days have. We were heading for The Cotswolds! A much longed for, much awaited trip. We were so excited to finally be off to see for ourselves this area of natural beauty. I had fallen in love with the area of The Slaughters, Cotswolds from it’s pretty pictures. I had been totally seduced by honey hued Cotswold stone cottages. My Pinterest board created for this trip was full of the promise of a picture postcard setting. I could not wait!
The Slaughters, Cotswolds
So, let me start with a little introduction to this gorgeous part of the UK. The Cotswolds are an area of around 2000 square kilometres in England. Located in the South Central and South West of the Country. With their breathtaking scenery of endless rolling hills, it is no wonder they are officially named as having the largest area of outstanding natural beauty in England and Wales.
The Slaughters really are the perfect base for exploring this part of The Cotswolds. Within easy reach of the larger towns, but also nestled amongst a plethora of other beautiful Cotswold towns and villages. Nik and I really wanted to stay in a quieter area that we could just relax in, after a day of exploring. We wanted to immerse ourself in village life, and Lower Slaughter, where we stayed, afforded us exactly that. So, let’s start there shall we?
But firstly, let us address the elephant in the room….the name. The Slaughters does not really conjure up images of quintessential English beauty right? Some of you may even be thinking Kerry, you are vegan, why pick there? I get it! However, The Slaughters is in no way linked to the modern meaning we give to the word now. The macabre picture we get in our head from that word needs to be chased from your mind. Historically, it was the way that “muddy places” was described. The word “Slouth” meant wet land. The twin villages of Lower and Upper Slaughter were apparently boggy and muddy back in the day, so were given this name. Not so bad now eh????
When we arrived in Lower Slaughter, I literally squealed with excitement. It was exactly how I thought it would be. To be fair, I had poured over enough photos of it so I kinda felt like I knew it anyway….It was like stepping into a picture book of old England. I was so happy!
Now, let me tell you a little about my home.. I mean my temporary home…ahem…
Lower Slaughter has over 1000 years of history of being a settlement. It is even mentioned in the Doomsday Book, but with the old English name of Sclostre. With a population of around 250 people, it really is a teeny village. It has an unspoilt, idyllic charm about it that I just loved. The soft caramel Cotswold stone cottages are traditional and look exactly how you would expect. No cat-fishing on Pinterest from this little village!
The River Eye runs through Lower Slaughter, adding to it’s good looks! As the village is built on both banks of the river, small footbridges cross it at various places in the village. The mill in the village is known to have been in existence since 1086. It was a working mill up until fairly recently. It became known as Slaughter Mill in the 14th century and is slowly being restored and brought back to life. A slow meander around the village will inevitably lead you to the mill. It seems to just draw you to it. The mill’s working water wheel creates the perfect soundtrack for the village with the gentle movement of the water.
Hotels in Lower Slaughter
There are not many places to stay in Lower Slaughter, which was part of it’s charm for us. Less hotels mean less crowds. You have two main hotels, plus a couple of private/Air Bnb places for hire. You can find details of all of them just here. The two main hotels in Lower Slaughter are;
The Slaughters Country Inn
This is where we stayed. I will give you my full and honest review on it very soon… The Slaughters Country Inn has a varied history. Originally a set of farm cottages in the 1400’s, before being converted into one house in the 1920’s. Soon after, it became a well heeled school, before finally becoming a hotel in the 1980’s. The Inn has 25 individually decorated rooms, and 6 private cottages.
The Slaughters Manor House
The Slaughters Manor House is just across the other side of the river from the Inn. Literally a 2 minute walk. It is a beautiful 17th Century Manor House, with gorgeous gardens and 19 individually decorated rooms. There are a choice of rooms from classic rooms, to garden suites.
Things to do in Lower Slaughter
As previously mentioned, The Slaughters, Cotswolds are not bustling towns. They are for those of you that want to have a more laid back, tranquil experience of The Cotswolds. There is still things that I would recommend that you do though. These are as follows;
Visit the Mill Museum – Learn the history of this corn mill, that so much of The Slaughters history is wrapped up in. You will get a snap shot of almost 1000 years of the Mill’s history and how it served village life. Afterwards, relax by the river with some hearty home cooking, or their famous “orgasmic ice-cream”…
Have afternoon tea – The Slaughters Manor House or The Slaughters Country Inn both serve afternoon tea. Sit by the river and eat delicate finger sandwiches before diving in to the clotted cream and jam scones.
Walk along by the river – Stop to admire the gorgeous Church of St Mary. Have a stroll around the beautiful Grade II listed church and admire the architecture.
Walk to Bourton on the Water – You can easily walk to the picturesque town of Bourton on the Water in around half an hour. The walk will take you along the river and straight into the town. It is a lovely walk and I fully recommend it.
Top tip – Do the walk to Bourton early. The town does attract a lot of tourists, so get’s very busy. I would recommend setting off ideally before 9 to enjoy Bourton on the Water at it’s beautiful best.
Walk to Upper Slaughter – This gentle walk will take you around 10 minutes. It is through the gorgeous countryside of The Slaughters, and is suitable for all. You will see the stunning rear facade of The Lords of the Manor hotel to your left. Let your imagination wander to your life as Lady of the Manor…..
That lovely walk brings us nicely to Upper Slaughter. The even quieter twin of Lower Slaughter! Upper Slaughter has the privilege of being one of only 14 villages in England to be named a “doubly thankful village”. It got this title as it lost no men in either world war 1 or 2. A great title to have right?
In my opinion, Upper Slaughter is The Cotswolds how I imagine it to be before we all wanted to visit the area! It’s buttery coloured cottages nestle in gardens of English roses. The ford, (where the road crossing is covered by a shallow stretch of the stream) does a great job of making it even more picturesque.
The charm of Upper Slaughter lies in its buildings and unspoilt village feel. It feels unhurried and sleepy. The birds sing from the trees. The dull hum of a tractor can just be heard in the distance. The locals smile as they pass you. It truly feels like a step back into more mindful living and times. Nowhere to be, nothing to do but enjoy this quaint English village.
We sat in the sunshine by the river. A beautiful black Labrador was living his best life retrieving a stick being tossed in by his owner into the stream. I took off my shoes to cool off in the stream, the water of which was crystal clear. It was heaven.
Where to stay in Upper Slaughter
Upper Slaughter is an escape from hurried lives. It only has one main hotel, which is the gorgeous 17th Century, Lord of the Manor Hotel. This privately owned house turned hotel, has 26 rooms, and a side order of history! It was owned by King Henry VIII and purchased from him by The Slaughter Family. Now, this beautiful manor house welcomes guests to its luxury rooms and 8 acres of gardens.
Tea at The Lord of The Manor
When we spotted the manor House on our walk from Lower to Upper Slaughter, we were captivated. It is a beautiful building. It had an olde world charm about it. We loved the idea of sitting in the grounds, enjoying the September sunshine that we were lucky enough to have. We decided to book for cream tea, (well, Nik had cream tea, I had tea and vegan cake) on the lawn during our stay in The Slaughters.
if you know me, you know my love of all the Britishness of afternoon tea! It made us feel so fancy and I would recommend it fully. The sun was shining, we were looking out over the extensive grounds and drinking tea from a delicate china cup and saucers. Yep, village life is for me….
In Summary – The Slaughters, Cotswolds
So, what do you think? Do you agree that Lower Slaughter is in the running for “prettiest village in England”? We saw a lot of villages on our road trip of The Cotswolds, and I have to agree that it is certainly up there. You can see where else we visited in this post – 8 Places to Visit in the Cotswolds.
The Slaughters, although quiet and demure, were perfect for our early Autumn break. We settled into village life very easily and a slow stroll around Lower Slaughter after dinner was how we finished each day. The gentle babble of the stream. The history of the old mill. The beautifully tended gardens. The golden hue of the buildings all combined somehow to create a little slice of magic. I feel so very lucky that we got to experience this little sample of traditional Cotswolds life. You can also have a day out to Sudeley Castle and Gardens from here too! I would recommend it.