Take a break from a hectic journey along the A40 and spend some time exploring the charming Cotswold market...
Perhaps most famous for the architectural jewel that is Blenheim Palace, Woodstock itself should not be overlooked as it is a place bursting with history and charm.
Acting as a ‘gateway’ to the Cotswolds, when you stay in a holiday cottage in Woodstock, you will experience how its royal connections stretch back to Saxon times and the Royal Palace of Woodstock (destroyed during the English Civil War) was popular with many of the medieval Kings.
Nowadays you’ll find an unspoilt, picturesque town full of historic buildings, some of which house a combination of innovative and traditional shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants. We’ve picked out a great selection of places to see, eat in and shop in during your stay here.
No visit to Woodstock would be complete without a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Blenheim Palace. In fact you’ll probably need a whole day to see all that a ticket buys you. You may know it as the birthplace of British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill (you can see the very room in which he was born), but it’s always been the home of the Dukes of Marlborough and in it, you’ll find a mind-boggling number of treasures on display as well as a great interactive exhibition – The Untold Story. Outside, why not jump on the palace’s own miniature railway to the pleasure gardens for the maze, adventure playground and butterfly house or take a leisurely stroll around the stunning formal gardens and parkland. Open every day except Christmas Day.
Tucked in next to the Oxfordshire Museum, this relatively recent addition to Woodstock takes visitors on a journey around the numerous connections the military has with the county. It’s a fascinating look into social history from the English Civil War to the present day, with numerous tales of courage and comradeship highlighted along the way. There are great activities aimed at children too. Open every day except Monday.
If you’re at your most content when wandering around a beautifully atmospheric garden, then Rousham’s (designed by William Kent) is the place for you. What you’ll find here are peaceful and well-maintained grounds with lots of unique details such as statues, pools and walled gardens. It’s the perfect spot for getting away from it all. Do take a picnic (there’s no restaurant or shop) and you’ll need to make sure you’ve brought cash with you to buy a ticket. NB under-15s only. Open all year round (house by appointment only).
For those of you who enjoy a spooky story or two, you’ll be hard pushed to find better during one of Bill Spectre’s infamous ghost trails. Weaving in and out of the towns’ streets, which provide a perfect backdrop for the tales of its more macabre and murky past, you’ll be transported away on an entertaining and humorous journey, all expertly led by Bill. Booking is essential.
Who doesn’t love browsing in (and buying from) a lovely independent bookshop? Well in Woodstock you won’t be disappointed when you stumble on this charming, friendly shop nestled on Oxford Street. Although there’s a good range of up-to-date fiction, they can order almost anything and have it ready for you the next day if there’s a particular book you’re after and you don’t find it on the shelves. Really great for kids as there’s a fantastic range of titles to suit all ages. Also worth checking out for the events they run during the year, including a poetry festival.
Want to find out more about Oxfordshire for free? Then this museum is the place to go to. Starting with a foot firmly planted in the age of the Dinosaurs, each collection tells you the story of the county via an amazing selection of treasures and artefacts taking you right up to the present day. You’ll see everything from Roman coins to the latest innovations and technology. Open every day except Monday.
Great for spending some time relaxing on a warm summer’s day, this heated, open-air lido can be found on the edge of the town. It’s surrounded by a large grassed area, perfect for picnics and for non-swimmers who might prefer to lounge in a deckchair. You’ll find a separate pool for the little ones, changing facilities and a small cafe on site. Open from April to September.
For the best cakes around, get along to the recently opened Barefoot Woodstock, the second shop in this tiny empire (the other is in Jericho, Oxford). Customers have nothing but praise for the delicious cakes, bakes and pastries on offer – and displayed so beautifully we might add. Great coffee and tea rounds off the experience and everything is available to eat in or takeaway. Not to be missed!
Now, here’s something you don’t find very often on the high street – a proper traditional tailor creating bespoke and made-to-measure clothing using British products. Clients come from far-flung destinations for their suits attracted by the competitive prices, the artistry and the fantastic personal service. Everything is crafted from nationally sourced fabrics, created from natural fibres only. Luxury that will last a lifetime!
Inspired by a Parisian art gallery which opened at the turn of the 20th century, Dantzig is an impressive, yet intimate gallery showcasing contemporary and modern art. You’ll find an eye-catching treasure trove of original artwork adorning the oak beamed walls, mostly prints and some from prestigious artists such as Picasso and Chagall. Great service from extremely knowledgeable and welcoming staff.
You’ll no doubt be drawn by the smell of freshly baked bread as you pass this great shop on High Street. Specialising in artisan bread made just down the road in their own bakery with the best ingredients from local producers, this family run business is one you won’t want to ignore. Fabulous cakes, pastries and great tea and coffee make this an essential stop on your trip around Woodstock. Top quality and all completely natural too.
Found on the banks on the River Glyme, The Black Prince boasts an enviable riverside location and is unsurprisingly popular during the summer months. Inside, you’ll find a lovely atmosphere greatly enhanced by the exposed beams and stone walls as well as an imposing suit of armour (probably not actually worn by the Black Prince!). For lunch you’ll find a range of sandwiches alongside pub classics and other delicious dishes which are available all day. Cask ales are frequently updated so you’ll not have to drink the same pint twice. Doggy friends are also made to feel very welcome!
If you’re looking for a traditional English pub set in a beautiful old Cotswold stone building, then the Woodstock Arms is worth a visit. On a cold winter’s day you’ll find a roaring log fire to welcome you whilst when the sun makes an appearance you might like to while away an hour or two in the delightful courtyard garden. You’ll find a good choice of quality pub grub on the menu and there’s an excellent range of cask ales on tap.
Opposite the museums, you’ll find the parish church of St Mary Magdalene which was originally built in the 11th century (an original Norman doorway is visible). What you see today is mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries and has been restored in the past couple of years. Unusually, the church has a musical clock – a tune is played four times a day and there’s a different one for each day of the week. Just outside the church you’ll find the town’s war memorial.
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