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The Wool Churches

These impressive churches owe their curious name to the thriving Cotswold wool industry of the 15th Century.

Stanway Church

Paid for by the wealthy wool merchants of the time, the churches tell much about the people who helped shape the history of the Cotswolds.

Medieval churches were not only places of worship but many were also a focal point for the communities in which they stood. It was in the churches that landlords collected their debts whilst merchants and traders haggled in the porches.

Several prominent churches were designed to accommodate these varied uses and some fascinating buildings resulted. For the stonemasons it was a chance to show off their skills; for wool merchants an opportunity to display their wealth.

Snowshill Church

Consequently, the wool churches boast some of the finest examples of medieval architecture to be found. Notable examples include St. Mary’s in Fairford where the magnificent stained glass windows form the UK’s only complete set of the period, and the North porch of St. Peter and St. Paul in Northleach is regarded by many as one of the best in England; its carvings disguising curiously impudent messages!

These churches are beautiful buildings and well worth a closer look to fully appreciate the wonderful craftsmanship that went into creating them.

The full day version of this tour covers about 90 miles visiting five of the main wool churches as well as some charming smaller chapels tucked away in their own delightful settings. With scenic routes throughout, it has wide appeal especially for historians and those with an interest in period architecture. It also makes a great rainy day tour.