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