With so many families looking to move away from big cities and head to the countryside, it’s no surprise that moving to the Cotswolds is high on many people’s wish lists.
As well as an idyllic rural environment, the area boasts incredible schools, bundles of family attractions, a fascinating history and gorgeous properties – with SoGlos sharing 10 reasons to consider the Cotswolds as the place to raise your family.
Rendcomb College in Cirencester is a leading independent co-educational day and boarding school welcoming children aged three to 18, with the aim to develop thoughtful, adventurous and academically ambitious young people.
Surrounded by parkland with its very own forest school, children studying at Rendcomb have the opportunity to get involved with sport, music, drama, the arts and outdoor education alongside core academic subjects, as well as benefitting from a strong pastoral care system to help nurture their physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing.
For more information, visit rendcombcollege.org.uk.
The Cotswolds is home to plenty of outstanding schools, with leading independent school, Rendcomb College near Cirencester, providing an excellent education that takes full advantage of the surrounding Cotswolds countryside with its forest school. There’s Westonbirt School in Tetbury and Hatherop Castle Preparatory School in Cirencester, too.
There are also a number of Ofsted-rated outstanding primary schools, such as Blue Coat C of E Primary, Chipping Campden School, The Cotswold Academy and The Rissington School.
Spending lots of time immersed in nature has a myriad of benefits for children, from lower stress to increased creativity, so the Cotswolds is an ideal location for families to put down roots.
The Cotswolds AONB boasts everything from magical woodlands to sweeping vistas of unspoilt countryside, offering plenty of opportunities to experience that sense of awe that only nature can provide.
With such beautiful countryside to explore all around, the Cotswolds gives families a chance to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, with plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the fresh air.
For walkers, the area is patterned with routes, the most famous being The Cotswold Way which stretches 102 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath and takes in some of the area’s most beautiful sites, including Broadway Tower, Cleeve Hill, Painswick Beacon and Dyrham Park.
The Cotswolds also has an incredible reputation for farming and producing exceptional local produce, like award-winning Cotswold Gold rapeseed oil; artisan Cotswold ice cream from Winstones on Rodborough Common; truffle-infused everything from Truffle Hunter in South Cerney; award-winning charcuterie from The Cotswold Curer; and organic, seasonal vegetables, fresh meat and fish, artisan bread and award-winning cheese from Daylesford in Moreton-in-Marsh, which has become a household name countrywide.
From chocolate box cottages, detached country houses to modern barn conversions, the Cotswolds offers a wide range of property choices for house hunters, with detached family homes proving the most popular.
According to Rightmove, the average house price in the Cotswolds is £422,804, making it one of the more expensive places to buy a home in Gloucestershire, but with property prices up six percent compared to 2020 and 15 per cent compared to 2019, it could prove a good investment.
The area is bursting with family attractions, with something to entertain everyone from history buffs to animal enthusiasts. One of the area’s most popular attractions is Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, which is home to rare-breed farm animals, the cutest baby animals in the county and plenty of indoor and outdoor entertainment for energetic little ones – not to mention glamping tents and luxury lodges for overnight stays.
Dinosaur enthusiasts will love exploring the Jurassic Journey at Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water; adventurous kids can come face to face with lions at Cotswold Wildlife Park near Burford; budding ornithologists can learn all about a wide range of waterfowl at Slimbridge Wetland Centre near Stroud; while nature lovers can marvel at nationally important tree collections at both Batsford Arboretum and Westonbirt Arboretum. Regular visitors can benefit from buying annual passes for many of these attractions, too.
Home to the prestigious wealth management firm St James’s Place, which is based in Cirencester, as well as global manufacturing company Renishaw, based in Wotton-under-Edge, the Cotswolds offers some great career opportunities for families thinking about their children’s future.
And although not strictly in the Cotswolds, there are plenty of opportunities nearby at places like GCHQ, GE Aviation, Kohler Mira and Superdry in Cheltenham; Mears, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Fasthosts in Gloucester; and Ecotricity in Stroud.
The Cotswolds is steeped in history, with many important ancient sites from the Neolithic era and the Roman invasion dotted throughout the countryside, like Belas Knap on Cleeve Hill, as well as Minchinhampton and Rodborough Common. Cirencester was the second largest Roman settlement in England, with the Corinium Museum full of historic artefacts and fascinating stories from the era.
The Cotswolds was an important strategic area in the English Civil War and Stow-on-the-Wold, Tetbury and Chipping Campden were all vitally important to the medieval wool trade, too.
Dating back even further, the area is a hotspot for fossils and in July 2021, a huge, fossilised Jurassic seabed was discovered in a quarry in the north Cotswolds. Even the area’s iconic honey-coloured Cotswold stone comes from Jurassic limestone.
With such outstanding natural beauty everywhere you look in the Cotswolds, it’s not surprising that the area has been inspiring artists for years. Art lovers are spoiled for choice with galleries, with a permanent collection of underrepresented art at Compton Verney Art Gallery and contemporary art at the Fosse Gallery in Stow-on-the-Wold. While New Brewery Arts in Cirencester hosts incredible craft exhibitions throughout the year, as well as hosting regular workshops and courses for adults and children. There’s also the unique Cotswold Sculpture Park, set within woodlands just outside South Cerney, that’s open from April to September.
For music fans, The Big Feastival takes place on Alex James’ farm near Kingham from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 August 2022, with previous headliners including Sigala, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Nile Rogers and Chic. While across the border in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, Wilderness Festival takes place from Thursday 4 to Sunday 7 August 2022, with everything from live music to yoga and wild swimming.
For families wanting an escape from city life without giving up a career elsewhere, the M5 gives commuters direct road links to both Bristol and Birmingham, while the A40 takes commuters straight into Oxford. One of the loveliest motorway service stations, Gloucester Services, is on the M5 at the edge of the Cotswolds, too.
There are also direct trains to London Paddington from nearby Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, Kemble and Stroud.
The festive season is a truly magical time of year – and nowhere more so than in the Cotswolds. From snow-covered hills, magical illuminated light trails at the likes of Cotswold Farm Park and Sudeley Castle, to Bourton-on-the-Water’s famous Christmas tree in the river, there’s wonder all around.
The Cotswolds is also a fantastic place to shop for unique Christmas gifts, with wonderful independent shops like Octavia’s Bookshop in Cirencester and Domestic Science in Nailsworth and Tetbury; antiques galore in Bibury and Stow-on-the-Wold; Cotswold Distillery shops in Broadway and Bourton-on-the-Water; and of course, big name shopping in nearby Cheltenham and Gloucester.
For more information about Rendcomb College, visit rendcombcollege.org.uk.
By Chloe Gorman
Thursday 20 January 2022
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