View of south wing of The Wyck Hill House Hotel and Spa with a wedding party in attendance.
The Wyck Hill House Hotel and Spa was booked some eighteen months prior to the TTT 2 weekend. We are increasingly experiencing the need to book hotels well in advance as hotels, especially what I would term ‘character hotels’, are keen to host weddings, which fill the establishments at weekends, just when we want to use them!
Our choice of hotel seemed to go down well with the T-Type tourists with many complimentary remarks about the food and the level of service. There is however a need for some updating to the rooms in this Grade II* listed building which dates from the 18th century. One guest quipped that you could have held a dance in the generous proportions of his room.
The routes had been planned well in advance by Octagon Car Club Chairman, Brian Rainbow and he and his wife, Rosie physically checked them in good time to type up the roadbook and deliver it to one of our joint sponsors, Hagerty International Insurance, who kindly arranged for a quality print job. Our other sponsor, NTG Motor Services Limited generously funded the production of the rally plates.
Within two weeks of the commencement of the tour our entry list of 43 cars had shrunk to 38 cars
due to health issues. Indeed, of the 38 cars which eventually made the tour, two crews who were originally down to come in TDs actually came in MGBV8s due to mobility issues (not the cars – one or other of the occupants!)
Our Saturday run took us through 75 miles of delightful Cotswold countryside. On leaving via the south side of the hotel we passed through some picturesque villages (the Rissingtons) before arriving at Bourton-on-the-Water, a mecca for tourists, especially Japanese tourists, who were keen to take photos of the cars. Some crews stopped in Bourton, others didn’t, moving on up the Fosse Way and turning left through the villages of Lower and Upper Slaughter and negotiating fords (see pic below, courtesy of Paul Ireland).
Richard Hirstin his Cooper MG was probably closer to the water than most.
We then passed through the Cotswold villages of Naunton, Guiting Power, and via another ford at Kineton.
Ed’s note: For the benefit of our overseas readers a ford is found where a road goes across a shallow stream/river without a bridge; there are over 2,000 fords in the UK.
By late morning we arrived at Batsford Arboretum, our first official stop of the day, having driven through the villages of Hinchwick and Bourton-on-the-Hill.
The Arboretum and Garden Centre is reached by a long narrow drive with strategically located passing places. A dedicated parking area had been set aside for us and the following picture shows the editor discussing the day’s progress with Brian Rainbow alongside Brian’s TA (photo by kind permission of Rosie Rainbow).
Coffee had been arranged in the spacious and well-equipped Batsford cafeteria along with a prepaid entrance ticket to the arboretum.
The arboretum contains around 2,000 trees, with a large collection of Japanese maples, magnolias and pines. It maintains the national collection of Prunus (sato-sakura Group) Japanese Flowering Cherry.
The staff of the Batsford Foundation, a registered charity, which looks after Batsford, were very excited because one of their trees from the Chinese forests Emmenopteryshenryi has come into bloom for the first time in 25 years – was it the warm spell?
Some of the cars parked at Batsford (photo by kind permission of Rosie Rainbow).
From Batsford (actually quite a few of us stayed there for lunch as the cafeteria was so good) we journeyed on through Blockley (the base for Blockley tyres, and also the home of Watsonian Squire, the largest UK manufacturer of sidecars and trailers for motorcycles) and on to Broad Campden and the small town of Chipping Campden.
Jeff and Angela Townsend’s TB pictured in Broad Campden(photo by kind permission of Jeff Townsend).
For our next stop we had a choice of either Kiftsgate Court Gardens or Hidcote Manor Garden (National Trust) before wending our way through a handful of small villages and arriving at the small market town of Moreton-in-Marsh with its gorgeous honey coloured stone buildings.
Our final stop of the day was in Stow-on the-Wold reached by a circuitous route from Moreton, which took us through Chasleton, Cornwell, Churchill, Kingham and Adelstrop.
At the Cornwell/Chipping Norton crossroads the roadbook told us not to worry if we saw MGs coming towards us from the opposite direction, as this crossroads is used twice. However, this was not a source of worry to some of us as we are quite used to getting lost and seeing other MGs who have taken the correct route coming towards us!
Stow is the editor’s favourite town of the Cotswolds and we spent quite some time there with Sue shopping and me watching the world go by whilst sitting in the market square.
Part of the market square in Stow (photo by kind permission of Sue James).
Stow is steeped in history. It is situated on top of an 800 ft hill at the convergence of a number of major roads through the Cotswolds, including the Fosse Way, which is of Roman origin. The town was founded as a planned market place by Norman lords to take advantage of trade on the converging roads. In 1330 Edward III granted a seven-day fair in August, which was superseded in 1476 by two five- day fairs. An annual horse fair is still held on the edge of town.
The town played a role in the English Civil War and where I was sitting, watching the world go by at the cross in the centre of the market place, I noticed a plaque, which is pictured below.
The Stow cross and commemorative plaque (photos by kind permission of Sue James).
All in all, it had been a good day out and we returned to the Wyck Hill House Hotel a little tired.
Back at the hotel (photo by kind permission of Rosie Rainbow).
The Sunday tour was a little shorter at 69 miles, but there was still plenty to pack in.
Leaving the hotel via the south side, we were soon travelling down narrow lanes, through Church and Nether Westcote, Idbury and Fifield before joining the A424, which took us into the small town of Burford.
Parking is a real challenge in all the Cotswold towns but in Burford it seemed more difficult than most. We were unable to find a parking space which was a pity because the town has so much to offer. Here you can stay in a hotel frequented by King Charles II and Nell Gwynn (long time mistress of the King), dine where Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson once dined, or visit England’s oldest pharmacy, a chemist’s shop since 1734. On a more macabre note, you can visit St John’s church and witness the scratched name of Anthony Sedley on the baptismal font. Sedley was one of the ‘Levellers’ (mutinous rebels in Cromwell’s army), who were besieged in the church and had to watch from the roof as their ringleaders were executed in the churchyard.
From Burford we were soon back in the lanes, through Westwell, Hatherop, Coln St Aldwyn and Bibury, which was a recommended stop. Bibury is a number one destination for Japanese tourists possibly attributed to the fact that the late Emperor Hirohito stayed there whilst on a European tour. One of our T-Type tourists quipped that he should have parked up, put a sign in his TD which offered photos if you wanted to take one seated in the car for £5 a time – it would have paid for his weekend!
The photo below shows the TA of Kev and Mel Howe with Arlington Row in the background. Arlington Row is a group of ancient cottages with steeply pitched roofs, believed to to have been built around 1380 as a monastic wool store and later converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. It is said that Henry Ford was so impressed with what he considered was an icon of England, that he tried to buy the entire row of cottages and have them shipped back to Michigan, so that he could include them in Greenfield Village!
Bibury with Arlington Row in the background (the river Coln is the other side of the wall (photo by kind permission of Kev Howe).
From Bibury, turning right at the Swan Hotel with the trout farm on our left, we drove 6 miles through the lanes to our coffee stop at Northleach.
The ‘jailer’, alias Brian Rainbow, was in attendance (I think he had lost his keys!) as we veered off the Fosse way and into the Cotswolds Discovery Centre.
The Cotswolds Discovery Centre is a multi-use building, housing the Visitor Centre, the Cotswolds Conservation Board, the Cotswolds Lion Café, the Cotswolds Dry Stone Walling Academy and of course, the Grade II* listed Old Prison.
It was a popular coffee stop, not least for the opportunity to sample the home-made Victoria sponge cake or the lemon drizzle cake (which had been made especially for us) with one’s tea or coffee. An added bonus was the substantial parking area, which easily accommodated nearly 40 MGs.
Several of the T-Type tourists took the opportunity to look around the Visitor Centre and then go through to view the Old Prison.
Julia Evans opted to have a brief stay inside, but the iron mattress was definitely not to her liking!
The Old Prison (formerly Northleach House of Correction) was built in 1792 and has had various uses over the years, including a Petty Sessional Court and a Police Station. It was still used for these purposes up to the early 1970s.
Suitably refreshed, we crossed the main A40 Cheltenham to Oxford road and headed towards Chedworth Roman Villa. Built in phases from the 2nd to the 4th century and discovered in 1864, it is one of the largest Roman Villas in the UK.
Passing by the old RAF Chedworth satellite station, we negotiated some extremely narrow lanes through Withington, Dowdeswell, Whittington and Brockhampton.
At Brockhampton there was a photo opportunity to ‘capture’ the stately house, built between 1639 and 1642. The property was requisitioned during the Second World War, and post-war was run as a country house hotel and then offices until 1979. It was then converted into apartments for those of substantial means.
George Arber stopped his EXU TC to take this photo of Brockhampton House. Pauline is studying the map.
We were now heading towards the ancient Anglo- Saxon town of Winchcombe with its inns, restaurants, tea rooms and shops (including several antique shops), full of character of times past. Passing through the town we noted that we were within half a mile of 15th century Sudeley Castle, whose chapel, St Mary’s of Sudeley, is the burial place of Queen Catherine Parr, sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII.
Proceeding through yet more narrow roads, we were now within a couple of miles of The Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway, a volunteer-run heritage railway which runs along the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border of the Cotswolds, offering a 28 mile round trip from Broadway to Cheltenham racecourse. Its main station is just outside Toddington, which is where we stopped for some refreshments. Rosie Rainbow took the following photo of one of the trains.
The initials GWR stand for Great Western Railway, but better known to some as ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’.
From the railway station it was a 12 mile scenic drive, passing through Upper Swell and Lower Swell, until the junction with the Fosse Way at Stowe and the final 2 miles to the hotel.
The existence of Donnington Brewery (established 1865) in Upper Swell was noted for a follow up visit, particularly as it is connected with the Arkell family (Arkell’s Brewery, based in Swindon, Wiltshire) and the link with Oliver Arkell, who bought one of the first Raworth bodied MGs from Cecil Kimber on 11th August 1923.
Reflecting on the tour as I pen this article two weeks later, it was thoroughly enjoyable and well worth all the effort put into it. As I said at the Saturday dinner when presenting Rosie Rainbow with some gift vouchers, it would not have happened without the considerable efforts of Brian and Rosie Rainbow in planning, mapping and publishing the routes.
Our journey home to Keynsham (50 miles down the Fosse Way) was uneventful, 2700 rpm in top overdrive (50 mph) all the way. The little PB has never let me down in 20 years of ownership. It is a shame that she has to be sold.