Castle Coombe Wiltshire a winter walk

Cottages by the By brook river
Picture perfect cottages

Castle Coombe in Wiltshire is the sort of English village that appears on jigsaws, calendars and Christmas cards. After being chosen as England’s prettiest village it was used as the setting for Dr Doolitle starring Rex Harrison.  More recently it was used as a location by Spielberg in his film Warhorse and in the film Wolfman

Last Saturday our walking group met at the free long stay car park just outside Castle Coombe for a Christmas walk. The small village is about twelve miles from Bath and is surrounded by woodland. It is on the Southern edge of the Cotswolds. Visitors are encouraged to park outside the village and walk down the gentle hill. We have had a lot of rain recently and I had dusted off my wellington boots ready for a very muddy hike. Luckily the weather was sunny although I enjoyed splashing through the puddles. The By brook river which flows through Castle Coombe was very full and fast flowing. In earlier centuries it provided the power for local water mills. 

The By brook was very full. #Castle Coombe
We needed our wellington boots

Castle Coombe is close to the route of the old Roman Fosse way. It takes its name from a medieval castle which has long disappeared. Like many Cotswold  villages its wealth came from the wool trade. The cottages have thick honey coloured stone walls and tiled roofs. There are no street lights, T.V. masts or advertising signs.

The market cross #Castle Coome
The market Cross

I had to use a stock photograph for the market cross as it is undergoing repairs and was covered in scaffolding.

A yellow house with a shell porch
Dr. Doolittle’s house

The shell porch on this house is a typical early 18th century feature. When they filmed Dr. Doolittle in Castle Coombe this was Rex Harrison’s house. Unfortunately the Hollywood film crew had not allowed for British weather and after several weeks of rain they decided to recreate the village in America. In the original footage the river side above was turned into a seaside fishing quay.

Houses on the main street Castle Coombe
The main Street

St. Andrew’s church was hosting a display of Christmas trees.

St. Andrew’s church is famous for its 14th century faceless clock. However when we visited it was full of Christmas trees which had been decorated by local businesses and other organisations. As you can see some of them were slightly unusual.

Tree and Knight Castle Coombe Church
Fun fact the crossed legs of the Knight signify he had been on a crusade

This tree was decorated with poppies to remember the men and animals from the area who died in the first and second world war. The purple poppies represent animals who died. The village was used as a setting for Warhorse and many horses from the area were sent to France.

A model racing car with a Christmas tree on the roof
Tree decorated by Castle Coombe racing circuit

An old second World war airport nearby has been turned into a race track . Gift vouchers either to watch an event or have a go at driving yourself are very popular as birthday presents. Castle Coombe race circuit 

Several other firms had decorated trees. This was one of the strangest.

Tree with fire extinguishers

 

Visitor information

Getting there

By car  turn off junction 17 of the M4 (Chippenham)

By train: Taxi or bus from Chippenham station.

Where to stay

The old manor house has been turned into a luxury hotel with its own golf course and award winning restaurant.

A typical cottage
Cottage for rent

This cottage which used to be a museum is also used as a holiday let and is probably a cheaper alternative. 

There are several designated walking trails around the village.

Postscript

We ended our walk with a glass of wine and a sandwich in the White Hart where  according to their website they have been serving beer for at least 500 years. 

As this will be my last post before Christmas I wish you all a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. As always I love reading your comments.

 

Author: Anne Fraser

Hi, I am Anne, I am a retired nurse from Bristol in South West England. I am married with five grown up children, four boys and a girl , a grandson and a cat. I like History, travel and reading. I hope to connect with other people with similar interests.

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