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