Great Wolford and Little Wolford nestle in the rolling hills of the north Cotswolds between Chipping Norton in the south, Shipston-on-Stour in the north and Moreton-in-Marsh in the west. If you enter from the Four Shires Stone* they are the first villages in Warwickshire.

Most of the two villages are built from Cotswold stone, or a combination of stone and hand made brick (sourced from the valley that separate the two villages). Many have stone or slate roofs, a few retaining thatch. There are both wooden and stone lintels to be seen as well as stone 'coynes' and mullion windows.

Historically the villages were owned by different estates. Lord Redesdale of Batsford Park owned Great Wolford until it was sold in 1924 whereas the Weston Estate owned Little Wolford.

The villages have both expanded slowly over the years and retain the quiet charm of peaceful Cotswold life. The surrounding countryside provides both a beautiful backdrop and a traditional way of life.

*(A stone monolith where Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire used to meet - until boundary changes)

St. Michael and all Angels Church Great Wolford, taken from Little Wolford

 

Rush hour in Great Wolford

With a population of just over 200, Great Wolford is the larger of the two villages. It has a cosy feel, with many of the stone houses sporting gables and diamond patterned windows.

Wolford Wood (found just to the west of the village) is an ancient woodland that achieved SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) status in 1987. It contains a rich diversity of flora and fauna, with rare orchids and many species of birds and butterflies.

The village itself is centered on a crossroads with a few dozen dwellings, two bespoke furniture businesses and several Grade two listed buildings, one of which being a lovely Cotswold Inn, The Fox and Hounds.

The Inn is popular with villagers for its local ale and with many visitors for the exceptional food that it serves six days a week. The building itself is thought to be 16th century - having been an Inn for the best part of the time since.

"The cosy low-beamed old-fashioned bar has a nice collection of chairs and candlelit old tables on spotless flagstones, antique hunting prints on the walls, and a roaring log fire in the inglenook fireplace with its fine old bread oven".

(from the Good Pub Guide 2003 - follow *this* link for the review).

...The Fox and Hounds Inn - Great Wolford

.....

The church in Great Wolford was rebuilt in the 19th century on the foundations of its 12th century predecessor and there is a list of vicars' names dating back from 1257 to the present day.

Given today's declining attendances the church maintains a thriving community. The parish is one of seven looked after by a vicar who lives in Long Compton and a curate who lives in the vicarage.

There is a well practised group of bellringers who are happy to welcome visitors to rehersals to watch the changes rung.

Despite a declining population (with a lot fewer children), Great Wolford has a keen sense of community, and a parish council that plays a key role in protecting the look and feel of the village. A comprehensive 'Village Design Statement' was produced in 2002 "to present a representative view of the whole village on potential development and change".

 

The traditional 'coffin carrier' in the church foyer

A Cotswold stone cottage on Great Wolford village crossroads

Being a conservation area (last agreed 1999), any new housing must reach the high standards set by local and national governments. The latest housing development ~ 'Carters Leaze', is built using local stone and utilises many salvaged stone and timber work as traditional features.

The Wolfords are surrounded by countryside that is largely arable farmland, dairy farming being almost a thing of the past. Although the number of working farms continues to decline, farming still dominates the look and feel of the area.

Interestingly, rain that falls west of Wolford runs into tributaries of the River Stour and thence into the Avon and Severn and to the west, whereas rain that falls to the east of the Wolfords filters into the Thames and flows eastward towards the English Channel. The Wolfords are on more than one crossroads.

 

Harvest time by Great Wolford

 

In the 2000 census Little Wolford is recorded as having a population of 97.

The most noteworthy of the inhabited dwellings is the 15th century Manor which despite having fallen into disrepair for about 100 years was restored in the 1930's (leaving the blood stained stairs - reputed to be from the battle of Edgehill in 1642).

 

 

Many of the rest of the cottages and houses are Cotswold stone - and there remain two working farmhouses.

Another, now long converted into private houses, was the temporary accommodation for the evacuated Old Vic Company in the second world war.

 

Little Wolford horse trough fountain and post box

 

Being higher than Great Wolford, the views from Little Wolford are stunning. Looking west on a clear day one can see all the way to Broadway Tower, and to the east over the valley to Brailes Hill.

Little Wolford has a long past, and is extensively referred to In the Domesday book. It's still possible to see clearly the medieval ridge and furrow in the surrounding fields.

Somewhere, lost to all but a few is an old well said to hold healing properties for sick eyes and ears.

The entrance to the village (now on the A3400) is marked by a tiny lodge, designed by Blore, the architect of Buckingham Palace (and also of Weston House - long since gone)

This lodge is all of the Wolfords that most will ever see as they speed from Oxford towards Stratford upon Avon.

Then there is the countryside.

The north is regarded as the 'unfashionable' end of the Cotswolds, but in many people's opinion is the better for it. Away from the crowds, the Wolfords sit amongst some of the quietest and prettiest farming countryside in England. From the winter snow to the gold of autumn - there are not many nicer places to spend some time.

The Wolfords are:

About 5 miles from Moreton in Marsh and Shipston on Stour

About 10 miles from Chipping Campden, Stow on the Wold and Chipping Norton

About 15 miles from Broadway and Bourton on the Water

About 20 miles from Stratford upon Avon and Oxford

About 30 miles from Cirencester and Cheltenham

 

Time and temperature in the Wolfords. Click for Birmingham, United Kingdom Forecast

Click here for the 5 day weather forecast for the Wolfords

Click here to see some photos from the re-opening of the Little Wolford Village Hall in March 2003

Follow any of the links below to view some more photographs and find out more about the Wolfords.

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