With its old-style weavers’ cottages, babbling stream and surrounding greenery, Castle Combe is one of the prettiest villages in England. Walk through the quaint center and admire the uniform thick stone buildings, many of which are hundreds of years old and are listed as ancient monuments. Look for historic sites, including a 14th-century country house hotel, a courthouse and a pub that has been serving beer for five centuries.
Ask locals to point out Dower House, a building that would have traditionally been the residence of the village doctor. This house featured in the original Doctor Dolittle film, which was shot in the village in the mid-1960s. Other noteworthy landmarks include St. Andrew’s Church, a stone structure dating back to the late 13th century. The church contains the tomb of Sir Walter de Dunstanville, a Norman knight who died in 1270 as well as the medieval Castle Combe Clock, which is still in use today.
Find the Market Cross near the church. Dating back to the 14th century, this monument is believed to be the site of a historic weekly market and remains the centerpiece of the village. Beside the main monument is another smaller stone structure, which is sometimes referred to as the buttercross; some believe it was used to tether horses.
While you’re in town, call by the Manor House, an exquisite hotel located on about 365 acres (148 hectares) of stunning green countryside. Book a tee time and play a round of golf at the hotel’s excellent 18-hole course. The course features hand-cut greens and matured oaks.
Castle Combe is about 21 miles (34 kilometers) from Bristol. Travelers arriving by car can use the free visitor parking at the top of the hill at the north end of the village. The village itself is small and walkable.
With opportunities for hiking, go-karting and off-road driving within easy reach, this charming country village is an ideal destination for a rural retreat.