Painswick Churchyard, the Cotswolds

Painswick Churchyard, the Cotswolds

The beautiful, small town of Painswick perches on a hilltop between Cheltenham and Stroud and is often labelled as ‘The Queen of the Cotswolds.’ Painswick is known for being one of the best-preserved towns in the Cotswolds due to the pretty cottages that sit at its heart. Constructed from mellow honey-coloured stone, quarried from nearby Painswick Beacon, many of them were built at the height of the woollen industry boom, which gave the area a good number of its grandest buildings.

The tall spire of St Mary’s Church is visible from miles around. While the church was built as far back as the 14th century, this elegant spire wasn’t first erected until 1632. But just twelve years later the church was besieged by Royalist troops who used canon fire to force out the hiding Parliamentarians.

While the church itself is interesting to peek inside, most visitors come to see its splendid churchyard. A photographer’s dream, it is dotted with unusual tabletop tombs and neatly clipped yew trees. If you decide to count them, you should find just 99 of these ancient yew trees, as legend has it that the devil won’t let a hundredth tree grow.

Image copyright @Sara Chardin

The churchyard has previously served as a spectacular backdrop to Painswick’s wearable art festival, and, at various times throughout the year, you may come across a winter Wassailing procession (a local fruit tree blessing tradition), an arts festival, a Clypping ceremony (not to be confused with tree clipping) and the Christmas Goodwill Evening. At the Painswick Feast in September, locals and visitors come together to enjoy live music, apple pressing and the historic ‘Clypping’ ceremony. It’s a tradition at the Feast to try Puppy Dog Pie - don’t worry it’s not really made with puppy dogs!

Although Painswick is not really known as a place for shopping, we’d definitely recommend dropping into one of its pubs to try a locally brewed ale or perhaps enjoy lunch or afternoon tea in one of the cafes.

The town is located half way along the Cotswold Way and there are some lovely walks you can do from the centre; try heading up to Painswick Beacon for incredible views or down into Painswick Valley. The Rococo Garden is just out of town and definitely worth a visit.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Cotswolds here.

Image copyright @Sara Chardin
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