Tetbury Tracy Spiers takes us on a walk around this beau­ti­ful mar­ket town

It’s a thriv­ing mar­ket town close to the heart of HRH the Prince of Wales and it came to life thanks to the growth of the Cotswold wool trade. Tetbury boasts a rich ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage, some in­ter­est­ing tra­di­tions in­clud­ing wool­sack rac­ing and has one

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - TRACY SPIERS

Park car next to Tetbury Goods Shed, one of the town’s on­go­ing suc­cess sto­ries. Con­verted from a for­mer Great Western Rail­way build­ing last year, this part vol­un­teer-run arts cen­tre is prov­ing to be a much-loved vi­brant venue for art, mu­sic, dance and film. The Goods Shed Cin­ema opened this Spring and now of­fers an ex­ten­sive range of films and live sport. Ul­ti­mately the vi­sion is for the Shed to be­come a re­gional cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for the arts in The Cotswolds – show­cas­ing lo­cal and vis­it­ing artists in all cre­ative dis­ci­plines - whilst ful­fill­ing the lo­cal need for arts and en­ter­tain­ment. It is an im­pres­sive place and not only pays tribute to the town’s her­itage but is an out­ward ex­pres­sion of com­mu­nity spirit and ded­i­ca­tion. It is also set in a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion and is a great rest­ing place for cy­clists, run­ners, dog walk­ers and ram­blers. We ar­rive too early to visit its on-site Whis­tle Stop Café so make a note to end our trip here.

We walk into town via the steep but pic­turesque Chip­ping Steps. ‘Chip­ping’ is an old English word for mar­ket. For cen­turies, the area close to the steps, lined with weavers’ cot­tages, was where ‘Mop Fairs’ took place. It en­abled the un­em­ployed to of­fer their ser­vices for do­mes­tic and farm­ing posts. We reach the im­pres­sive fa­mil­iar golden coloured El­iz­a­bethan Mar­ket House, which on a Satur­day is thriv­ing with plant sell­ers and the like. Built in 1655, it is a fine ex­am­ple of a Cotswold pil­lared mar­ket house and still used as a meet­ing place and mar­ket.

At­tracted by the enor­mous pink meringues in the shop win­dow of Halls Bak­ery, we pop in and meet Ally Lewis-wyton, who says we’re not the only ones who have com­mented on the colour­ful dis­play. Open ev­ery day, the bak­ery’s pop­u­lar 24 hour fer­mented dough recipe is al­ways in de­mand.

Vis­it­ing Tetbury on a bright sunny day with all the flow­ers and out­door flo­ral dis­plays look­ing great, we are drawn to the court­yard gar­den of The Or­mond At Tetbury. Sum­mer is a great time to eat out­doors and there is a plethora of restau­rants, pubs and el­e­gant places to dine here.

Tetbury is also a mag­net for an­tique lovers and many an hour can be spent in the town’s mul­ti­tude of an­tiques shop. I ad­mire the stat­ues in the court­yard of Lor­fords, Europe’s largest col­lec­tion of dec­o­ra­tive an­tiques.

We en­joy a gen­tle stroll and dis­cover some of Tetbury’s in­de­pen­dent shops. We spot Teasel Eng­land which spe­cialises in English-worn fab­rics,

fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories and are drawn in by the invit­ing colour, fresh fra­grance and at­trac­tive lay-out of French Grey, where we meet man­ager Jackie Stead. Full of won­der­ful gifts, with a new ex­tended card range, there is in­deed some­thing for ev­ery­one in this lovely shop.

On the way to visit Tetbury Po­lice Mu­seum and Court­room, I bump into for­mer mayor, town coun­cil­lor Stephen Hirst, be­fore meet­ing the mu­seum’s res­i­dent po­lice­man, Sergeant Smith, who looks so life-like he makes me jump. In or­der to pre­serve a part of Tetbury’s her­itage whilst pro­vid­ing a pub­lic coun­cil of­fice, the Town Coun­cil bought the Vic­to­rian Po­lice Sta­tion and Court­room, which now cov­ers over 170 years of polic­ing his­tory and pro­vides an in­sight to lo­cal so­cial his­tory too. Mum puts me be­hind bars in a cell that isn’t oc­cu­pied by pris­oner Fred sleep­ing off a han­gover! We en­joy read­ing the in­ter­est­ing notes from the mid 1800s on dis­play, in­clud­ing those about a cou­ple who were taken to Glouces­ter for trial for steal­ing a sil­ver spoon, while others were caught sheep or turnip steal­ing. There’s also a fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tion of whis­tles, trun­cheons, hand­cuffs, uniforms and other po­lice mem­o­ra­bilia.

Mum is on the hunt for beef and mush­room sausages hav­ing bought some dur­ing the Wool­sack Races so we visit Jesse Smith & Co butch­ers. I come away with a spicy scotch egg and meet Lor­raine Butcher, who is of­ten told she has an ap­pro­pri­ate name for her work­place.

Pop into the High­grove Shop where there is a unique col­lec­tion of or­ganic foods and life­style prod­ucts for the home and gar­den. Buy a trowel and spade keyring for my al­lot­ment-lov­ing hus­band. High­grove prod­ucts take their in­spi­ra­tion from the gar­dens at High­grove and re­flect the widerang­ing in­ter­ests and pas­sions of HRH The Prince of Wales. Many of the prod­ucts are cre­ated by British ar­ti­san man­u­fac­tur­ers and crafts­men and are ex­clu­sive to High­grove, with prof­its go­ing to the Prince’s Char­i­ties Foun­da­tion. Just out­side Tetbury, lies Duchy Home Farm, es­tab­lished by the Prince to pro­mote the wider adop­tion of or­ganic farm­ing and food pro­duc­tion meth­ods and is a key sup­plier for many Duchy Orig­i­nals prod­ucts.

Still on the sub­ject of High­grove, since ar­riv­ing in 1990, the Prince of Wales has trans­formed High­grove Gar­dens and it is now re­garded as one of the most cre­atively in­spired gar­dens of to­day and in­cludes a wild­flower meadow and over 30 va­ri­eties of na­tive plants. Veg­eta­bles such as Char­lotte pota­toes, spring cab­bage, Brus­sels

sprouts and car­rots are grown in the Kitchen Gar­den and many va­ri­eties of ap­ple are grown, in­clud­ing very rare, vir­tu­ally ex­tinct cook­ing ap­ples.

Take note of Velo­ton, a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for cy­clists, par­tic­u­larly my hus­band Rog, the MAMIL in my house (Mid­dle-aged man in ly­cra) and Greg, his cy­cling chum, who is re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing him in shape by set­ting reg­u­lar chal­lenges.

Am at­tracted by a stun­ning colour­ful mas­ter­piece in win­dow of Oto­mys, a new gallery which opened in Fe­bru­ary. Nikki Finch is get­ting the at­trac­tive space ready for the Sum­mer Ex­hi­bi­tion which fea­tures in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal artists. “It’s a great place for in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses and the arts and an­tiques go well to­gether.

I am hop­ing the town will be­come a des­ti­na­tion for art and de­sign,” says Nikki.

Meet Lynn Thorn, owner of Tetbury Sweets and Treats, which she opened four years ago. It is a place the young and old never tire of, bring­ing back mem­o­ries of first try­ing a Rhubard and Cus­tard or Sher­bet Lemon. Tastes are bril­liant for evok­ing mem­o­ries so I buy some Dolly Mix­tures and Liquorice All­sorts for my Dad.

Take note of St Mary’s Church which dates from the late 18th cen­tury, and re­placed the me­dieval church apart from the tower and spire, which was de­mol­ished in 1777. Con­sid­ered one of the UK’S tallest spires, this Ge­or­gian Gothic mas­ter­piece, along with the town’s many other listed build­ings means Tetbury is a des­ig­nated out­stand­ing con­ser­va­tion area.

Visit Tetbury Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre where we find out about events hap­pen­ing in Au­gust, in­clud­ing Tetbury Sum­mer Show on Au­gust 12. This in­cor­po­rates Tetbury Flower Show and cel­e­brates the tra­di­tional with a mar­quee boast­ing a fin­ery of flow­ers, fruit and veg­eta­bles all grown and dis­played by lo­cal ex­hibitors. Do­mes­tic of­fer­ings in­clud­ing cakes, sponges and jams, flo­ral artistry and arts and craft dis­plays will also be on show. An­other event to note is Tetbury Clas­sic Car Show on Au­gust 19 (10am-4pm) at Sir Wil­liam Rom­ney’s School where 450 clas­sic ve­hi­cles will be on dis­play. To keep up to date with the events in Tetbury, it is worth log­ging on to the town’s re­fur­bished web­site www. visit­tet­bury.co.uk

Walk down Gum­stool Hill used for the an­nual wool­sack races. There was once a duck­ing-stool or gum-stool here, used for the pun­ish­ment of ‘scolds’. The wool­sack races are a re­minder that in the Mid­dle Ages, Tetbury be­came an im­por­tant mar­ket for Cotswold wool and yarn. It was then that the Tetbury Wool­sack Races, when com­peti­tors carry a 60-pound sack of wool up a steep hill, were founded and are still con­tested an­nu­ally.

We end our jour­ney where we started at Tetbury Goods Shed and are re­warded with a lovely cof­fee at The

Whis­tle Stop café, which has re­cently opened as an in­de­pen­dent ad­di­tion to this amaz­ing fa­cil­ity. Meet man­ager Sasha Jen­ner and Ellie Green­way and ad­mire the re­stored train car­riage nearby which acts as a café and venue for arts. Artsparks run by lo­cal artists Liz Lan­cashire and Tam Inglis, is run­ning a se­ries of work­shops over the sum­mer for chil­dren aged 6-11 years. This in­cludes mak­ing 3D dio­ra­mas with imag­i­nary rail­way trav­ellers in sil­hou­ette on Au­gust 16 (10am-1pm) and Sea­side Felt-mak­ing on Au­gust 17 (10am-1pm).

Be­fore we leave we pop in­side Tetbury Goods Shed and meet some of the vol­un­teers who have helped ful­fil this vi­sion. It was a year ago since I first saw this build­ing and it was not then of­fi­cially open. Now see­ing it be­ing used as an art ex­hi­bi­tion – no­tably print­maker Si­mon Packard and Frank Cook dur­ing the sum­mer months – and see­ing the cin­ema seat­ing fit­ted, one can’t feel a lit­tle bit jeal­ous of this su­perb amenity, set in such a gor­geous peace­ful set­ting. Arts Cen­tre Ad­min­is­tra­tor Kathryn Li­moi can’t praise the vol­un­teer-strong com­mu­nity enough for pulling to­gether to make it hap­pen. “I am ob­vi­ously ev­ery ex­cited to be in­volved in this whole new project. We have a smash­ing group of peo­ple, and the sup­port has been amaz­ing. The cin­ema takes place ev­ery Thurs­day, the café is now up and run­ning and the train car­riage en­sures there is an all-weather din­ing area. To be in­volved with every­body here is just fab­u­lous.”

On the way home we drive past the turn­ing to Chave­nage House, a won­der­ful El­iz­a­bethan house of mel­low Cotswold stone which is a fam­ily home as well as of­ten be­ing used as a lo­ca­tion for TV & film pro­duc­tions. Os­car win­ning Ed­die Red­mayne, Jamie Dor­nan, the late Warren Clarke and Ai­dan Turner have all filmed here. I must also men­tion the BBC’S re­make of Poldark, the ro­man­tic saga set in 18th cen­tury Corn­wall which also fea­tures Chave­nage.

To end I pay tribute to an­other amenity as­so­ci­ated with Tetbury and one vis­ited by thou­sands each year - We­ston­birt Ar­bore­tum. I had the plea­sure of work­ing here many years ago dur­ing the busy months when the Au­tumn colours look their best. This is an in­spir­ing place for peo­ple to en­joy and learn about trees, with 15,000 spec­i­mens from all over the world and it is a per­fect place to re­lax, learn or have an adventure. With sum­mer hol­i­days upon us, it is worth not­ing that kids go free from July 24 July to Septem­ber 2. There are some ex­cit­ing events to en­joy in­clud­ing a chance to see what goes on be­hind the scenes, and find out about the won­der­ful range of food and drink trees can pro­vide. Chew­ing on trees sounds great fun!

Chip­ping Steps

Tetbury’s Mar­ket House


High­grove Shop

Tracy with town coun­cil­lor StephenHirst out­side Tetbury Po­lice Mu­seum & Court­room

Goods Shed Tetbury

Sasha Jen­ner, man­ager of The Whis­tle Stop Cafe

at Tetbury Goods Shed The ren­o­vated rail­way coach

Ad­mir­ing a statue at Lor­fords

Tetbury’s res­i­dent sergeant!


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