Stow-on-the-Wold, like its neighbour Moreton-in-Marsh, was also at the heart of the Cotswolds wool trade in the 13th and 14th centuries, selling up to 20,000 sheep in a single day. Leading into the market square, the high-walled, narrow alleyways – or tures as they were known – were cleverly designed to channel livestock from the surrounding area into these renowned fairs. Also still visible are the now-famous stocks, located on the green at one end of the town, which were used to punish and humiliate anyone who’d committed an offence. 

Despite this slightly chilling reminder of the brutalities of medieval life, the town today is absolutely charming, drawing visitors with its fascinating history, antique shops, tea rooms and beautiful independent stores, all housed in the signature mellow toned buildings for which the region is famous. Its setting is rather wonderful, too. Perched on top of a rounded hill at nearly 800ft above sea level, it’s the highest town in the Cotswolds, resulting in spectacular views from the surrounding countryside.