Discovering the Medieval Churches of the Cotswolds

Dr Samantha Harper
A 3-night tour exploring the art and artefacts of Medieval churches in the Cotswolds

Tour Dates

21/05/2021 - 24/05/2021 Book
25/03/2022 - 28/03/2022 Book

Discovering the Medieval Churches of the Cotswolds

Churches were not just places where we left our dead, but places where we can see what the deceased left behind, the messages they tried to leave for us, and what they were in life. Join us on this expert-led tour of the Cotswolds' Medieval churches to reveal the stories told through their magnificent art and decorations.

Parishioners would commission artefacts for piety, to provoke prayer for the soul of the deceased.

But they were also vain and wanted to ensure fame and lasting memory once they departed. 

Through this tour of ecclesiastical buildings in the wonderful Cotswolds, you will learn how to read a Medieval church and recognise the different architectural styles, the functional parts, and understand the motivations behind the decorations you will see. 

The expert leading your tour

Dr Samantha Harper specialises in late Medieval political British History and has a particular interest in lay religion pre and post Reformation. She has published a range of academic articles in prestigious journals and her book, ‘London and the Crown, 1461-1529’, will be published by the Oxford University Press in 2022. Samantha recently worked on the ‘Tudor Chamber Books’ project which transcribed and published these valuable documents online for both general and academic use.

She has more than 10 years of university teaching experience at Winchester and Bristol universities and currently works for Oxford University, advising academics on how to ensure that their research has a ‘life beyond the shelf’ and is accessible to general audiences.  

Living on the edge of the Cotswolds, Samantha has a passion for sharing her knowledge of the medieval heritage of the area, especially the religious buildings through which the stories of lost generations of local inhabitants can be brought to life and set in the context of England’s wider political narrative.


Locations you’ll visit

This packed programme includes visits to churches in:
  • Chipping Campden and Northleach, for their fascinating wool churches
  • Fairford, arguably the finest little church in the West Country
  • Cirencester, for a large parish church with lots to see
  • Malmesbury Abbey, where there's a tomb to a 10th century king
  • Lydiard,  a small but extraordinary church with an eye-catching interior
  • St. Mary’s in Warwick, where the Beauchamp Chapel inspires awe
  • Tewkesbury Abbey, to unpack 1,000 years of history
  • Burford, for post-reformation effigies and the mysterious freemasons tombs

Tour map

From your base in Stow-on-the-Wold, your expert guide takes you to a new destination every day.

Tour prices

This tour costs from £999 per person, based on two sharing if you are taking part in the tours, and from £799 if you are not taking part in the tour.

There is no single supplement for individuals staying in single rooms, and a small extra charge for individuals in twin or double rooms. 

Included in your holiday

  • Expert guide
  • Tour manager
  • 4* hotel accommodation
  • Executive minibus travel to all sites, with space so you can always have a spare seat next to you
  • Entry to all attractions
  • Breakfast and dinner each day

Available dates

This tour has departures on 21 May 2021 (book here) and on 25 March 2022 (book here).  

Numbers are limited, reserve your place with a low 5% deposit and enjoy the full flexibility of our COVID guarantee. 


You'll be spending much of your time exploring sights and attractions with your tour expert, so when you return to your hotel we know how important it is to be somewhere you can relax and refresh in comfort.

For this tour, you'll be staying in a luxurious four-star hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold. You'll have everything you need for a comfortable night's sleep with rooms that are ensuite and facilities including a TV, radio and complimentary wifi.

Each day we'll provide meeting times for tours, meals and evening activities, leaving you with time to enjoy your hotel or explore locally.  

Your booking includes:

  • Ensuite room with tea & coffee facilities and wifi
  • Breakfast and dinner

There are extra charges for:

  • All food and drink outside of breakfast and dinner. 

Transfers during your tour

For transfers between all tour destinations we use large 17-22 seater executive minibuses so that the seat beside you can be empty.

Transfers will be a luxury experience and your minibus will have comfortable reclining seats with safety belts, a fully operational air-conditioning system, an on-board refrigerator and a fully functioning toilet maintained throughout your journey.

Our drivers are friendly, smart, professional and punctual. so you are always in safe hands. 

Solo travellers welcome

Our tours are perfect for solo travellers who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of a subject, and prefer the choice of being as solitary or social as you like. Each tour is a journey of an independent mind – fellow travellers will be intelligent, well-read, knowledgeable and like-minded people, and a mutual interest in a particular topic can lead to life-long friendships.

Read more about our welcome for solo travellers here. 

Options for non-touring partners

If you have a partner who would like to join you on your break but doesn’t share your interest in churches, they are welcome to book a place without taking part in the daily tours. 

They can breakfast with the group and then make their own arrangements for the day, or travel with us to explore locations we’ll be visiting. These include our base for the tour, Stow-on-the-Wold, the pretty market town of Chipping Camden, and Northleach, where there is a wonderful clockwork toy museum and a couple of great little tea houses. Warwick and Tewkesbury are larger with attractions that include museums and art galleries.

Below is our daily itinerary for the tour. 

Tour Dates

21/05/2021 - 24/05/2021 Book
25/03/2022 - 28/03/2022 Book


Day 1

Arrive at your hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold, check in and refresh.

Your tour will start at Chipping Campden, 20 minutes north of Stow and then move on to Northleach. Along with Cirencester, these were the big wool towns in the Cotswolds, where much of the area’s wealth was focused. You’ll examine the characteristics of these wool churches, with both boasting a fine collection of merchant brasses that have their own fascinating stories.

Day 2

This is a full day, packing a lot in.

First you’ll visit Fairford, arguably the finest little church in the West Country. This is the only church with a full set of medieval glass, and there are stunning brasses, misericords and even the most wonderful memorial to an old church cat!

Next we head to Cirencester, which is a large parish church with a lot to see, including a porch with incredible fan vaulting, and grand brasses, a lady chapel and a large nave with a squat choir.

After lunch, we will visit the Abbey of Malmesbury, with its famous Norman Romanesque entrance and the 14th century tomb of Athelstan, the 10th century king who united all of England for the first time.

Our final stop is Lydiard Tregoze, a small but extraordinary church with an eye-catching interior. Ultimate opulence can be seen with the memorials to the St John family, such as a golden cavalier statue built for a favoured son, which contrasts sharply with the black marble austerity of his father’s tomb alongside. The church has some rather curious early modern paintings which it says are medieval, but your guide will present her argument as to why she disagrees.

Day 3

We’ll start the day in Warwick with a visit to Lord Leycester’s medieval hospital, before moving on to the church of St. Mary’s that dominate the town’s skyline.

After lunch we head to the Abbey at Tewkesbury, which is famous for its long knave, medieval glass windows and the largest Norman tower in Europe. With almost 1,000 years of history to unpack, we’ll finish the day here.

Day 4

For your final day we head to Burford to visit a wool church that was hijacked by the Tanfield and the Sylvester families in the 16th century. It is a fascinating mess of styles and symbolism, and a fitting place to end and bring all of our themes to a coherent end.