Northleach may be one of the smaller Cotswold towns, but it has much to offer both visitors and local residents.
For many, Northleach is a Cotswold secret. Tucked away from the busy A40, between undulating hills, it stands at a crossroads on the Roman Fosse Way, in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The streets in and around the ancient market place are rich in architectural interest ranging from half-timbered Tudor houses and merchants’ stores to the great House of Correction, (formerly ‘The Cotswold Heritage Centre’), built in the 18th Century.
Above all, Northleach is a thriving small Cotswold town which has successfully balanced its traditional commerce with the demands of tourism. When you walk through the town, it presents itself as a proud descendent of the great days of the wool trade, boasting the finest example of the Cotswold perpendicular style in the impressive Church of St Peter and Paul. Although wool is no longer the main business of the town, the marketplace is busy with trade and the local hostelries provide a lively service to both visitors and locals.
For the visitor, Northleach is an ideal stop on the road from Oxford to Cheltenham, or between Stow and Cirencester. The town centre is compact and completely unspoilt, having changed little since 1500. Here you walk through the small alleys leading off the marketplace and discover houses, whose upper levels of timber framing overhang great stone built walls and wide oak doors. It is said that beneath the houses and streets of Northleach runs a maze of stone vaulted tunnels.
Whether this was the result of mining or some more obscure activity, few residents of Northleach could tell you!
Most of the shops in Northleach owned by independent proprietors – here you will find something for everyone from fresh bread and cakes, newspapers and magazines to specialist wines, fine quality meats and cheese, dolls houses and furniture, music boxes, cosmetics, cards and souvenirs. For those wishing to prolong their stay, Northleach has a number of establishments offering quality accommodation, plus a variety of eating places and public houses.
While many rush along the A40, travellers who stop to discover Northleach will leave the town knowing that they have just shared one of the most delightful secrets of the Cotswolds.