Gloucestershire GL54 2B
There is no other village in the English Cotswolds like Bourton-on-the-Water, so what makes it unique?  It is the elegant low stone bridges crossing the little River Windrush that runs through the centre of the village that gives Bourton its character.
The crystal clear stream flows gently through grassy greens shaded by stately chestnut, beech and willow trees.  Traditional Cotswold stone houses line the streets on either side, and the classical little bridges make access easy especially for older visitors.
There is something about Bourton that children love – the cute little bridges, the families of cruising ducks and the shallow clear river are just their size.  This is a ‘chocolate-box village’ where no-one is in a hurry and pedestrians are free to wander untroubled by traffic.
The village is very compact, its flower bedecked shops and cottages serving refreshments and handicrafts.  Although it has its fair share of tourists especially during summer, everyone seems happy and relaxed.
The most well known attraction in town is Bourton Model Village.  Built of Cotswold stone in the 1930s it is located in the garden of The Old New Inn Pub.  Generations of delighted parents and children from all over the world have fond memories of their visits.  The village is not glitzy nor has it been updated.  There is an admission fee.
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Bourton is only 4 miles (6.4 km) from the hill-top historic market town of Stow-on-the-Wold.  We know that the surrounding rolling countryside has been occupied since pre-historic times.  Stone Age and Bronze Age burial mounds abound in the area.
On the northern edge of the village is the site of a Stone Age encampment, which was subsequently occupied by later civilizations. Iron Age currency bars from about 300 BC were found during excavations carried out in the last century. They are now in the British Museum.
The Roman Fosse Way (A429) from Stow runs along the ridge to the west of Bourton.  The Way was built by the Roman 2nd Legion and a large Roman settlement was uncovered beside the A429 at Bourton Bridge.
The Romans considered the crossing place on the River Windrush to be of strategic importance so they built a camp in the area that is now called Lansdowne.
The name Bourton comes from the Saxon word BURGH which means a fort or camp and TON which means a village or settlement. If you put the two together, you get 'the village beside the camp'.
At this time the River Windrush was much wider and faster flowing and it followed a different route.  In the 17th century the river was channelled through the centre of the village in order to provide a sufficient flow of water to power three mills, one of which is now the Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection.
The attractive parish Church of St Lawrence is mainly Georgian and Victorian in style but it has much older origins.  It is built on the site of a Roman temple!
Village a Royalist supporter in Civil War
Bourton was a staunch supporter of the Royalist cause during the First English Civil War (1642-46).  The parish’s rector, Thomas Temple, was also chaplain to the Royal household and tutor to the Royal Princes. The rector lived in the manor house opposite the church and King Charles I paid several visits.
In June 1644 the king and his army stopped in the village en route to Evesham The king and his son, the future King Charles II, stayed in the manor house and his army camped on what are now the playing fields of the Cotswold School.
After the Restoration in 1660, King Charles II made Thomas Temple Bishop of Bristol in recognition of the support he gave to his father.
Bourton’s Bridges
The true landmarks of Bourton are the five low bridges that cross the river, all constructed of local stone.
Mill Bridge at the western end of the village green is a road bridge built in 1654.  Next is the footbridge in the centre of the village green called High Bridge, built in 1756.
This is followed by Paynes Bridge built in 1776, a road bridge beside the old ford which is now closed to motor traffic. The footbridge, which stands close-by, is called New Bridge and was built in 1911 by local benefactor, George Frederick Moore.  More made his money as a successful tea planter.
In 1953, opposite the Old New Inn, the Coronation footbridge was built to replace an earlier wooden structure dating back to 1750.
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Attractions in the Area
Bourton is famous for its bird sanctuary and associated aviaries.  Birdland Park and Gardens is home to a huge variety of exotic birds including brightly coloured parrots, flamingos and penguins from the South Atlantic.
Visitor Information Centre
Information on other attractions, particularly suitable for families, can be found at the Bourton on the Water TIC in Victoria Street along with maps and brochures on walks in the area.
The Slaughters and the Rissingtons
Two other delightful villages close to Bourton are Upper and Lower Slaughter.  Upper Slaughter has a working water mill and Museum.  If you are feeling energetic there are pleasant walks beside the Windrush and across the fields to the Slaughters.
The nearby Rissington group of delightful villages has not yet been discovered by the hoard of tourists.  Little Rissington has a long association with the RAF although Little Rissington Base has now closed.
Contact & Further Information
A useful link for information about the village and surrounding attractions is available on:
Getting There
Access from London by car is relatively simple.
- By Car via Moreton-in-Marsh:
From Junction 1A on the M25 London ring road take the M40 west towards Oxford exiting the M40 at Junction 8 onto the A40 Oxford ring road. Exit the Oxford ring road to the A44 to Moreton-in-Marsh. At Moreton-in-Marsh take the A429 south through Stow-in-the-Wold to Bourton-on-the-Water.
- By Car via Burford:
From Junction 1A on the M25 London ring road take the M40 west towards Oxford exiting the M40 at Junction 8 onto the A40 Oxford ring road. Follow the A40 westwards past Eynsham, Witney and Burford exiting the M40 nine miles (14.5kms) beyond Burford onto the A429 north to Bourton-on-the-Water.
Google Map - Bourton-on-the-Water