Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Painswick, Cotswolds 27.9.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 28, 2010

I don’t understand why British people complain about their trains – we think they’re terrific.   We packed up so efficiently this morning that we were able to squeeze in another hour at the British Museum, and then we took the Bristol train to Swindon.  It was on time, super clean and super fast, and very comfortable.  Best of all they have ‘quiet carriages’ where people are not allowed to talk loudly or use mobile phones.   

At Swindon we picked up our hire car, a Ford Focus, which is just big enough for the suitcases and just small enough to manage the narrow village roads here in Painswick.   It was foggy en route which made driving through the forest pleasantly spooky but alas ruined the views.  Too bad, this is England, and if the forecast is bad, well, there’s plenty to do whatever the weather. 



Painswick is enchanting.  We’re staying at Byfield House, which is a Grade II* heritage listed house.  Our host Jill showed us some of its features which include a medieval oak door, a Tudor section, a 17th Century Barn conversion and some gorgeous  ‘Adam’ plasterwork on the roof and walls in the 18th Century Drawing Room. (Think Josiah Wedgewood in pale pink and white and you have some idea of how pretty it is. ) Jill is also an antique dealer so the house is full of wonderful artworks and antiques including an intriguing Dutch corner cupboard which caught my eye! 

Just before night closed in we made our way into St Mary’s Church. Tim’s not as keen on churches as I am, but even he was fascinated by this one. It’s very old, with an Anglo-Saxon side chapel called St Peter’s where there are gravestones dated 1702, and others perhaps older where the inscriptions are so faded from centuries of parishioners traipsing across them the writing (probably in Latin anyway) is illegible to an untrained eye like mine. (Actually, I’m not sure that they’re called gravestones when they’re on the floor in a church. Can anyone enlighten me?) 

As you’d expect there are stained-glass windows erected in memory of loved ones, the most poignant of which are always the ones from that pointless Great War where young men lost their lives in their thousands. Here in Britain as in Australia, small places like this village would have felt their losses keenly and memorials like these keep names alive in public memory long after those of city boys remain an ache only in family history. 

What we weren’t expecting was a ship. There was a sign nearby that explains the religious associations, but still, a 1/25 scale model of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship The Bonaventure hanging off a wall in the nave is rather a curiosity. And we’re not the only ones to think so. Back at Byfield House we found a book entitled Cotswold Curiosities by Reginald Dixon, and he thought it odd enough to include in his book, (which has a lot of other bizarre sights to see in and around Painswick, including the stocks in the churchyard which we hope to find in daylight today). 

We had a fine dinner at the Cotswold’s 88 Hotel. The ambience is bizarre, a retro 1950s décor in a wonderful stone building centuries old. But the food was great: we both had pigeon and sirloin and the dishes were beautifully presented, light and delicious. As good as anything you’d get in a London restaurant. 

This post is a bit disjointed because the WiFi here is not fantastic and the signal keeps dropping out. Some of what I’ve written was done online, and some of it offline and pasted in when I could get back online. It’s too hard to do pictures too, I’ll try and add them later.

5 Responses to “Painswick, Cotswolds 27.9.10”

  1. debbie said

    I agree with you on trains in England-I very, very rarely travel on trains here in Melbourne, but loved getting on the trains in London-they took me where I wanted to go-no fuss-quickly, quietly and cleanly-never once did I feel scared, unlike here on the train….I remember reading something about the memorials in the churches in regards to you query on the names of the passed on church floors-will do some investigating and let you know when i find out…. I must say-bet you are not sitting on the floor sending your blogs—-I at least hope that is not the case-as was for me in Bali-the difference between a first world to third world country!!!!! keep up the beautiful writing and your blogs-I am sooooooo enjoying them!!!!!!

  2. David oxendale said

    Hi. Ive just read your piece on your visit to painswick. Truly marvellous. As a painswick resident who is currently on holiday in the canary islands- it made me feel somewhat homesick. As I work in Swindon, I travel the route through the forest each day- my last journey forced me to stop and take some photos from barrow wake viewpoint near the village of birdlip. If you want to see these for your collection, would be pleased to email. Thanks one again, you made my day. David.

    • Lisa Hill said

      Hello, David, thank you for taking the trouble to comment – your offer is very kind. I’ll have to pass on it for now because the internet connection here is intermittent and I don’t dare overload it with photos. We went through Birdlip today, what a charming village it is too!

  3. Lovely post Lisa. I was interested in the train – silent carriages like that are common on the Shinkansens in Japan – and, anyhow, it is generally considered rude in even normal carriages to talk on mobiles. If only we here recognised how intrusive these phones are in public. Anyhow, keep enjoying. I have never been to the Cotswolds and would love to one day.

    • Lisa Hill said

      Funny thing, Sue, we had a conversation with a rather grumpy English couple over dinner last night at the B&B, and they didn’t have a good word to say about their trains. They don’t seem to realise how good the service is!

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