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Home | Guidebooks | Charlbury

A visitor’s guide to Charlbury

Charlbury, Bolthole Retreats

About Charlbury

Charlbury is a small but lively and vibrant market town that has escaped the hordes of Cotswold tourists, making it a justifiable member of the ‘Undiscovered Cotswold Club’, yet it is only an hour from London by train and just 15 minutes’ drive from Soho Farmhouse. The town is full of historic 17th and 18th century buildings, has great pubs, independent shops, and a local history museum. Charlbury sits in a beautiful valley, on the meandering River Evenlode surrounded by glorious Cotswold countryside with fabulous walking and cycling in all directions. To the southwest is the remainder of the ancient Wychwood Forest, part of which now makes up the Cornbury Park Estate, the setting for the annual Wilderness Festival.

  1. Cornbury Park Estate
  2. Wilderness Festival
  3. Heythrop Zoological Gardens
  4. Charlbury Farmer’s Market
  5. Diddly Squat Farm Shop
  6. Rousham House & Gardens
  7. Upton House
  8. Woodstock
  9. The Rollright Stones
  10. Blenheim Palace and Bladon
  1. Charlbury Museum
  2. Daylesford Organic Farm Shop
  3. Burford Garden Company
  4. Blenheim Palace and Bladon
  5. Charlbury Railway Station
  6. Antiques at Heritage
  7. Oxford’s Westgate Shopping Centre
  8. Kelmscott Manor
  9. Crocodiles of the World
  10. Charlbury Garden Centre and Soft Play Barn

Blenheim Palace
15-minute drive from Charlbury

As well as being a beautiful destination simply to explore the grounds and magnificent building, Blenheim Palace also hosts a selection of great events throughout the year. As well as this, Blenheim Palace offer a range of tours, including an Upstairs tour, Downstairs tour, and The Miniature Train tour, where you can ride between the Palace and the Walled Garden on the narrow-gauge railway. The great thing is, you can make your visit to Blenheim Palace as interactive, active, long or short as you want.

Charlbury Museum
Centre of Charlbury

A small museum, full of local interest. In five rooms of exhibits you can learn about the heritage of the Charlbury area. Learn about old inn signs, tools used by a local watchmaker, farming equipment, a blacksmith’s forge, and enjoy the large archive of old photos and genealogical records.

Chipping Norton Theatre
14-minute drive from Charlbury

The Theatre in Chipping Norton is a theatre, cinema, gallery, and concert hall. The small theatre makes a big impression, with great reviews from The Daily Mail, The Guardian, and Oxfordshire Life. Add some culture to your Cotswold stay and take in a show or film at Chipping Norton Theatre.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace
June

Each year, Blenheim Palace invites a sparkling lineup of bands to perform over five nights on the lawns in front of the Palace.

Blenheim Palace Events
Events held throughout the year

Blenheim Palace hosts some brilliant events throughout the year, including Bushcraft Activities, The Luna Open-Air Cinema, and Food Festival. So, whether you fancy a picnic in the grounds, or you’re up for some activities, Blenheim Palace is a great destination.

Charlbury Beer Festival
June

The Beer Festival features real ales, a range of ciders, wines, plus soft drinks; a great selection of food; and live music throughout. The venue is conveniently located in the centre of Charlbury. The Beer Festival raises money for community projects, both in the Charlbury area and overseas.

Charlbury Riverside Music Festival
July

A major fixture in Oxfordshire’s live music calendar, Riverside attracts over 30 acts playing over three stages and is completely free.

Charlbury Street Fair
September

A great family day out, involving the whole town with open gardens, music, food and drink stalls, fancy dress, Morris dancers, classic cars, a Street Fair Quiz, and much more. All of the money raised goes towards the upkeep of the town’s Corner House and War Memorial.

Chip Lit Fest
April

Chipping Norton Literary Festival is a great event for all ages. With short-story competitions, conversations with famous authors, and new novel introductions, Chip Lit Fest is a great way to indulge your bookish side in the Cotswolds.

Cornbury Music Festival (Great Tew Park)
July

When this Music Festival first came about, it was held at Cornbury Park Estate, hence its name, but as it grew the organisers had to find a new venue – Great Tew Park, 7.5 miles from Charlbury. In their words, the festival is “a homespun melting pot where music-lovers share pies and a glass of champagne with superstars, toffs, rockers, crooners, Morris dancers, farmers, urbanites, fashionistas, gourmet chefs …”

The Wilderness Festival at Cranbury Park Estate
August

Billed as a “boutique” and “posh” festival featuring music, the arts, food and wellbeing, all in the beautiful setting of Cornbury Park Estate.

Charlbury Farmer’s Market
Centre of Charlbury

This principally food-based market takes place on the Playing Close, a village green opposite the Cooperative food shop, on the second Saturday in March, June, September and December.

Charlbury Garden Centre and Soft Play Barn
9-minute drive from Charlbury

A garden centre with a lot more than plants! Visitors can browse the plant centre (indoor and outdoor), eat at the restaurant (breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea), and visit the indoor soft play barn.

Fairytale Farm
12-minute drive from Charlbury

Divided into six zones, including Huff and Puff, Enchanted Walk, and Fairy Dell, Fairytale Farm has something to keep the whole family entertained. With animals including pigs, goats, ponies, lambs, chickens, rabbits, alpacas, as well as an adventure playground, Fairytale Farm has enough to do to keep children entertained for hours. What’s more, because they’re having so much fun, it won’t feel like learning at all!

Silverstone Interactive Museum
52-minute drive from Charlbury

Housed in what was once a Second World War RAF hangar, Silverstone Interactive Museum is now an extremely popular visitor attraction. A treasure-trove of history and memorabilia, the museum is a must-visit for motorsport fans and petrol heads.

The Lido, Chipping Norton
12-minute drive from Charlbury

Described as an oasis of calm in a busy world, Chippy Lido offers open-air swimming in two heated pools: a 25-metre pool and a paddling pool for young children. Whether you are dedicated to getting to a certain number of lengths, or you simply want to splash around with your family, Chippy Lido is a lovely pool to visit.

Fairy Tale Farm

Five Ways Tandoori and Indian Takeaway
Centre of Charlbury
Perfect for: takeaway

Delicious Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine with a lot of variety.

The Bull Inn, Charlbury
Centre of Charlbury
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, bar snacks

The Bull is a local pub where you can instantly relax into a homely and warm atmosphere.

The Chequers, Churchill
14-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: bar snacks, lunch, dinner

A beautiful country pub with flagstone floors, scrubbed wooden tables, gourmet food, plus a great bar where you can enjoy a pint with the locals.

The Falkland Arms, Great Tew
13-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: bar snacks, lunch, and dinner

A traditional 16th century, Oxfordshire inn with flagstone floors, oak beams and an inglenook fireplace. There’s even a front and rear garden for sunny days.

The Hare, Milton under Wychwood
13-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, bar snacks

An ancient pub with a beautiful interior, offering everything from cask ales to three-course suppers.

The Kingham Plough, Kingham
17-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: sophisticated pub food, drinks, lunch, snacks

With great reviews and a menu that champions fresh and local ingredients, The Kingham Plough is a great destination for a pub lunch or evening drink.

The Wild Rabbit

The Kings Head, Bledington
17-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: lunch and dinner

A beautiful, award-winning Cotswold inn on the village green next to a stream. You can eat in the pretty garden, restaurant or at the bar.

The Old Mill Coffee House & Bistro
13-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: Full English breakfast, brunch, lunch, takeaway

The Old Mill is great when only a proper fry-up will do for breakfast. For lunch, try their freshly made sandwiches and salads or, if you just fancy coffee and cake – that’s delicious, too. A great all-round café in the heart of Chipping Norton.

The Old Shed at Banbury Hill Farm
4-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: lunch and afternoon tea

Set in the beautiful Evenlode Valley, you can soak up the scenery whatever the season whilst enjoying wonderful local freshly cooked food. And if you are too full for dessert, take some of their gorgeous homemade cakes home.

The Rose and Crown
Centre of Charlbury
Perfect for: drinks and bar snacks

A traditional pub with the emphasis on real ale – along with traditional cider and perry, Belgian and foreign beers, good value wines and old English fruit wines.

The Wild Rabbit, Kingham
16-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: lunch and dinner

Part of the Bamford / Daylesford empire, the Wild Rabbit has an award-winning kitchen producing ‘traditional British cooking with a contemporary twist’, using seasonal ingredients from the market garden at Daylesford Farm.

Wild Thyme
13-minute drive from Charlbury
Perfect for: dinner, lunch, drinks, takeaway, refined dining

Established in 2008 and quickly becoming a popular destination for locals and visitors to the Cotswolds, Wild Thyme has remained a destination for great food and hospitality, recently offering a takeaway service.

Bourton-on-the-Water Model Village
24-minute drive from Charlbury

The one-ninth scale replica is a charming and exquisitely detailed representation of the Cotswold town, and even has a model village within the model village!

Chipping Norton Lido
12-minute drive from Charlbury

Described as an oasis of calm in a busy world, Chippy Lido offers open air swimming in two heated pools: a 25-metre pool and a paddling pool for young children.

Cogges Manor Farm
19-minute drive from Charlbury

Cogges Farm hosts lots of events throughout the year, including festivals and workshops, in the grounds of their Grade II listed manor building. Enjoy a great walk through the meadow and woodland areas, have a picnic in the gardens, pet the farm animals, or combine all three for a fantastic memorable experience for adults and children alike.

Charlbury Deli & Café
Centre of Charlbury

Run by come 120 local stakeholders, the Charlbury Deli and Café serves and sells a wide range of local produce, including venison from the Cornbury Park Estate, locally made pies, a huge range of cheeses, olives, wines, beers and ciders and much more.

Daylesford Organic Farm and Café
9-minute drive from Charlbury

This hugely popular organic farm in the Cotswolds is where the Daylesford empire started alongside the highly regarded farm shop featuring seasonal fruit and vegetables, a butchers and fresh fish counter, artisan bread and award-winning cheese. You’ll also find home and garden treasures to buy as well as a café, restaurant, bar and the Bamford Wellness Spa.

Diddly Squat Farm Shop and Bar
12-minute drive from Charlbury

Jeremy Clarkson’s farm shop is as he describes it: “a Cotswolds-based emporium of edible delights. And potatoes.” The bar has a few tables overlooking the Big View.

Woodstock
15-minute drive from Charlbury

The traditional and historic market town of Woodstock is a lovely place to visit, with great independent shops and boutiques, the Antiques at Heritage centre and its own interesting history, with Blenheim Palace just a 10-minute walk away and Bladon, the site of Winston Churchill’s grave, 1.5 miles from the town centre.

Charlbury Railway Station
2-minute drive from Charlbury

The Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway opened the line through Charlbury in 1853. The company employed Isambard Kingdom Brunel as its engineer and one of his standard ‘chalet-type’ stations was used at Charlbury. The station, now a Grade II listed building, retains much of its original general appearance.

Ditchley Park and Mansion
8-minute drive from Charlbury

Take a walk along the footpaths around this beautiful private estate, with its rich history going back to the reign of Elizabeth I through to the Second World War, when Churchill used it as a secret base to meet the US envoy Harry Hopkins as he tried to win America’s support, and as a safe haven from German bombers. When not in use for conferences, private tours of the grounds and mansion can be booked.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Grave
18-minute drive from Charlbury

The UK’s venerated wartime leader was laid to rest in Bladon, two miles from Blenheim, in the graveyard of the Parish Church of St. Martin.

The Rollright Stones
17-minute drive from Charlbury

The Rollright Stones comprise the King’s Men stone circle, the King Stone, and the Whispering Knights. Over 5000 years old, this historic landmark is amongst the oldest and most historic in the area. Keep little ones entertained during a visit by counting and drawing the stones, and by singing the Rollright Chant!

Charlbury is in the beautiful Evenlode Valley, surrounded by glorious Cotswold countryside. To the south-west is the remainder of the ancient Wychwood Forest, part of which now makes up the Cornbury Park Estate. Until the 1980s, Wychwood was known as the Secret Forest because the landowner, Lord Rotherwick, only permitted public access on one day of the year – Palm Sunday. Following public pressure, Lord Rotherwick agreed to open a footpath from Patch Riding, in Finstock, to Waterman’s Lodge, near Charlbury. The gives walkers a glimpse of the beautiful estate, parkland and herds of deer.

Alternatively, take a walk eastwards from Charlbury along bridleways running alongside the River Evenlode to Ditchley Park Mansion. Walkers can also join the meandering Oxfordshire Way, which also passes through Charlbury town or follow the Finstock and Evenlode Walk – a fabulous five-mile loop that starts from the centre of the town, with a pub about halfway around in Finstock.

For more information about walking and cycling, take a look at our Walking and Cycling Guides online.

Bamford Wellness Spa
20-minute drive from Charlbury

Situated at Daylesford Organic Farm, Bamford Wellness Spa is a brilliant luxury spa that’ll leave you feeling totally relaxed. The spa focuses on holistic therapies which ensure your body and mind are in the best state to relax, unwind, and repair. As well as treatments, Bamford Wellness Spa also sells products that are kind to the planet, including sustainable and ethical clothing, homeware, and toiletries.

Heythrop Park Resort
12-minute drive from Charlbury

Relax, refresh and revive at Heythrop Park resort spa. The spa offers a wide range of treatments and spa packages and has a 20-metre heated indoor pool, sauna, and steam room. Feel the stresses and strains melt away as you relax in the beautiful surroundings.

Hidden Beauty Oxfordshire
13-minute drive from Charlbury

Hidden Beauty Oxfordshire is a small, intimate, and cosy beauty salon on Chipping Norton’s High Street. Offering specialised facial treatments, manicures and pedicures, and hair services, the salon will leave you feeling wonderful from head to toe!

Meadow Spa at Thyme
26-minute drive from Charlbury

The Meadow Spa at Thyme is a sheer haven of restorative calm and tranquillity. This botanical spa is a place of mindfulness and contemplation with a diverse menu of treatments and therapies. The Botanical Bothy is a new addition, with treatments using Sense of Nature products and fresh herbs as you unwind to the natural sound of cascading water.

Cornbury Park
2-minute drive from Charlbury

The Country Estate of The Lord Rotherwick includes 1,700 acres of ancient woodland. Once a royal hunting park, Cornbury Park is now home to a protected private forest, business enterprises, rental homes and is the setting for some well-known public events.

Cotswold Wildlife Park
20-minute drive from Charlbury

Home to one of the UK’s largest zoological collections and diverse gardens, the 160-acre park is home to more than 260 different species of animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. Daily activities include penguin feeding and the Madagascar walkthrough.

Crocodiles of the World
19-minute drive from Charlbury

Home to more than 150 crocodiles from 19 of the world’s 24 species of crocs! There are also meerkats, tamarins, giant tortoises, macaws and eagles. Visitors can enjoy keeper experiences, birthday parties and animal encounters.

Heythrop Zoological Gardens
13-minute drive from Charlbury

This is one of the Cotswolds’ best-kept secrets. Unlike other zoological gardens, Heythrop is designed to inspire people to develop a deeper connection with animals. Set in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside, it provides unforgettable, immersive experiences that educate about animal behaviour, handling and training.

Kelmscott Manor and Gardens
33-minute drive from Charlbury

The 17th century summer home with beautiful gardens of William Morris, the renowned British textile designer, artist, novelist, social activist and leading light of the Art and Crafts movement.

Rousham House & Gardens
22-minute drive from Charlbury

This beautiful garden, designed by William Kent – considered one of the fathers of British landscape design – is largely unchanged since its inception in the 18th century. It was described by Monty Don as “one of the greatest gardens in the world”.

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