Your Guide to
Tetbury and Malmesbury
“From Kings to Tigers and Flying Monks”
The historic market towns of Tetbury and Malmesbury sit just five miles apart on the edge of the Cotswolds. Each has tales to tell from the past 1,000 years and are typical Cotswold market towns with streets of honey-coloured stone and eye-catching architecture.
Tetbury is a haven for vintage and antique shopping and for passionate foodies. With around 25 antique stores in the town and an abundance of stylish restaurants and independent pubs and cafes you won’t be short of places to go. Regular markets are held at the ancient Market House and the popular Highgrove shop is located on the high street. Just outside the town you can visit the gardens of Highgrove, the private residence of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
Malmesbury is known for its abbey under which lies King Athelstan. Nicknamed the ‘Queen of the Hilltop Towns’ it sits atop a flat hill with the River Avon circling it.
Malmesbury has an interesting past with tales of the first person in England to be killed by a tiger, a monk attempting to fly and an MP who disappeared with his hot air balloon. It is a vibrant town which hosts a number of events throughout the year and a weekly farmers and artisans’ market. Full of beautiful 17th and 18th century buildings, this charming town is waiting to be discovered.
We hope you enjoy your stay in this much-loved part of the Cotswolds. To help you plan your days we’ve put together a collection of our favourite experiences so you can make the most of your time with our Tetbury and Malmesbury Guide.
You may recognise this unique Elizabethan manor house thanks to its on-screen popularity, with the likes of Poldark, the acclaimed Wolf Hall and BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford all having been filmed here. Built in 1383, just two families have owned Chavenage since Tudor times. This is a fascinating family home with relics dating back to the 17th century. You must book a tour in advance to visit the house.
The gardens of the family residence of King Charles III and Queen Camilla can be visited on a pre-arranged tour. After exploring the gardens, be sure to head to The Orchard Restaurant for a bite to eat. They serve delicious daily dishes created using the finest organic ingredients.
Located next door to the iconic abbey, the Abbey House Gardens are over 1,300 years old. The first king of England lies buried somewhere in the grounds and two saints were allegedly thrown into the well. Today it is considered one of the finest gardens in the country with huge, herbaceous borders, a Celtic cross knot garden, 2,000 different roses and more than 100,000 tulips.
Coaley Peak is a 12-acre grassland site on the Cotswold escarpment. It includes Frocester Hill viewpoint and the fascinating Nympsfield long barrow – the remains of a Neolithic burial site complete with burial chambers – now managed by English Heritage. The site has a fantastic panoramic view over the Severn Vale and is a great place to fly kites. On a clear day you can see over the River Severn with a backdrop of the Forest of Dean and the Welsh hills beyond.
This spectacular 600-acre arboretum offers nature lovers of all ages a memorable day out destination whatever the weather. Westonbirt has over 15,000 trees from around the world. Using the Tree Spotter’s Guide, keep your eyes peeled for rare species. Wander amidst the treetops on the award-winning STIHL Treetop Walkway, or head off on one of the guided walks. Visitors in Autumn are in for a particular treat, as the trees put on an incredible leaf-changing display which carpets the area in red and golden hues. Dogs are welcome off-lead in Silk Wood if kept in sight and return when called.
This historic 3,000-acre estate owned by the Bathurst Family boasts a beautiful 19th-century parkland designed by Alexander Pope, which the public are free to enjoy at their leisure. Accessible via entrance gates on Cecily Hill, little ones will love stretching their legs here, whilst older visitors will enjoy taking in the stunning landscapes. Dogs are welcome too, just take care to stick to the designated walking areas.
The Cotswold Craftsmen Gallery is a combination of mini shops showing off a wide range of work designed and made by up to 12 local craftspeople selling ceramics, jewellery, paintings, glassware and more. Why not visit for a chat with the artists and perhaps commission a unique piece of Cotswold art?
The hugely impressive present-day Abbey dates from 1180. It was added to over the following 200 years and then in the 1400s the great spire, then tower collapsed. Today, just the nave remains, but it’s well worth a visit. You can find out more about the Abbey at the Athelstan Museum, also in Malmesbury.
Ruskin Mill is a delightful, peaceful arts and crafts centre where local specialists train young people with learning difficulties from all parts of the country. There is a lovely walk through the valley next to the various trout ponds and lakes, as well as a café and sometimes exhibitions and crafts for sale.
The Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre is housed in the old Tetbury branch line goods shed. The space is a regional centre of excellence for arts in the south Cotswolds. The Shed hosts a wide range of fabulous music, art and theatre.
The Police Museum in the Old Court House houses the Alex R Nichols Collection of ‘Handcuffs and Other Restraints’ alongside other policing memorabilia from across Gloucestershire.
This superb local museum is located in the Town Hall and laid out around a timeline which links Malmesbury with local, national and global events. Alongside the town’s rich history, you’ll learn about Eilmer the flying monk and Walter Powell, an ill-fated balloonist. Discover the town’s lace making and silk industry and an artwork collection including a notable painting by JMW Turner of Malmesbury Abbey.
Every year in May, one of the biggest events in the world’s equestrian calendar comes to the spectacular Badminton Estate. Over three days there are thrilling competitions, amazing horse displays and over 500 stands dedicated to food, drink and country pursuits.
Explore the history of the Great Western Railway, enjoy the interactive exhibits in the signal box and become an engine driver in the steam train simulator. Get up close and personal to the locomotives from a bygone era and see what life was like on the railways.
Held in Charlton Park since 2007, WOMAD – the world of music, art and dance – is a fabulous and diverse international art festival. From the outset the name reflects the idea that the festival is embracing, inspiring and enthusiastic about a world connecting people through music and dance.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
A charming English country pub with a refined take on pub grub classics, offering a seasonally changing menu of light bites, specialty burgers, gastro-pub staples and meats from the grill.
Perfect for: breakfast, coffee and cake, lunch
A small but welcoming coffee bar serving coffee, a range of loose teas and homemade cakes. A menu of breakfast and lunch options will keep you well fuelled.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
An upmarket, bistro-bar with a stylish vibe, offering a refined selection of freshly made dishes, wines and drinks.
Perfect for: drinks, lunch, dinner
A classic Cotswold pub at the heart of Sherston village, serving a wide range of dishes from their country bistro menus with a ‘modern interpretation of pub classics’ and locally brewed drinks, including their own sloe gin. There are a number of special menus with pie and a pint on Wednesdays and steak night Tuesdays.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, pre-dinner drinks, dinner, afternoon tea
A beautiful hotel with an excellent restaurant that’s perfect for special occasions. The menu changes with the seasons and offers a wide choice, catering to all tastes. Book a table for a special occasion and enjoy a Sunday roast or an elegant afternoon tea.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Calcot Manor has dining options to suit your mood. The Brasserie is an elegant dining room overlooking the garden. You can choose from the a la carte menu for lunch, dinner or afternoon tea. Alternatively, The Hive is a stylish lounge serving brunch and light bites or you can choose to have afternoon tea here.
Perfect for: drinks, lunch, dinner, Sunday roast
An inn with a pub and restaurant, offering freshly cooked dishes using locally sourced ingredients, 90% of which have been sourced from within a 30-mile radius of Tetbury. A good option for family eating out, with everything from wood-fired pizzas and gourmet burgers to steaks and hearty salads on the menu.
Perfect for: drinks, lunch, dinner
A fantastic pub with a distinctly rustic-chic feel. Menus are creative, British and showcase the best of the season’s produce, offering hearty classics and more refined mains. Cocktails here are also well worth the visit.
Perfect for: drinks, lunch, dinner
Sitting just over the road from The Potting Shed is its refined big sister, The Rectory Hotel and Restaurant with an excellent reputation thanks to its highly acclaimed chef team. Here, expect more elegant, upmarket dining, described as ‘classic food with a contemporary edge’. A place for a special dining occasion.
Perfect for: drinks, lunch, dinner
A classic Cotswolds inn with delicious organic food and a great selection of real ales, The Royal Oak offers a changing seasonal menu. During summer their outdoor Airstream hatch serves world street food.
Perfect for: drinks, breakfast, lunch, dinner
One of Tetbury’s most iconic establishments, The Snooty Fox bar and restaurant serves informal all-day dining options, with a strong focus on locally sourced ingredients.
Perfect for: drinks, breakfast (Saturday only), lunch, dinner
This out-of-town bar, cafe and restaurant serves a wide range of dishes with menu highlights including charcuterie boards and tasty salads. It was named in honour of its often tragic past.
Perfect for: morning coffee, light lunch, afternoon tea
The licensed Whistle Stop Cafe is at the Tetbury Goods Shed arts centre. The café is one of Tetbury’s go-to places for great coffee, delicious cakes and freshly cooked food. Seating is open air or under an awning. Children can play in the adjacent all-wood play area overlooked by the café. Check the website for opening times.
Perfect for: dinner, Sunday lunch, special occasions
Grey’s Brasserie is the more relaxed of the dining options at Whatley Manor with a menu based around the availability of seasonal produce. The Dining Room is an experience of culinary delights with their set menu and wine flights.
Perfect for: dinner, tapas, wine
Lola & Co is the brainchild of a Spanish family who wanted to bring both the flavours and ambiance of the Mediterranean to the Cotswolds. Within a setting that is very much old England, enjoy a fabulous tapas menu where you can linger over a good meal with a great glass of wine and see how food brings people together.
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch
Open Tuesday to Saturday, Michael’s is a renowned Malmesbury butcher with a bistro and deli attached. Perfect for casual dining, breakfast dishes include their own sausages and home-cured ham, sandwiches feature items fresh from the deli and there is a selection of hot dishes including jacket potatoes and burgers.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
The Radnor Arms is a family-run, 400-year-old village pub offering a traditional atmosphere, wood-burning stoves, a beer garden and a varied menu of pub classics to suit all tastes.
Perfect for: dinner, afternoon tea, Sunday lunch, cocktails
Lying within the elegant walls of the Old Bell Hotel, the Abbey Row restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and serves meals in the historic dining room. Across the ceiling 8,000 gold stars have been hand painted making this a magical choice.
Perfect for: dinner
Tucked away in the village of Little Somerford just a short drive from Malmesbury, the Somerford Arms is a thriving, free-house pub offering a warm welcome and a relaxed atmosphere. The pub is dog-friendly, child-friendly and serves a really lovely menu of interesting dishes and traditional pub classics.
Perfect for: dinner, takeaway
The Birdcage is an authentic pizzeria offering a large menu of traditional Italian dishes including antipasti, thin-crust pizzas, stromboli, pasta and delicious desserts. A takeaway menu is also available.
Did you know?
Eilmer the Monk strapped a pair of wings to his arms and feet and launched himself from the roof of Malmesbury Abbey. He landed 200 metres away and survived but with two broken legs.
This unfinished Grade I listed Victorian Gothic Revival mansion, designed by Benjamin Bucknall, was abandoned in 1868 after 16 years of building work. It has been carefully preserved but was never finished. On open days you can admire the fascinating inner detail. The Park has some lovely, circular woodland walks, lakes and ponds, including a children’s adventure trail complete with mini zipline.
This family run, boutique vineyard and winery in the South Cotswolds has three sites in the Stroud Valleys producing rosé, white and sparkling wines. Grape varieties include Bacchus, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Ortega. Vineyard and winery tours include a Friday fizz and chips evening tour and the vineyard and dog walk tour, or pop into their cellar just outside the centre of Nailsworth.
Painswick – also known as the Queen of the Cotswolds – has the highest number of listed buildings of any village in England. The Rococo Garden, less than a mile from the centre of the village, is the only surviving garden of the Rococo period that is open to the public. Rococo garden design was light-hearted, flamboyant and was often used as theatrical backdrops to lavish garden parties.
The spectacular Cotswold Water Park is a haven for the active, sporty and outdoor-loving. With 180 lakes you can explore on water, on wheels or on foot. Trails criss-cross the area and a host of watersports are available including sailing, rowing, stand up paddleboarding and canoeing. There is so much to see and do here, it is definitely a ‘must visit’.
Spend a day visiting this historic market town which has not lost its beauty over time. The market place sits in front of St John Baptist church, one of the largest in England, and regular markets are still held here today. Learn more about the Roman history of this region at the Corinium Museum. You can then explore the remains of the amphitheatre just outside the centre of town.
Heavily influenced by the designs of William Morris, Rodmarton Manor is a spectacular example of the Arts and Crafts style. Filled with handcrafted items, it is dedicated to Cotswold craftsmanship. Outside, the eight-acre gardens include a rockery, herbaceous borders and a kitchen garden. It is particularly beautiful in February when some 150 species of snowdrops cover the grounds.
If you visit Tetbury in May you can take part in the Wacky Races on May Day with a homemade soapbox racer, or challenge yourself to the Woolsack Race on the late bank holiday by lugging a 60-pound sack of wool up and down a steep hill
This beautiful castle has been in the Berkeley family for 900 years, with the family able to trace their history from father to son back to the Saxon era. A family ticket includes entrance to this fairytale castle and gardens. For children there is a Dragon Trail through the grounds, Jester Explorer sheets to follow the Jester through the castle and entrance to the wooded play area.
Take a visit to the tropics without stepping foot on a plane. Discover the beautiful butterflies, tropical fish, intriguing insects and fabulous reptile house of the Butterfly World and Farm Park. You can even see a giant tortoise and mischievous meerkats. Afterwards, head for the farm park where the geese, chickens, pigs and sheep are waiting to greet you.
A wonderful, guided adventure suitable for families, couples, or solos in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. These fully electric, sit-on three-wheeled scooters are easy to control and drivers can be aged from 12 years upwards. After a test ride and safety briefing, you’ll head out on the 6km route of grassy farm paths, muddy tracks, and woodland trails.
The Commons are known for their wonderful walks and beautiful views. They also provide, perhaps, the best sunrises and sunsets that the Cotswolds has to offer. Here you’ll find a huge variety of limestone-loving wildflowers and rare butterflies that can be seen from spring right through to the autumn. The Commons are open, public land (shared with freely wandering cows and sheep), with plenty of spots to unfold a blanket, set out a picnic and enjoy nature at its best. They are one of the best places to fly a kite on the thermals that flow up the edge of the Cotswolds.
Whether you’re a keen twitcher or not, there’s plenty to discover all year round at this 100-acre wetland paradise. Enjoy amazing wildlife up-close, including wetland superstars of the feathery and mammal kind. With experiences to suit all ages, including a canoe safari and wetland safari, and a huge variety of wildlife, it is no surprise that this fabulous centre is an award-winning day out.
Retreat to Calcot Spa to relax and revive. They offer seasonal wellness remedies and holistic treatments alongside traditional choices. After your treatment, their wonderful outdoor hot tub takes you away to another world.
This beautiful spa encapsulates the history of the Bath waters in stunning surroundings. The spa includes a circuit of natural thermal pools beneath a four-storey glass atrium.
You can choose to visit the Thermae Bath Spa for a two-hour experience and spend time in the thermal pools, or also add on a treatment for a truly relaxing experience. Enjoy views across Bath from the rooftop pool for a really special day.
Alongside a treatment menu Lucknam Park also has a range of mind and body sessions including massage and a dry floatation experience. The award-winning facilities include thermal rooms, swimming pools and a lounge.
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Please Note: Information correct at time of publishing. Please check the destination/attraction direct website before visiting to confirm opening hours and visitor details.