Can you say you have been to the Cotswolds if you haven’t visited Castle Combe? It’s a picture-perfect village that embodies what this area is all about.
Castle Combe has history, architecture, natural beauty, and loads of charm. Let me share some of the best things to do in Castle Combe.
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- Where is Castle Combe?
- About Castle Combe
- Things to Do in Castle Combe
- Where can you park in Castle Combe?
- Things to Do Near Castle Combe
- When is the best time to visit Castle Combe?
- How long should you spend in Castle Combe?
- Where to Stay in Castle Combe
- Is Castle Combe Worth Visiting?
- Expert Tips for Your Visit to Castle Combe
Where is Castle Combe?
Castle Combe is located in the county of Wiltshire in the Cotswolds. It’s just a few miles south of the M4 between Junction 17 (Chippenham) and Junction 18 (Bath).
If you want to take a train from London, you can go to either Chippenham (about 5 miles away) or Bath (about 10 miles) and then take a taxi.
About Castle Combe
Castle Combe is arguably one of the prettiest villages in England. With no new houses built since the 1600s, it is a perfectly preserved slice of medieval history and architecture in the southernmost edge of the Cotswolds.
Only small earthworks remain of the castle that gave the village its name. Originally it was a hill fort which became occupied by the Romans due to its proximity to The Fosse Way. Centuries later the Normans built the fort up into a castle close to the site of the current day village.
By the Middle Ages, Castle Combe had become an important focal point for the wool industry. The mill was powered by the river, still known as By Brook.
Castle Combe has strict rules to protect its character and charm. Many of the cottages are hundreds of years old and are listed as ancient monuments. They are built with thick walls made with the local stone and split natural stone tile roofs. Some have names that honor the village’s past like Weaver’s House.
As you can imagine, the village has been used as a filming location many times. The most well-known movie filmed in and around Castle Combe is Doctor Doolittle from 1966. The village has also featured in ‘War Horse’, ‘Stardust’,’The Wolf Man’ and an ad for the watch company, Solvil et Titus.
Things to Do in Castle Combe
Castle Combe is more than just a pretty place as it has plenty to offer its visitors. Here are our recommendations for what to do.
#1 Take Photos
Castle Combe is a place that is so picturesque it almost doesn’t look real. It’s one of the reasons the village is a must for any romantic trip to the Cotswolds. There are photo opportunities at every turn, so you will definitely want to bring your camera.
The most instagrammable spot is probably by the bridge just past the center of the village (when walking from the parking lot). Cross the bridge and look back towards the village for the picture-perfect view.
#2 Have an Afternoon Tea Picnic
In Castle Combe, you can do something a little different from your typical traditional afternoon tea – an afternoon tea picnic. You can get everything you need from The Little Picnic Shop including the food, tea, a hamper, china, picnic blanket, games, and more.
It’s actually a lot of food too. You get sandwiches, sausage rolls, Spanish tortilla, scones with jam and clotted cream, and some desserts too. All you have to do is book in advance, pick it up, and then find a spot to picnic.
Read more about our afternoon tea picnic experience.
#3 Go Inside the Church
St. Andrew’s Church was originally founded in 13th century. The nave was added in the 14th century and the tower was completed in the 16th century. The church fell into disrepair and much had to be rebuilt in the mid-19th century.
When you enter the church, you can scan the QR code and do the digital tour. One of the highlights is the faceless medieval clock, believed to have been made by a local blacksmith, which is one of the oldest working clocks in England.
Be sure to also take a moment to sit and enjoy the peace of this lovely building. Look up and admire the woodwork.
It is free to go inside St. Andrew, but they ask that you donate £2 to help with operating costs.
#4 Take a Walk
The Cotswolds is known for its lovely walks and there are a few options in and around Castle Combe. Unfortunately, we were enjoying our afternoon picnic so much that we ran out of time to do one.
If you want to do a walk, you can download the Wiltshire Walks app to be your digital guide. There are three walks in the Castle Combe area ranging from 1 to 6 miles.
#5 Check out the Market
If you time your visit right, you may be able to catch the market held in the village on select days. Then you can check out local producers offering homemade food like pies, cakes, marmalade, jams, chutneys, and fudge. There will also be a selection of handmade jewelry, patchwork and quilting, hand knitted items, and ceramics.
Confirm dates for the market here.
#6 Have a Pint at a Pub
It’s always fun to end your day of sightseeing in a local pub. When in Castle Combe, the obvious choice is the White Hart, located in the center of the village by the Market Cross.
If the weather is nice, take advantage of the beautiful courtyard garden to the rear. Alternatively, they have a cozy bar and dining area, where they will have a roaring fire on cold winter days.
The pub offers traditional pub food, using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. They also have a great selection of real ales and wines.
If you want a place a little more upscale, head to the nearby Castle Inn.
#7 Dine at the Michelin-starred Restaurant, Bybrook
If you want to treat yourself, book a dinner at Bybrook. The chef, Robert Potter, focuses on sustainable home-grown and local produce with dishes that combine classic and modern cuisine.
Your evening starts with drinks and snacks are served in the bar. Then you move to the dining room for a set dinner. Each dish is presented flawlessly in an elegant atmosphere. They are also known for their friendly and attentive service.
Where can you park in Castle Combe?
The village of Castle Combe is not big enough for all the cars of all the visitors. Many cars are ticketed for trying to park where it is not allowed.
There is a free parking lot a short walk from the village that you should use. The walk to the village is downhill but remember you will have to go back up.
Things to Do Near Castle Combe
The village of Castle Combe is located near some other popular attractions. It might be worthwhile staying in the area a bit longer so that you can see these places less than an hour drive away.
Castle Combe Circuit
The West Country’s Home of Motorsport is located on the site of the former RAF Castle Combe airfield near the village. The Castle Combe Circuit has been hosting races, car shows, and events for over 65 years.
They have a full race season, along with adrenaline fuelled action days, live action shows, and a popular racing school. It’s a fun place for families, especially since those under 17 years old get free entry.
Tetbury is a town located in the southern part of the Cotswolds. It has a rich history and connections to the Royal Family. If you enjoy seeing historic landmarks, quaint streets, museums, shops, art galleries, and more, definitely check out this town. It’s also home to the famous Chipping Steps.
Read about more things to do in Tetbury.
The Lugbury Farm Barrow is important as much of the monument has survived intact and there are numerous Bronze Age burial monuments in the immediate area. While there have been two partial excavations of the site where they found 26 skeletons in four chambers, there is still potential to learn more through further archaeological studies.
The ancient monument is set on level ground above the valley of By Brook. The long barrow, measuring about 180 feet long, 124 feet wide and 4 feet high, is orientated east-west and appears rectangular in shape. By the eastern end of the mound are the remains of a limestone chamber with a capstone. There are also flanking ditches that run parallel to the mound but have been infilled over the years.
If you are interested in long barrows, you might also enjoy the Belas Knap walk.
Lacock Village and Abbey
Lacock is a village frozen in time. Since the village lost its main source of income from wool in the 19th century, there has been little development. It’s been a filming location for ‘Downton Abbey’, the BBC’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Cranford’, ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ and ‘Wolfman’.
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You can walk around the village to see the traditional stone cottages, old workhouse, medieval tithe barn, village church, and more. The biggest attraction, though, is the Abbey.
Lacock Abbey was transformed over the years into a quirky country house with its own woodland grounds. You can go inside the medieval rooms and learn about the history including seeing the spot where the earliest surviving photographic negative was taken.
There is also a museum that celebrates the achievements of former Lacock resident, William Henry Fox Talbot, famous for his contributions to the invention of photography. When we went, they also had an exhibition about the Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
Both the museum and the Abbey are National Trust sites, so free for members. Get more information about National Trust membership here.
Just a 15-minute drive south of Castle Combe you will find Corsham Court, an English country house in a park designed by Capability Brown (who also designed the grounds of Blenheim Palace and Chatsworth House among many others).
It is the home of the present Baron Methuen, James Methuen-Campbell, who is the eighth generation of the Methuens to live here. Corsham Court is known for its art collections which include paintings inherited in 1757 by Paul Methuen from his uncle, Sir Paul Methuen, the diplomat.
They have limited opening hours for the State Rooms and Gardens so check here before you go.
Avebury is the largest stone circle in Britain (originally with about 100 stones) and a must visit for anyone curious about prehistoric Britain. There is henge that goes around the stone circle and part of the Avebury village.
It is free to visit Avebury and you can walk right up and touch the stones. While you are in the area you can also see several other ancient monuments including West Kennet Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, The Sanctuary, Windmill Hill, and Silbury Hill.
When is the best time to visit Castle Combe?
Castle Combe is one of the most popular spots in the Cotswolds, so I would still recommend visiting in the spring or fall rather than the summer when everyone is out exploring.
How long should you spend in Castle Combe?
The village is small so you should be able to see it in a day. You might want to stay longer to explore more of the area around Castle Combe.
Where to Stay in Castle Combe
As you can imagine, there is high demand for hotels in Castle Combe especially during the summer months. If you are on a budget, it might be best to consider options in Chippenham, which is only a short drive away.
If you are not worried about the price, definitely go for The Manor House. It’s fine 14th century manor house with 365 acres of formal gardens and parkland offering Michelin starred dining and a championship golf course. Each room and suite is individually designed and furnished.
The Castle Inn is another upscale option for accomodation in Castle Combe. It’s a recently restored 12th century inn in the heart of the village with a classic pub. Their 12 en suite bedrooms each have their own unique character.
Is Castle Combe Worth Visiting?
Yes! It’s a charming village that has some unique offerings that you won’t want to miss. Additionally, the area around Castle Combe has several attractions that are must dos.Have you been to Castle Combe in England?
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Last Updated on February 15, 2023