Nestled in the picturesque Cotswold hills, Tetbury is a charming town that offers visitors a taste of quintessential English life. Known for its historic architecture, quaint shops, and stunning countryside, Tetbury is one of the places in Gloucestershire you will want to explore.
Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply in search of a romantic Cotswolds getaway like we were, Tetbury has something for everyone. Let me share some of the best things to do in Tetbury and the surrounding area.
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- Where is Tetbury?
- About Tetbury
- Things to Do in Tetbury
- #1 Take Photos at Chipping Steps
- #2 See the Market House
- #3 Visit St. Mary of the Virgin & St Mary Magdalen Church
- #4 Look around Highgrove Shop
- #5 Go to the Tetbury Police Museum & Courthouse
- #6 Go Antiquing
- #7 Check out the Goods Shed
- #8 Browse the Art Galleries and Exhibitions
- #9 Walk/Cycle the Tetbury Trail
- #10 Enjoy an Afternoon Tea
- #11 Attend one of Tetbury’s Events and Festivals
- Things to Do Near Tetbury
- How Long Should You Spend in Tetbury?
- Where to Stay in Tetbury
- Is Tetbury worth visiting?
- Expert Tips for Visiting Tetbury
Where is Tetbury?
Tetbury is located in the county of Gloucestershire in the Cotswolds. It’s 12 miles southwest of the market town of Cirencester on the A433, with easy access to the M4 and M5 motorways.
Since the railway station in Tetbury closed in 1964, the nearest one is now at Kemble, 7.5 miles away. The nearest major airport is Bristol, 35 miles away.
Tetbury is the second largest town in the Cotswolds. It lies on the site of an ancient hill fort where an Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded, probably by Ine of Wessex, late in the 7th century. The made its name as an important market for Cotswold wool and yarn during the Middle Ages.
Today, it is known for its boutique shopping, food, and Royal Connections. King Charles and Queen Camilla have their country estate, Highgrove House, just outside the town.
Things to Do in Tetbury
Tetbury caters to a diverse range of interests and offers something for everyone. Here are our top recommendations for activities to enjoy in this charming town.
#1 Take Photos at Chipping Steps
This is one of the most instagramable places in the Cotswolds! The Chipping was the old market place and now also has a parking lot. The steps lead down from here and are lined with charming cottages.
These cute houses date from the 17th century and are still people’s homes. At the bottom of the steps there is a disused churchyard, where an early 18th century chapel once stood.
You’ll want to bring your camera and take a few photos but please be respectful of those that live here. It’s also a good idea to go early for better lighting and less people.
#2 See the Market House
You can’t miss the pretty Market House in the center of Tetbury. The Grade I listed building is still used today for markets, exhibitions, and meetings.
The Tetbury market is held on Wednesdays under the Market House. It usually starts at around 9am and goes on until about 3pm. While we did not visit on a Wednesday, there were still a few vendors selling goods there.
The iconic building was built in 1655. In 1817, the Market House was renovated and the upper floor was removed.
It played a pivotal role in Tetbury’s economic success during the 17th and 18th centuries as this is where they would sell wool and yarn. At one time, it was the place where the town’s fire engine was stored and it also served as a lock-up until the Police Station was completed.
#3 Visit St. Mary of the Virgin & St Mary Magdalen Church
The first thing you will probably notice about St. Mary of the Virgin Church in Tetbury is the spire which is 187 feet tall. Step inside and you will be impressed by the chandelier, stained glass, and box pews.
There has been a church on this site since the 7th century, but most of the current church was built in the late 18th century. The previous church was damaged in a storm in the late 17th century and fell into disrepair. The 14th century tower and spire were not rebuilt until 1891 and they used the original stones.
While the building is primarily a parish church, its excellent acoustics make it ideal for musical performances. Concerts are held throughout the year and Tetbury Music Festival (begun in 2003) take place during the first week of October each year.
#4 Look around Highgrove Shop
If you are looking for a gift for the Anglophile in your life or maybe just want something traditionally British for yourself, the Highgrove Shop is a must. This store is an outlet of King Charles III’s Highgrove Estate.
You can buy products that earned King Charles III’s approval and/or were made or grown on the Highgrove Estate. I have to admit we found several items that were interesting including honey, wine, and fudge.
As you might guess, it’s not a cheap shop, so if you are on a budget and easily tempted, proceed with caution.
#5 Go to the Tetbury Police Museum & Courthouse
Inside the old Victorian police station and courthouse, there is a museum dedicated to the history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary. They have special activities for kids, but it’s also interesting for adults.
You can see Gloucestershire police artifacts including uniforms, lights, batons, handcuffs, and photographs along with the largest collection of handcuffs and restraints on public view in the UK. There is a life-size magistrates’ court scene with audio commentary along with “cold case files” displays where you can listen to calls that might have been made to the Victorian police station.
Admission is free but it is only open Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:00 to 15:00.
#6 Go Antiquing
Tetbury is definitely one of the best towns in the Cotswolds when it comes to antique shopping. You can find several antiques dealers located on Long Street and Church Street that attract casual shoppers, antique hunters, even some celebrities.
If you walk along Long Street from the Market Hall, you will find Trilogie Antiques – a collective of well-established dealers offering antique and country furniture in a beautiful period building. Other antique shops you don’t want to miss are Top Banana, Lorfords, and Porch House.
#7 Check out the Goods Shed
The Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre is a restored railway storage building recently converted to host a wide-variety of live music, films, performances, talks, workshops, and children’s activities. They also have a regularly changing series of art exhibitions that are free to visit.
You will also want to check out their cafe. They serve coffee and hot drinks, cooked food, cakes, and treats. We had cruffins (cross between a croissant and muffin) which were amazing and huge!
There is plenty of seating inside the stylish train carriage and outside around the Goods Shed. Kids will love the all-wood Playstation play area.
The main hall and cafe are usually open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, but it can vary. Check the schedule to confirm what’s on here.
#8 Browse the Art Galleries and Exhibitions
Tetbury has a thriving art scene, with a number of galleries and exhibitions showcasing works from both local and international artists. Whether you’re an art lover or just appreciate beautiful things, Tetbury’s art galleries offer a fantastic opportunity to discover unique and inspiring pieces.
Most of Tetbury’s art galleries are on Long Street. Some of the most popular ones include the Spencer House Gallery and Gallery B R. The Goods Shed also has art exhibitions.
#9 Walk/Cycle the Tetbury Trail
The Tetbury Trail is a multi-use path where the old railway line once stood. The Tetbury Rail Lands Regeneration Trust is working on extending it.
The route is well signposted, making it easy to navigate. You can find the start of the trail by the Goods Shed where there is also an exercise trail. Currently it ends by Grove Park.
Learn more about it here.
#10 Enjoy an Afternoon Tea
Having afternoon tea is a popular pastime in Tetbury, and there are several places in town where you can enjoy this traditional English experience. If you want to have afternoon tea in Tetbury, check out these highly-rated options.
The Close Hotel: This elegant hotel in the heart of Tetbury serves traditional afternoon tea in their lounge or garden. Expect classic finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and a selection of cakes and pastries. Read reviews here.
The Snooty Fox: This historic coaching inn offers a classic afternoon tea in their lounge or bar, complete with a selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes, and pastries, and a choice of tea or coffee. Read reviews here.
Alternatively, you might like to have an afternoon tea picnic in nearby Castle Combe.
#11 Attend one of Tetbury’s Events and Festivals
Tetbury hosts several big annual events throughout the year that attract visitors from all over the world. You might want to consider planning your trip for one of these festivals.
Tetbury Woolsack Races: This annual competition started in 1972 and requires participants to carry a 60-pound sack of wool up and down the steep Gumstool Hill. It might be more fun to watch than participate in this race that takes place on the last Monday of May.
Tetbury Food and Drink Festival: This popular annual event takes place in September and celebrates the best local food and drink from the local area. Visitors can sample artisan cheeses, locally produced ales, and more, while enjoying live music and entertainment.
Tetbury Music Festival: This week-long music festival takes place each October at St. Mary of the Virgin & St Mary Magdalen Church and features a variety of concerts and events showcasing a range of musical styles and genres.
Christmas in Tetbury: The town comes alive during the holiday season with a variety of festive events and activities, including a Christmas market, carol singing, lantern parade, and the annual Christmas lights switch-on.
Things to Do Near Tetbury
While the town of Tetbury has a lot to offer visitors, there are a few other attractions nearby that you might also want to check out.
Highgrove House Gardens
While Highgrove is the private home of Their Royal Highnesses The King and The Queen and not open to the public, you can visit the Gardens between April and October. A range of tours are available and must be booked in advance.
From the classic order of the Cottage Garden, to the natural beauty of the Wildflower Meadow, there are highlights in every season. They have transformed a landscape which was once simply a lawn into a magnificent, colorful, ever-changing canvas. Since it is managed organically and sustainably, the gardens are a haven for a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Learn more about it here.
Cotswolds Sculpture Park
The Cotswolds Sculpture Park is a beautiful outdoor sculpture exhibition set in the stunning Cotswold countryside, just a short drive from Tetbury. You can take a leisurely stroll through the 15 acre park enjoying a wide range of contemporary sculptures by both established and up-and-coming artists along with the natural surroundings.
The park is open April through September (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). They have a cafe or picnic tables for those that want to bring their own food. Admission is £7 per person, but parking is free.
Find out more here.
Nymspfield and Uley Long Barrows
You can visit two Neolithic long barrows not too far from Tetbury. It’s a 15 minute drive to the Coaley Peak viewpoint where you can park and find the Nymspfield Long Barrow. From there it is about a mile walk to see the Uley Long Barrow.
The Nymspfield Long Barrow barrow is approximately oval in shape, measuring 98 feet from east to west and 82 feet from north to south at the western end. During the various excavations the remains of at least thirteen human skeletons and Neolithic pottery were found.
Uley Long Barrow is a 120-foot-long chambered mound from the Neolithic period that has been partially reconstructed. The local name for the site is Hetty Pegler’s Tump, in reference to Hester Pegler, who owned the land during the 17th century. When you visit, you can enjoy panoramic views over the Severn Valley.
If you want to see another long barrow in the Cotswolds, you could also do the Belas Knap walk, although it is about 45 minutes drive from Tetbury.
Westonbirt National Arboretum
The Westonbirt National Arboretum has one of the largest collections of trees and shrubs in the world, with over 18,000 specimens from around the globe. You can explore the grounds on one of several walking trails of varying lengths.
While the Westonbirt National Arboretum is open year-round, there are a few times of the year when the site really shines. In the spring, the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom, and in the fall, the colors of the deciduous trees are breathtaking.
The admission fee varies by the season, but parking is free. There is a cafe on site along with picnic tables.
Find out more here.
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. When you visit Castle Combe it feels like you have stepped back in time. With its pretty natural scenery, historic architecture, and range of activities and events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Castle Combe.
Learn more about things to do in Castle Combe.
How Long Should You Spend in Tetbury?
If you’re just looking to explore the town center and visit a few shops and attractions, a few hours in Tetbury may be sufficient. However, if you want to visit the nearby gardens, go for a walk on the Tetbury Trail, and visit some of the local antique shops and art galleries, you may want to plan to spend a full day or two in the town.
Alternatively, you could stay for a few days (or even weeks) and use Tetbury as a base for exploring the wider Cotswolds region.
Where to Stay in Tetbury
If you want to spend more that a day in Tetbury, you will probably need a place to stay. Luckily, there are a few appealing options that are right in the town center.
The Close Hotel
Stay in a historic townhouse, dating back to 1535, with free Wi-Fi, free parking and an on-site restaurant. The rooms are all individually decorated with a mix of antique and modern touches. Wake up to a tasty cooked breakfast made with locally sourced ingredients. Many of Tetbury’s shops and restaurants are within a 5-minute walk.
Read reviews of The Close Hotel here.
Check price and availability for the Close Hotel here.
The Ormond Hotel
The Ormond hotel is an elegant 18th-century Cotswold inn with stylish rooms and award-winning food. Each room is individually decorated and features LCD TVs, oak-beamed ceilings and tea/coffee-making facilities. Guests can enjoy a drink in the bar area or dine in the candlelit restaurant, which serves seasonal British food made from locally sourced ingredients.
Read reviews of The Ormond Hotel here.
Check price and availability for the Ormond Hotel here.
Is Tetbury worth visiting?
Yes, with its charming atmosphere, beautiful countryside, and rich history, Tetbury offers a special experience for visitors. From exploring historic landmarks and museums to strolling through idyllic gardens and countryside, there are plenty of things to see and do in Tetbury. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply looking for peace and quiet, Tetbury is a town that should not be missed.
Have you been to Tetbury?
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