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Yes, I remember ...


The only real street in Adlestrop

Adlestrop is for me one of the loveliest of Cotswold villages, made all the lovelier because very few people seem to know it or come here, despite the fact that it features in a well-known English poem. There is perhaps not much of note here, but that is part of its charm. A sleepy village street, lined with chocolate-box-pretty cottages; a thatched village shop still surviving when many in the country have sadly closed; a small green and a cricket pitch.

A cottage in Adlestrop

This is the England that someone who has never been here might conjure up from old movies, thinking that most of us live in just such a place (although in fact only 80 people inhabit this tiny village). If you have an image of a perfect English village in your head and want to bring it to life, Adlestrop could be the place for you.

A famous poem

Bus shelter

Adlestrop was immortalised by Edward Thomas, one of my favourite poets, in a poem first published in 1917. The poem describes an uneventful journey Thomas took on 23 June 1914 on an Oxford to Worcester express. Like several other poets, he is closely associated with the First World War period, but unlike them he wrote mostly, not of the war, but of the England for which he believed the soldiers were fighting. This is possibly a rather idealised picture of a pastoral idyll that was already being changed by industrialisation, but even today pockets of his England remain, and unspoiled Adlestrop is one of them.

Today a seat at a bus stop near the entrance to the village bears a plaque with the poem’s verses, and above it is a sign from the railway station that inspired them.

Adlestrop, by Edward Thomas

Yes. I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Jane Austen in Adlestrop

The village also has another literary connection, with one of my favourite novelists, Jane Austen, who is known to have visited at least three times between 1794 and 1806 when Rev. Thomas Leigh, her mother’s cousin, was vicar, living at the Old Rectory. Jane Austen is thought to have drawn inspiration from the village and its surroundings for her novel Mansfield Park. The rectory is now known as Adlestrop House and is just by the churchyard. Although it’s not open to the public it's possible to peer through the gates and get a sense of the lovely views it commands - views that must be largely unchanged since Austen's time.

A house opposite the church

View with part of Adlestrop House

St. Mary Magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene's church in Adlestrop sits on a knoll at the end of the village street, which here turns into a track. The tower is the first thing to catch the eye. This is 14th century, and consists of three stages, with the lowest serving as the church porch. Much of the rest of church was rebuilt between 1750 and 1764, though so sympathetically that the building retains much of its earlier feel.

The oldest part is the 13th century chancel arch, on either side of which are two 18th century memorials set high into the wall. These are to members of the Leigh family, relatives of Jane Austen’s mother. Other reminders of the same family can be found elsewhere in the church, including gravestones set into the floor of the chancel and memorial windows.

Adlestrop church, and a Leigh memorial

Talking of windows, many of them have lovely stained glass, and were looking especially good on the sunny day when we last visited. Look out too for the 15th century font.

Stained glass window

The peaceful churchyard has some 17th century chest tombs, a cast iron entry gate and lantern which commemorates Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and a sundial built to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth in 2002. A rare Elizabethan memorial (from 1594) is built into the exterior south wall of the chancel. From this churchyard you can look past Adlestrop House to the beautiful rolling hills beyond - the view in my photo above. I like to stand here and think that Jane Austen too would have stood and admired this very same view, perhaps after attending a service taken by her mother's cousin. And you can't get more quintessentially English than that!

Posted by ToonSarah 06:54 Archived in England Tagged monument history views church village houses poetry literature cotswolds author world_war_one

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Those cottages are so beautiful. Makes me feel quite homesick.

by irenevt

Hello, Sarah! I also enjoy visiting such gems, especially those immortalized by great artists, writers and poets...

by Vic_IV

I did not know about Adlestrop,sad i missed it. Stay Safe. Alec.

by alectrevor

What a beautiful village.
I also love the poem. It's a pity that Edward Thomas did not get off the train. He could have written an even more beautiful poem, had he seen the village.

by Kathrin_E

Thank you all :) Yes, it's a beautiful village but not so well known as some others in the Cotswolds so I'm not so surprised you missed it Alec - another time, I hope.

I'm glad you liked the poem, Kathrin :) He would have written a different poem had he got off the train, but not necessarily a more beautiful one as this is almost perfect imho. There are many more written by him when not on trains ;) Check out another of my favourites, Tall Nettles.

by ToonSarah

What a lovely village Sarah, I hadn't heard of it before. Very picturesque. x

by katieshevlin62

Thanks Katie :) As an English Literature student I heard of it long before I visited, because of the poem!

by ToonSarah

Been to many Cotswold villages, but never Adlestrop. It's whetted my appetite to back go up there, and I would have to go to there now :-)

by Easymalc

Hi Malcolm! Your comment appeared to have been posted twice so I've deleted one of them :) Thanks for stopping by - I do recommend a quick visit to Adlestrop if you're in the area again. There's not much to see apart from the church, which is lovely, but it's nice to find a Cotswold village that isn't overrun with tourists :)

by ToonSarah

What a pretty village. Not in the Cotswolds, but we loved Sandy Hill although there is no literary connection, just lots of beautiful thatched cottages.

We missed Adlestrop when we were in the Cotswolds. Too bad; it's lovely.

by Beausoleil

Yes, Sandy Hill is pretty Sally :) A shame you missed Adlestrop though, as it's very 'paintable'!

by ToonSarah

I have to quote many of your other commenters but What a charming little village!! :)

by hennaonthetrek

Thanks so much Henna :)

by ToonSarah

My daughter is a huge Jane Austin fan. She would love this village

by littlesam1

Hi Larry, and thanks for stopping by. The place your daughter (which one btw?) should really visit is Chawton in Hampshire, to go in the house Jane Austen where lived and wrote most of her novels. But this is a pretty village and worth seeing whether or not you're a 'Janeite' :)

by ToonSarah

reading this I am more than sure I would love it! I also love the novels of Jane Austen and find her life interesting ... I guess I really need to visit Adlestrop one day! No ... I am certain of it! :)

by Ils1976

I think you would love the Cotswold villages Ils!

by ToonSarah

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