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The Cotswolds spreads across 5 different counties and as you’d expect it has a long and interesting History across these counties, with History comes traditions and these are the absolute best, if not slightly strange, Cotswolds Traditions we have found and simply couldn’t wait to share!
We love The Cotswolds for it’s eccentricities and the people of the Cotswolds sharing a life and time that once was, keeping tradition alive through hard work and tenacity, sometimes in the face of opposition, and keeping the Cotswolds the Wonderful area that it truly is.
1. Cooper Hill Cheese Rolling
One Cheese. A Very Steep Hill. An Age Old Tradition.
Still very much alive today and taking place on Spring Bank Holiday Weekend at Coopers Hill in the Village of Brockworth near Gloucester is the annual Cheese Rolling Festival.
Hilarious and extremely dangerous, this event was nearly cancelled for good back in 2011 but the people of the village pulled together to ensure it’ll continue into the future, making it clear that all who attend or take part do so at their own risk. The team do work extremely hard in the run up to the event and on the day to ensure everything is as safe as throwing yourself down an extremely steep hill at high speed can be.
Their resistance to being shut down, their organisation and continued tenacity are absolute admirable and long may this crazy tradition continue! And with around 4000 attendees I don’t think it’ll be going anywhere soon! Here’s a taster of what to expect (and yes the hill really is that steep)
2. River Football
The time of year when the usually calm and pretty River Windrush is taken over by two boisterous teams of local players, battling it out for victory in the annual Bourton-in-the-Water Football in the River match.
With more than 100 years of experience putting on a show-stopping sporting performance, hundreds if not thousands of spectators are attracted to this yearly event where they will find a spot on Bourton-on-the-Water’s grassy banks for the exhilerating 30-minute match!
Braving the chilly knee-high waters, two six-a-side teams of players from local clubs go head to head in a crowd pleasing, soaking match. Be warned if you plan to visit – waterproofs are required if you’re getting close to the action, splashing is all part of the fun and frontline spectators will most definitely get wet!
Great entertainment and crowd interaction, this summer event at Bourton-in-the-Water is a Gloucestershire event to attend for sure!
A photo posted by Jack Galpin (@jackgalpin8694) on
3. Pig Face Day
Avening in Gloucestershire, not far from Tetbury and Nailsworth is home to an unusual bi-annual tradition called Pig Face Day held in the month of September. Known locally as ‘Pig-Face Day’ villagers feast in the village hall after attending evensong at the Church of the Holy Cross at Avening. The feast commemorates Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conquerer, who consecrated the church in 1080. The one and only commissioning of a Church by a Queen of England.History says that way back in the 12th century, Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, fell in love with Brictric, a Saxon lord of Avening. When her feelings weren’t reciprocated she had him thrown in prison in Worcester – where he died. Eventually overcome with guilt, Queen Matilda commissioned the building of Avening Church, and left money for a parish feast – this feast started the tradition with the Pigs Face taking pride of place on the huge feast table. Since then on Pig Face Day, the head of a pig is carried into the church on a plate, and a medieval celebration and fair takes place complete with torchlit procession to the feast, jesters, jugglers, medieval dress and fire eaters!
4. Tetbury Woolsack Races
In the 16th Century Tetbury was one of the best-known wool and yarn markets in the country. Tetbury thrived in the middle ages as a market for wool, it’s location perfect in the middle of sheep country on the important route from Oxford to Bristol. What we know is that the races originated in the 17th Century by young drovers showing off to local women by running up the hill carrying a woolsack. An official race day has been going for over 30 years now, usually in the month of May, with world records entered in the ‘Guinness book of Records’. The woolsacks are a whopping 60lb for men’s races and 35lb for the women’s races and must be dashed an exhausting 240yds from The Royal Oak to The Crown. The race events are accompanied by lots of fun in the form of a street fair with varied stalls, a funfair, musical entertainments and roving entertainers. People have been enjoying this spectacle and the great family day out and the races continue to raise a considerable amount of much needed funds for local causes! What could be better!
Wassailing is the pagan fertility rites to awaken Fruit Trees and has been celebrated in England, including the Cotswolds since the 1400’s. Usually taking place on the eve of the 12th Night or Old Christmas Eve – the 5th Jane, but it does take place later in the month – 17th Jan, depending on which calendar the wassailers are following. The ceremony traditionally begins just before dark when the wassailing cup and drink is prepared. In the south Cotswolds a drink called Lamb’s Wool, made of hot ale, eggs, spices, sugar, cream and roasted apples, was traditional and definitely sounds interesting. After dark the procession leads down to the orchards carrying large sticks and drums, kettles, pans and whistles – anything which can be used to make a lot of noise! Chants and rhymes and hitting the trees about the trunk is next, said to awaken the tree from it’s winter hibernation and to scare away any evil spirits that may have been lurking amongst the trees – thus ensuring an excellent crop. Stroud is a great place to see this tradition in action!
Dating back to the very early 1600’s The Olimpick Games were first organised by lawyer Robert Dover and continue today, usually in the month of June, on Dovers Hill in Chipping Campden. Home of the now internationally known, Shin Kicking World Championship this event looks nothing short of painful. But still people flock to see this event and ‘Champion of the Hill’, the ‘Championship of the Hill’ and ‘Tug O’ War’ amongst other, similarly crowd pleasing events!