What to do in Bloxham

Perched on the edge of the Cotswolds, the rural village of Bloxham is a great jumping-off spot for exploring this perennially popular region.

By Pat Riddell
Published 14 Jul 2019, 08:00 BST
The Old Dairy, Bloxham
The Old Dairy, Bloxham
Photograph by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Why go

A stone’s throw from the historic market town of Banbury, Bloxham is home to a number of quaint country pubs and shops; it even boasts a museum chronicling its medieval history. But its main appeal is as a base from which to explore the Cotswolds. This immaculate landscape of rolling hills stretches for 800sq miles across several counties. Its historic market towns and villages have become a byword for an idyllic way of life that’s changed little over the centuries. The famous honey-coloured stone used for buildings across the region give it a unique uniformity that has long attracted visitors in their droves. From tea rooms, cosy pubs and medieval cottages to meandering walks, stately homes and music festivals, its popularity shows no sign of abating, but zoom in on the smaller villages like Bloxham and you can still escape the crowds.

What to do

There’s a sense of history and heritage around every corner in this part of the world. Dating back to the 14th century, Broughton Castle is just two miles away and features on one of several local walks from the village of Bloxham. Blenheim Palace and Warwick Castle are a short drive away, while the Rollright Stones, a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments, are also a popular local attraction. The mystical ancient site, managed by English Heritage, has featured in Doctor Who and is the setting for an annual performance of a Shakespeare play.

Don’t miss

Plot your way around the area with a series of day trips from Bloxham. The kids will love animal attractions such as Crocodiles of the World, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Birdland, but it’s the market towns and villages that are the true Cotswolds must-sees — the likes of Broadway, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Upper and Lower Slaughter. Just don’t expect to tick them all off on one trip — you might be best to leave the more popular ones for off-peak visits.  

Where to eat

As you’d expect, it’s the country pubs that are the main magnet for diners — The Boxing Hare in Chipping Norton comes highly rated, with the chef a veteran of a Michelin-starred kitchen. And, of course, if you’re after a real immersion in the Chipping Norton set, then Soho Farmhouse is where to head for your taste of rural Cotswold glamour. If you need a break from the traditional pub fare, Bloxham is home to Kama, a pop-up Japanese restaurant hosted by chef and potter Adrienne Baba. The inventive menu includes the likes of yuzu creme brulees, matcha ice creams and gyozas — all served up on Adrienne’s Japanese-inspired ceramic creations.

Where to stay

The Old Dairy offers all the things most visitors look for from a stay in one of the UK’s most bucolic regions. The Grade II-listed Oxfordshire stone manor house has original features throughout — flagstone flooring, exposed ceiling beams, magnificent arched doorways — but has been remodelled to incorporate stylish modern additions.

The five bedrooms — sleeping up to six adults and six children — are luxuriously appointed and comfortable without being too fussy; they also include a children’s bedroom and a nursery. The master bedroom has an en suite with a rolltop bath. The three lounges offer plenty of space in which to relax, plus state-of-the-art TVs and sound systems, as well as a plethora of board games, books and DVDs. There’s table tennis in the basement, as well as a boot room, dining room and an enormous kitchen that’s ideal for catering for families or groups of friends.

An interior designer has evidently been at work. The stylish colour schemes, lampshades, wallpaper, fabrics and art make it feel a little like staying in your own boutique hotel. The immaculately maintained walled garden is a huge draw, especially for the kids. The heated pool is open May-October and there are rolling lawns to play around on, as well as a tree swing, climbing frame, mini-adventure playground, croquet and goalposts — you’ll want for nothing.

The Old Dairy is available through Beachspoke from £400 a night (three-night minimum stay).

Top three: Bloxham pubs

Red Lion
Extensively renovated in 2016 after it was bought from Fuller’s Brewery, this cosy spot in the heart of Bloxham is a popular choice for full English breakfasts.

Joiners Arms
Perched on the edge of the old village green, this Grade II-listed, honey-stone building houses a charming pub with an extensive menu of pub classics. Think scampi and chips, burgers and Sunday roasts.

Elephant & Castle
A former 15th-century coaching inn with open fires, a beer garden, home-cooked food and traditional ales from the local, family-run Hook Norton Brewery.

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