The South West of England is incredibly beautiful, and is renowned for its glorious countryside and spectacular beaches. However, there is also a wealth of pretty streets, lined with quintessentially English buildings.
We got in touch with a number of tourism associations in the South West, to find out which they think are the most attractive, and should be visited during English country cottage holidays.
The Royal Crescent, Somerset
Laid out in a sweeping crescent in the city of Bath overlooking an impressive ha-ha and Royal Victoria Park, The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced houses. These were designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, and are now among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the UK.
“Although some changes have been made to the various interiors over the years, the Georgian stone façade remains much as it was when it was first built. Of the Royal Crescent's 30 townhouses, 10 are still full-size townhouses; 18 have been split into flats of various sizes; 1 is the 'No. 1 Royal Crescent' Museum and the large central house at number 16 is the world-famous Royal Crescent Hotel (famous for accommodating big names who perform and visit Glastonbury Festival every year)."
“Next year is the 250th anniversary of the Royal Crescent – plans are currently under way to celebrate this auspicious anniversary in style.” – Visit Bath
The Circus, Somerset
The Circus, originally called King's Circus, was part of John Wood the Elder's grand vision to recreate a classical Palladian architectural landscape for the city. Wood's inspiration was the Roman Colosseum, but whereas the Colosseum was designed to be seen from the outside, the Circus faces inwardly. Three classical Orders (Greek Doric, Roman/Composite and Corinthian) are used, one above the other, in the elegant curved facades.
The frieze of the Doric entablature is decorated with alternating triglyphs and 525 pictorial emblems, including serpents, nautical symbols, and masonic symbols, with the parapet adorned with stone acorn finials.
“When viewed from the air, the Circus, along with Queens Square and the adjoining Gay Street, form a key shape, which is a masonic symbol similar to those that adorn many of Wood's buildings. Famous residents of The Circus include actors Nicholas Cage and John Cleese.” – Visit Bath
Chipping Campden High Street, Gloucestershire
Often referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Cotswold towns, Chipping Campden is also one of the best preserved and most historically important towns. Designated a conservation area and lined with honey-coloured limestone buildings, its High Street is long and broad, with an almost unbroken single terrace on either side.
“A planned town of the late 12th century, its layout properties can still be traced, the High Street following the line of an important trading route. The ancient word ‘chipping’ refers to market, the Market Hall, was built in 1627 by Sir Baptist Hicks for the sale of cheese, butter and poultry.” - The Cotswolds
Arlington Row, Gloucestershire
Originally built in 1380 as a monastic wool store, Arlington Row was converted into a row of cottages for weavers in the seventeenth century. Its setting by a water meadow makes this is a wonderful beauty spot, and those visiting will feel just like they’ve stepped back in time. One of the most photographed Cotswold scenes, it is often used as a film and television location.
“William Morris called Bibury the most beautiful village in England and to this day it remains a most attractive setting alongside the sparking River Coln. For a bit of history, take a stroll down the picturesque Arlington Row which is probably one of the most photographed Cotswold scenes.” - The Cotswolds
Gold Hill, Dorset
Located in the Saxon hilltop town of Shaftesbury, this cobbled street is probably one of the most recognisable in the UK. The view from the top across the Blackmoor Vale has been described as one of the ‘most romantic sights in England’. Gold Hill is very steep, lined with ancient cottages on one side and buttressed by the Grade I listed, walls of Shaftesbury Abbey on the other.
“The ancient cobbled street of Gold Hill, Shaftesbury was made famous in the much loved "Hovis" advert from the 1970s. Drink in the stunning vista down the hill and across the surrounding Dorset countryside and you will see why it’s a strong contender for the prettiest street in the UK.” - Visit Dorset
Milton Abbas, Dorset
Milton Abbas, Dorset
With all the buildings painted white, these cute cottages stand out amongst the surrounding greenery, and are almost symmetrical making them even more aesthetically pleasing. Even the local pub is similar in appearance, which is perfect for a quick refreshment or bite to eat before heading back to your cosy Dorset holiday cottage.
“Featured on many a postcard, the picture perfect row of identical cobb and thatch houses in Milton Abbas creates a real chocolate box English village scene. The original village of Middleton was uprooted and rebuilt in its current location in the late 18th Century by Lord Milton of nearby Milton Abbey so that the noise and smell of the village could no longer disturb his vision of rural peace!” - Visit Dorset
Castle Combe, Wiltshire
Visitors have been coming to Castle Combe village for over 100 years, and its small street which leads from the Market Cross down to the By Brook is still as picturesque as it was in the past. The majority of the houses are all typical of the honey-coloured Cotswold kind, with thick walls and roofs made of split natural stone tiles.
“This street is often listed as one of the prettiest villages in England. Stroll through the main street in the village and pass beautiful honey-coloured houses. The village has been used for many film locations including most recently War Horse.” – VisitWiltshire
The Shambles, Wiltshire
This crooked little lane runs from Silver Street to Market Street, and has numerous independent shops on either side, still selling goods on wooden benches outside the premises.
“A little street in Bradford on Avon with independent shops. Look out for the golden post-box at the end of the street marking Ed McKeever’s win in the 2012 Olympics.” - VisitWiltshire
Marlborough High Street, Wiltshire
Besides the collection of independent shops on the high street, looking up will reveal many interesting buildings - an eclectic mix of architectural styles, including Tudor and Georgian buildings, merchants’ houses and churches. Marlborough is certainly one of the most attractive places for a spot of retail therapy.
“One of the widest high streets in Europe! Home to lots of independent shops, regular markets and the Merchant’s House (a historic house that you can visit).” – VisitWiltshire
Corsham High Street, Wiltshire
With a traditional village style, and famed for its historical buildings, Corsham High Street looks just like what many would associate with an English picture postcard. Its diverse architecture is so beautiful that it’s been featured in numerous films and TV programs, such as Poldark.
“Corsham High Street was used in the filming of Poldark where it represented Truro! Again, there are several independent shops here and look out for the peacocks (that belong to Corsham Court) which roam the town – you’ll often find them walking along the High Street!” – VisitWiltshire
Cathedral Lane, Cornwall
This street is incredibly narrow, but what it lacks in width, it makes up for with beauty. All the buildings are different sizes, and house a superb variety of shops and places to eat, where you can sit and watch the world go by.
"Cornwall is absolutely beautiful and full of amazing character and unique culture so it’s very difficult to pick just one street but Cathedral Lane in Truro definitely stands out as being a worthy contender for the prettiest crown. It sits in the shadow of the magnificent spires of Truro Cathedral and harbours a stylish blend of independent boutiques and cafes resplendent in Georgian architecture. It’s certainly not your usual shopping street!" – Malcolm Bell, Visit Cornwall
This pretty little fishing village boasts a picturesque walk down to the coast, which has been an inspiration to many famous authors, such as Charles Dickens and Rex Whistler. The steep hill also means that those walking down can admire the spectacular view across the sea.
“Clinging to a 400 foot cliff, its traffic-free, steep, cobbled street tumbles its way down to the ancient fishing harbour and C14th quay. It is a descent through flower-strewn cottages broken only by little passageways and winding lanes that lead off to offer the prospect of further picturesque treasures.” – The Clovelly Estate
Image Credits: The Clovelly Estate, Visit Bath, Visit Bath, Hellsgeriatric, DavideGorla, VisitBritain, Visit Dorset, Martin Pettitt, shrinkin’violet, Ed Webster, The Local People Photo Album, Visit Cornwall, The Clovelly Estate (flickr.com)