A pedestrian bridge across the River Windrush
Bourton-on-the-Water shown within Gloucestershire
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Bourton-on-the-Water is a village and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England that lies on a wide flat vale within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village has a population of 3,297 inhabitants (2009 est), making it a rather large village as its population actually exceeds those of nearby Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, both of which are considered small market towns.
The village of Bourton-on-the-Water is known for its picturesque High Street, flanked by long wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. The river is crossed by several low, arched stone bridges. These arched bridges have led to Bourton-on-the-Water being called the "Venice of the Cotswolds". Bourton-on-the-Water often has more visitors than residents during peak times of the tourist season.
Bourton-on-the-Water parish is bounded by the Fosse Way along the northwest, while the eastern boundary is defined by a series of streams, namely: Slaughter brook, the River Dikler, and the River Windrush; the southern boundary is associated with a watercourse that runs between Bourton Hill and Broadwater Bottom.
The earliest evidence of human activity within the Bourton-on-the-Water area was found in the Slaughter Bridge gravel-spread, where Neolithic pottery (dated c. 4000 B.C.) was discovered. Moreover excavations of the Salmonsbury Camp give evidence of almost continuous habitation through the Neolithic period, the Bronze Age and throughout England's Roman Period (c. 43 to 410 A.D.). Ancient Roman pottery and coins discovered in the village itself give clear evidence of extended Roman occupation. By the 11th century a Christian church was established and the village had developed along the River Windrush much as it is today. Despite the long history of habitation almost every building is now of 17th-century origin. The houses and shops in the village are constructed of the yellow limestone characteristic of the Cotswolds and they have the embellishments that make Cotswold architecture so picturesque: projecting gables, string-courses, windows with stone mullions and dripmoulds, and stone hoodmoulds over the doors.
Bourton has a number of tourist attractions:
- During the summer, a game of medieval football is played with goalposts set up in the River Windrush itself. Two teams play with a standard football, and a referee attempts to keep order. Crowds line the banks of the river, and the aim is to score as many goals as possible (while getting everyone else as wet as possible).
- The model village is a 1:9 replica of the village and includes a model of the model village itself (a model within a model). It was built by local craftsmen in the 1930s, and opened in 1937.
- The Model Railway.
- The Cotswold Motoring Museum (home of Brum).
- Birdland Park and Gardens, which has a collection of birds, from penguins through parrots to passerine (perching) birds and a large pond full of salmon which can be fed by the public. There are bird-of-prey displays and a penguin feeding demonstration.
- The Dragonfly Maze
- On the fourth Sunday of each month, there is a farmers' market.
Bourton is also home to Bourton-on-the-Water Primary School and the Cotswold School, a co-educational comprehensive school.
Bourton-on-the-Water was first served by rail with the opening of the Bourton-on-the-Water Railway in 1862; this was a branch line from Kingham on the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway (OWWR). The station was situated just to the north of the village. The OWWR (and its branch) later amalgamated with the Great Western Railway (GWR), and in 1881, the branch was extended westwards, and formed part of the GWR's Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway. The station closed to passengers in 1962, and to goods in 1964.
- "Mid-2009 Parish Population Estimates". Gloucestershire County Council. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Local Plan". Cotswold District Council. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- C. R. Elrington (editor) (1965). "Parishes: Bourton-on-the-Water". A History of the County of Gloucester:volume 6. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- C. R. Elrington (editor) (1965). "Parishes: Bourton-on-the-Water". A History of the County of Gloucester: volume 6. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "The Most Sustainable Principal Settlements: Bourton-on-the-Water". Cotswold Local Plan. Cotswold District Council. 2001. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Scheduled Monuments". English Heritage. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- "Listed Buildings". English Heritage. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- The Old New Inn website: the Model Village
- Wilfrid Hyde-White profile at Find-a-Grave
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