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Market Square - Stow on the Wold.jpg
Market Square
Stow-on-the-Wold is located in Gloucestershire
Location within Gloucestershire
Population2,042 (2011 Census)[1]
Civil parish
  • Stow-on-the-Wold
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtGL54
Dialling code01451
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
51°55′48″N 01°43′21″W / 51.93000°N 1.72250°W / 51.93000; -1.72250Coordinates: 51°55′48″N 01°43′21″W / 51.93000°N 1.72250°W / 51.93000; -1.72250

Stow-on-the-Wold is a market town and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England, on top of an 800-foot (244 m) hill at the junction of main roads through the Cotswolds, including the Fosse Way (A429), which is of Roman origin. The town was founded by Norman lords to absorb trade from the roads converging there. Fairs have been held by royal charter since 1330; a horse fair is still held on the edge of the town in May and October each year.



Stow-on-the-Wold, originally called Stow St Edward or Edwardstow after the town's patron saint Edward, probably Edward the Martyr,[2] is said to have originated as an Iron Age fort on this defensive position on a hill. Indeed, there are many sites of similar forts in the area, and Stone Age and Bronze Age burial mounds are common throughout the area. It is likely that Maugersbury was the primary settlement of the parish before Stow was built as a marketplace on the hilltop nearer to the crossroads, to take advantage of passing trade. Originally the small settlement was controlled by abbots from the local abbey, and when the first weekly market was set up in 1107 by Henry I, he decreed that the proceeds go to Evesham Abbey.[2]

Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold[edit]

On 21 March 1646 the last battle in the first phase of the English Civil War took place one mile north of Stow on the Wold. After initial royalist success, the superiority of the parliamentary forces overwhelmed and routed the royalist forces. Fleeing the field, the royalists fought a running fight back into the streets of Stow, where the final action took place, culminating in surrender in the market square.[3]

Notable people[edit]

In birth order:

  • Clement Barksdale (1609–1687), writer and poet, was Rector of Stow-on-the-Wold from 1660 to 1687.
  • Edmund Chilmead (1610–1654), writer, translator and musician, was born in the town.
  • George Wilkinson (1814–1890), was the architect of Stow-on-the-Wold Workhouse in 1836.
  • George Pepall (1876–1953), county cricketer, was born in the town.
  • Harry Ferguson (1884–1960), engineer and inventor of the Ferguson tractor, died in the town.
  • Frederic Bartlett (1886–1969), experimental psychologist and academic, was born in the town.
  • John Howland (1895–1958), county cricketer, was born in the town.
  • John Entwistle (1944–2002), musician, producer and bass guitarist of the Who, bought Quarwood in Stow-on-the-Wold in 1976. His funeral was held at St Edward's Church.
  • David Loder (born 1964), racehorse trainer, was born in the town.


The town belongs to the Stow electoral ward. This covers the parishes of Stow, Maugersbury and Swell. In 2010 these parishes had a total population of 2,594.

Stow-on-the-Wold has an active Parish Council with 10 members.[4]

Stow-on-the-Wold is represented on Cotswold District Council by the Liberal Democrat Councillor Dilys Neill, who was elected in the 2019 local elections.[5] The Stow Division is represented on Gloucestershire County Council by the Conservative Councillor Nigel Moor.[6]

Stow Ward[edit]

Stow Ward
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Dilys Neill 577 65.3 +21.4
Conservative Tom Bradley 307 34.7 -21.4
Majority 270 12.2
Turnout 42.7
Liberal Democrats gain from Conservative Swing

Gloucestershire County Council[edit]

Gloucestershire County Council Stow Division
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Nigel Moor 2,340 63
Liberal Democrats Rachel Coxcoon 1,014 27
Green Andrew Maclean 210 6
UKIP Edeltraud French 139 4
Majority 1,326
Conservative hold Swing


Ancient yew trees at the north porch of to St Edward's Church

In 1330, Edward III set up an annual 7-day market to be held in August. In 1476, Edward IV replaced that with two 5-day fairs, two days before and two days after the feast of St Philip and St James in May, and similarly in October on the feast of Edward the Confessor (the saint associated with the town). The aim of the annual charter fairs was to establish Stow as a place to trade and alleviate the unpredictability of the passing trade. These fairs were located in the square, which is still the town centre.[7]

As the fairs grew in fame and importance, so did the town. Traders dealing in livestock added many handmade goods, and the wool trade was always prominent.[8] It is reported that 20,000 sheep changed hands at one 19th-century fair. Many alleys known as tures that run between buildings into the market square were used in herding sheep to be sold.[9]

As the wool trade declined, people began to trade in horses. The practice continues, although the fair has been moved from the square to a large field near the village of Maugersbury every May and October. It remains popular, with roads around Stow blocked by the extra traffic for many hours.[10]

However, there has been controversy surrounding Stow Fair. The many visitors and traders have attracted more vendors not dealing in horses. Local businesses used to profit from the increased custom, but in recent years most pubs and shops close for 2–3 miles around due to the risks of theft or vandalism.[11]

Civil war[edit]

Stow played a role in the English Civil War. A number of engagements took place in the area, the local church of St Edward being damaged in one skirmish. On 21 March 1646, the Royalists, commanded by Sir Jacob Astley, were defeated at the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold, with hundreds of prisoners being confined for some time in St Edwards.[12]


Scotts of Stow, a mail order company, also has two shops in the town.[13]

Popular culture[edit]

St Edward's Church

Given its exposed spot on the top of Stow Hill, the town is often referred to as "Stow on the Wold, where the winds blow cold."[14]

"Stow-on-the-Wold, Where the wind blows cold.
Where horses young and old are sold,
Where farmers come to spend their gold,
Where men are fools and women are bold,
And many a wicked tale is told.
High on the freezing Cotswold." etc.

Stow-on-the-Wold featured prominently in the eleventh episode of series 6 of Top Gear, when Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the Ford F-Series there. He chose it as a venue because it is a typical community in the English countryside, which Clarkson compares to the American countryside in the episode.[15]

Transport links[edit]

Several roads link Stow to surrounding villages. Over longer distances, the Fosse Way (A429) runs from Exeter to Lincoln, the A424 from Burford into the A44 and to Evesham, and the A436 between Cheltenham and Gloucester.

From 1881 until 1962, Stow was served by Stow-on-the-Wold railway station on the Great Western Railway's Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway. The nearest station is now Moreton-in-Marsh, some 4 miles (6 km) from Stow on the Cotswold Line between Hereford and London Paddington. An alternative is Kingham railway station, some 5 miles (8 km) from Stow on the same line.


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b "British History Online: A History of the County of Gloucester, C. R. Elrington (editor), 1965, Pages 142-165". Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  3. ^ "Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold (1646)". Battlefields of Britain. Archived from the original on 29 August 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Stow Town Council Members". Stow-on-the-Wold Town Council. Archived from the original on 28 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Dilys Neill – Vice-Chair of the Council". Cotswold District Council. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Cllr Nigel Moor FRTPI FRSA". Gloucestershire County Council. Archived from the original on 31 October 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Parishes: Stow-on-the-Wold Pages 142-165 A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6". British History Online. Victoria County History. Archived from the original on 21 April 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Stow on the Wold". Cotswold info. Archived from the original on 11 May 2020. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Stow on the Wold Town Council". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Stow Horse Fair". Calendar Customs. Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Tearoom bouncers tackle fair fear (BBC News story)".
  12. ^ Bingham, Jane (18 February 2010). The Cotswolds: A Cultural History. Oxford University Press. pp. 58–. ISBN 9780195398755. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Scotts of Stow". Scotts of Stow. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Stow-on-the-Wold". Cotswolds guide. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  15. ^ Archer, Megan (15 May 2014). "Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May drive into Stow-on-the-Wold to film new series". Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. Retrieved 21 July 2020.

External links[edit]