A gem in the Cotswolds, Castle Combe is a popular village for tourists to visit. Its honey-coloured cottages and ancient layout make you feel like you are stepping back in time. Whether you visit in the magical frost-sparkling winter, or bright, sunny day; Castle Combe remains a picture-postcard delight with plenty to see and do.
Read on for our complete guide to help you plan your visit – it really is one of the best places to visit in the UK!
Castle Combe village facts:
When was Castle Combe built?
In the fifth century, on the hill above where Castle Combe lies, was a Roman Villa. Hundred of years later, between 1135 and 1154, the Normans constructed a castle on the hill just above where the village now is. The old castle was little more than a hill fort, and by the 14th century, the castle was already in a state of disrepair.
However, during the middle ages, Castle Combe became a thriving village. The place became an important village in the wool trade. As such, it was home to many weavers as well as vast flocks of sheep.
Over the next few hundred years, the village as it stands began to take shape. In fact, there have been no new houses built in the village of Castle Combe since the 1600s!
Is Castle Combe a village or town?
Castle Combe is located in the rural surrounds of the Cotswolds. The combination of location and size marks Castle Combe as a village. Its picturesque appearance means that you may well have already seen Castle Combe as it is often used as the scenic backdrop for period dramas filmed in the UK.
Is Castle Combe the oldest village in England?
It is hard to say with any certainty which is the oldest village in England. As villages are small and ever-evolving, it can be hard to date their foundation.
The village itself is certainly rich with history. Castle Combe is also home to one of the oldest working clocks in the country. You can find this clock in St Andrew’s church.
Was Castle Combe named the prettiest village in England?
Many people consider Castle Combe to be one of the prettiest villages in the south of England, and it has indeed been called such. The village regularly tops official and unofficial charts for the prettiest village in England.
Notably winning the vote for the prettiest village in England in 1961. The Culture Trip also names the village as one of the top ten most beautiful villages in the UK.
Castle Combe village postcode and location
Castle Combe is around five miles northwest of Chippenham. The postcodes for the centre of the village are all SN14. The postcodes range from SN14 7HL – SN14 7HY.
Be aware that the village has many parking restrictions in place to preserve its character and make it safe for visitors. However, there is a car park, just outside of Castle Combe where you can leave your vehicle and explore the village on foot.
What county is Castle Combe in?
The village of Castle Combe is located in the North West area of the county of Wiltshire.
How to get to Castle Combe?
Castle Combe from Chippenham
You can take the number 35 bus from Town Bridge in Chippenham directly to the village centre. The bus ride takes about 23 minutes.
By car, it takes about 11 minutes to travel along the A420 onto the B4039 which will take you right to the heart of Castle Combe.
Read also our guide to renting a car in Europe
Bath to Castle Combe
To use public transport to get to Castle Combe from Bath you should first take either a bus or a train to Chippenham and then take the number 35 bus from Town Bridge.
There are a few different routes from Bath to Castle Combe. The easiest way is to take the A4 towards Chippenham, then take the A350 to the A420, then follow the signs to Castle Combe.
Castle Combe from London
To use public transport to get to Castle Combe from London you should first take either a bus or a train to Chippenham and then take the number 35 bus from Town Bridge.
If you are travelling by car from London, you want to head out on the M4 towards Chippenham and then take the A350 and follow signs for the B4039 and Castle Combe.
Whichever transport you take, Castle Combe village is a perfect place to visit on a day trip out of London!
Parking in Castle Combe
There is only one carpark in the village. It is located just outside of the village at the top of a hill. There is a path that joins the car park to the village. It is a little steep, but it is a picturesque walk through the trees. The car park is free to use and is open 24 hours a day.
Things to see in Castle Combe
1. The Village Pound
As you stroll down the road from the car park towards the village, you might notice a small stone-walled enclosure, on the right-hand side of the road. Inside the enclosure, there is a seat that was built in 1977 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. This small stone enclosure used to be used to secure stray animals until their owners could be found and fined.
2. The Dower House / Upper Manor
Once you reach the village, the first main building you will pass is a large yellow house. This is the Dower House. You can easily recognise it as above the door there is a family crest. The crest belongs to the Scope family.
Traditionally this house was home to the village doctor. It has also featured as the home of Dr Dolittle, in the 1967 version of the film.
3. The St George
The next house along the road has a small castle mounted on the wall between the second-floor windows. This castle is why this building is now known as Castle House. Those with sharp eyes may be able to make out the initials NE along with the year 1672. This marks the year that Nathanial Elver built the house, which at the time was used as an alehouse, called St George.
4. The Market Cross
At the crossroads in the centre of the village, you can find the heart of the village. The unmistakable market cross was built in the 14th Century and still stands proudly today. The market cross was built to show that the village had permission to hold weekly markets
A small distance from the roofed market cross, you see a smaller stone structure. Known Buttercross, this is what remains of the tethering post and mounting block of the town.
5. Archway Cottage / The Garrett House
Taking a right up west street takes you past The Castle Inn and to an unusual sight. Over the road, there is a small cottage. The buildings form an archway over the road, which is why it is often called Archway Cottage. The true name of the building is the Garrett House.
If you want to stay in this unusual building, it is now part of the accommodations of The Manor House Hotel.
6. St. Andrew’s Church
Right next to the market cross is the entrance to St Andrew’s Church. The church was first built in the 13th Century. It has been extended over the years, so that is now has a modest tower, one of the oldest working clocks in the country and a monument to a Norman Knight.
The church is well worth a look. It is well cared for by the local parishioners who have a tradition of installing beautiful flower arrangements in the church.
7. The White Hart
On the opposite side of the market square is the White Hart. This lovely little pub has been serving refreshments for five centuries. Which is a great excuse for you to have a seat and a drink, you’ll just be keeping the history of the place alive.
8. The Court House
Just down from the pub is the Court House. The Court House was home to the Court Leet during the Middle Ages. The lord of the manor relied on this court to maintain law and order in the village and surrounding area.
9. The Bridge
At the end of the town, there is the old bridge over the river at the end of town. The bridge was originally built out of wood but was rebuilt in the 18th Century. You might be able to see the steel grids hanging over the sides of the bridge. These are in place to help keep the deer herds within the manor park.
10. The Roman Bridge
At the very end of the village, there is Smart’s Bridge. The bridge is a small and one-sided bridge, and the locals call it the Roman Bridge. It’s called this, not because of when it was built, but because of a local ghost story. The locals say that you can sometimes see the ghost of a Roman Centurian on the bridge.
11. Castle Combe Circuit
The circuit is possible one of the biggest draws to the area. It was built shortly after Silverstone, making it one of the longest-running race circuits in the country. The track runs around the perimeter of an old World War II airfield. The track is just shy of 3km in length.
Due to its location and complaints about the noise, there are no major racing events held here. You can, however, see club level car and motorbike races. You can also try out the circuit yourself.
As well as racing the circuit is also host to an annual half marathon. There are regular car boot sales, and in May each year, there is a steam rally.
Restaurants in Castle Combe village
In the heart of the village, there are four main options when it comes to eating out.
Bybrook Restaurant – The restaurant is located in the Manor House Hotel, and is open to non-guests too. The food is seasonal, locally sourced and sublimely presented. A meal here is a real treat to be enjoyed. The staff are attentive and knowledgeable and go out of their way to ensure you have a great experience. This is definitely the place to go if you want to treat yourself.
The White Hart – This is a good place to try if you are after a traditional English pub meal. The portions are generous, and the food is hearty. Dogs are also welcome here, so it’s a great option if you’ve been walking your pup in the area. They have bowls for dogs in the outside seating area.
The Old Stables Coffee Shop – Located in the Estate yard the converted stables are now home to a delightful little coffee shop. You can grab a cup of tea or coffee and a light bite here. There are plenty of vegetarian options as well as an abundance of tasty cakes and scones to choose from.
The Old Rectory Tearoom – If you are after a quintessential English high tea, then this is the spot for you. You are guaranteed a warm welcome and a truly scrumptious meal. If you have a large group, you can book to have tea in the village hall where they can cater for up to 50 guests.
Are there any Castle Combe tours?
There are currently no tours of Castle Combe specifically. However, several tour companies offer tours of Wiltshire and the Cotswolds. Many of these tours make stops in Castle Combe.
What was filmed in Castle Combe?
Castle Combe is such a picture-perfect village location that it has been used as a backdrop in a large number of films. The village is a popular local because there are no TV aerials or telegraph poles, so it makes a perfect set, with no need for alterations.
One of the most popular recent films to have scenes here was the 2007 fantasy film Stardust. You can also spot the village in the 2011 film Warhorse and 2010 The Wolfman. The 1967 version of Dr Dolittle was filmed in large part in Castle Combe. They even dammed the river to make a small harbour for the film.
The village also makes an appearance in several TV programmes. You’ll see it in Agatha Cristie’s Poirot and the 1980’s version of Robin of Sherwood.
Where to Stay in Castle Combe?
There are quite a few options when it comes to accommodation in and around Castle Combe. There are several bed and breakfasts dotted around the edges of the village. If you are interested in renting a self-catered cottage, there are a few available within the heart of the village.
If you are looking for a hotel, you have two choices. The Castle Inn is located above one of the bustling pubs in the village. The other option is the Manor House Hotel, which is a luxury 5-star hotel located in the old Manor House.
Where to go around Castle Combe?
Castle Combe is located only a short drive from the historic cities, of Bath and Chippenham in the Cotswolds. You can easily pass several days exploring both cities. Other places worth a visit in the local area are the Hope Nature Centre in Trow Bridge and Lacock Abbey.
Of course, being located in the Cotswolds, the whole village is surrounded by scenic countryside. There are numerous walking routes to be found in the local area, or a short drive away. There is also plenty of quaint cafes and English pubs to while away the days.
If you are willing to travel a bit further away from Castle Combe village, you should visit:
All of them are perfect ideas for a day out of London, so as the Castle Combeis 🙂
Is it worth visiting Castle Combe village?
The tiny village of Castle Combe has been called the prettiest village in England for years. I guess many of you have only seen it on screen on a few movies. Castle Combe enjoys a reputation for being one of the most photographed places in England, so it must be one of the best places to visit in the UK! Do you agree? 😉
This fairy-tale-like village is totally worth visiting for a day trip from London or even as a weekend trip if you place to explore the surrounding area a bit more.
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