The Cotswold town of Northleach in Gloucestershire is located at an important crossroads, just off the roman road, the Fosse Way (A429) 10 miles north-east of Cirencester and 10 miles south-west of Stow-on-the-Wold. Northleach was at one time a great market town, celebrated throughout Europe as a major centre for the Cotswold wool trade. The fifteenth-century church of St. Peter and St. Paul, paid for by the wealth wool merchants, was built with stone dug from quarry in the town itself and what is now the Market Square.
Northleach Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is beautifully embellished with carved stonework and it contains the best of all Cotswold churches memorial brasses depicting its benefactos, some of whom are shown standing on the woolsacks and sheep that made them so rich.
The church is one of the most beautiful of the Perpendicular 'wool' churches in the Cotswolds; its south porch has been called the most lovely in all Englad, with its tall pinnacles and statue-filled niches. One of the church's greatest glories is the giant east window which floods the church with light and also a generous "Cotswold window" over the channel arch.
The modest size of the town of Northleach belies its former importance. The Abbery of Gloucester owned the area from AD 800, granting the town a charter in 1220 to hold a weekly market. The town was transformed by the wool trade and in 1340 to 1540 it flourished as the centre of a large sheep-rearing area.
Northleach has long been linked with transport and in about AD 300 the Salt Way trade route came through the townn, used for carrying salt by packhorse from salt mines at Droitwich to the River Thames at Lechlade and then on to London. During the age of the coach travel it was a centre for changing horses and refreshing passengers on the London to Gloucester route.
The Charter Fair is 792 years old, dating back to 1227 when King Henry III granted the town of Northleach a Charter which allowed a weekly market and annual fair. The Charter Fair is always the last Saturday of June, that being the closest weekend to the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul.
The Wyvern Mysteries (1999) was part filmed at Northleach - Based on a 19th Century writer JS Le Fanu, about a young girl brought up by the man responsible for her fathers death. She falls in love with his eldest son. Starred: Derek Jacobi, and Jack Davenport.
The area of Northleach is a walkers paradise with many beautiful walks across the open Cotswold countryside.
Enjoy the slower pace of life and indulge in the English passion for tea and cream cakes in the many tea shops in the nearby villages and ancient towns whilst soaking up the ambience of the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Market is available every Wednesday from 8.30am to 2.00pm with free parking.