Insider's Guide

Insider’s Guide with Luke Edward Hall

6th November 2023

Many famous faces, household names and notable figures have links to the Cotswolds, and in this series we ask some of them to share their top recommendations within the area.

From underground foodie spots to hidden cultural gems and paths less travelled, our Insider’s Guide to the Cotswolds reveal the secrets known only to locals – until now.

We are delighted to launch with artist, designer and columnist Luke Edward Hall. Renowned for his colourful work inspired by history, and in his own words, filtered through a lens of irreverent romanticism, he is the ultimate insider for our corner of the Cotswolds

How long you have visited and or lived in the Cotswolds?

We started renting a cottage here in 2019, and have been living here more or less full-time since 2020.

My favourite spot is…

There are so many… I love Asthall and Swinbrook, Painswick with its Rococo Garden… Most of all though, I love our cottage and garden – this is where I want to spend a lot of my time! We’re lucky to have some great spots on our doorstep. Chastleton is a wonderful house to visit, and the towns of Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton have all the things that I need. (By this I mostly mean art materials, books and bakeries.)

My favourite view of the Cotswolds is…

There are many wonderful views, but I’m going to pick a place with a mix of exterior and interior views: I love visiting the church of St Nicholas in Lower Oddington, which has been wonderfully described as “hidden, like an old sea chest shoved away in the attic”. The churchyard is incredibly atmospheric, and inside visitors will find a magnificent medieval wall painting, perhaps the largest ‘Doom’ painting in Britain.

My favourite place to escape in nature is…

I love to spend time in woodland – I’ll often head over to Cornbury, via Chadlington and Shorthampton, and walk there.

The best place to go early in the morning is…

Daylesford! We often start our day with a dog walk from the farm shop in the direction of Lower Oddington. We’ll stock up on groceries from the shop afterwards, or if I’m heading to my studio on the other side of Kingham, I might grab lunch from the brilliant counter.

Something only locals know is…

I’m really into English folklore, so I’ve loved getting to grips with local legends and associated places. Take the Wychwood Forest, for example. This ancient hunting forest used to cover most of West Oxfordshire and is reported to be quite haunted. You can visit remaining fragments of the woodland, but they’re difficult to locate…

My foodie go-to is…

We’re spoilt for good food here in the Cotswolds. I particularly love The Woolpack in Slad, Chloe’s in Charlbury and The Straw Kitchen at Whichford Pottery.

My cultural fix is…

Oxford, which is only half an hour down the road by car or train. It’s always a joy to visit the Ashmolean. Often there are fun events and gigs going on in Stroud. Oh, and I love a Morris dance; I’ll travel to local villages to watch performances.

My night-time escape is…

I suppose we’re not so big on night-time escapes, because we love a night at home and we love to cook. We really enjoy having friends and neighbours over for long candlelit lunches and dinners. Occasionally we’ll head to the newly opened Living Room Cinema in Chipping Norton.

A misconception about the Cotswolds would be…

That only a certain type of person lives here. We’ve loved making friends in the area – there is a real mix of people here, and locals have been incredibly welcoming. There is so much going on in the Cotswolds, and there are layers of history to discover.

Three words to describe the Cotswolds…

Rolling English hills!

All illustrations and imagery kindly shared by Luke, you can follow him on Instagram here.

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