Passenger service on the British railway system came to Broadway in the Cotswolds in 1904 but abandoned it in 1960. Now the only way to go there by land is to travel by car or take Brit Rail to Cheltenham and then a Marchants bus to Broadway. Should visitors to Great Britain do this? Indeed, they should. I was told to avoid Broadway in the summer because the streets are crowded with Brits and tourists. There is no bus service on Sunday so the only way to see Broadway on Sunday is by car. Broadway was listed in my January 9 blog named “2019 and 2020 Destinations” as one of Ruth & my favorites. It certainly was.
Broadway is a place of shops, tea parlors, period homes and limestone cottages. Simply strolling about town is what I most enjoyed doing. High Street, its main thoroughfare, is lined with horse chestnut trees and beautiful homes. I saw resplendent gardens and many quaint dwellings both on High Street and beyond. In very gentle British hill country in the 787 square miles of The Cotswolds, Broadway is 17 miles from Cheltenham, one of its largest communities, and close to many desirable destinations like Oxford, Gloucester, Stratford-upon-Avon, Winchcombe and Bath. At one point on my Broadway walk I was mistaken for a professional photographer who was there to photograph a special place. Both Ruth and I especially enjoyed our time in Tisanes Tea Room.
Broadway has a diverse history. It began as a stagecoach stop with lots of inns and developed into a wool trading capital. Just above is a Cotswold Lion, its traditional sheep breed. Its ancestors were Longwool sheep introduced by occupying Romans. In 1683 many locals gave their curiosity cabinets to Oxford to create England’s 1st public museum now known around the world as The Ashmolean. Some remain in the Broadway Museum on High Street. In the 19th century Broadway was discovered by many artists like John Singer Sargent and writers like Arthur Conan Doyle. They visited often, partied here, and gave Broadway a national reputation. After that the Arts and Craft movement became important locally because of Gordon Russell.
While there, it’s a good idea to spend time in the Gordon Russell Design Museum, the Broadway Tourist Information Centre, and especially the Ashmolean Museum (blogged under the title “Accessible Broadway on August 8, 2019). Also, walk or ride to the curious Broadway Tower built by Capability Brown in 1798, which is not exactly in town. Frank Millet, who was born in Massachusetts but lived in Broadway, and his wife Lily started an artists’ colony to engage and entertain many writers and artists in the 19th century more than a hundred years after The Tower was built. Frank later died on the Titanic when it sank in 1912. The Tower is a genuine oddity.