As the name Snowshill suggests, this secluded Cotswold village is set in the hills above Broadway, Buckland and Laverton. If there is any snow about you will find it here first, among this picturesque collection of ancient cottages, nineteenth century village church and characterful pub, all clustered around a tiny village green.
The village is famous for its elegant manor house, which features a garden designed by a leading figure of the Arts and Crafts movement, M.H. Baillie Scott. The site on which the manor now stands was owned by Winchcombe Abbey from as early as 821. The dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 led to its inclusion in the marriage dowry of Catherine Parr, although it is fairly certain she never visited. The manor went on to pass through many different hands, which has given it a distinctive architectural style of its own. The oldest surviving part dates from around 1500 and is medieval in design. It was extended and re-shaped in the 1600s before passing into the hands of the Sambrook family in the early 18th century. The Sambrooks radically altered look of the house so that it changed in style from an Elizabethan to a Georgian manor, but always retaining the traditional warm golden-yellow Cotswold stone.
In 1919 the house was bought by eccentric architect and craftsman Charles Paget Wade. Wade bought the house with money made by his father on the sugar plantations in St Kitts and commissioned Baillie Scott to design the gardens. They feature an eccentric combination of terraces and ponds intended as a series of outdoor 'rooms'. The gardens work on organic principles and make good use of bright colours and arresting scents. A number of notable twentieth century figures would have enjoyed the gardens whilst staying at the manor as guests of Wade. These figures include Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene, John Buchan and J.B.Priestly. The house, which is crammed with a bizzare collection of furniture, musical instruments, craft tools, clocks, bicycles and armour, all collected by Wade, is now owned and run as a tourist attraction by the National Trust.
The nearby Snowshill Lavender Farm is a third generation family farm which specialises in lavender. The lavender plant loves the free-draining limestone soils of the Cotswolds and in the year 2000 the family planted 53 acres of lavender fields. The farm is now a booming business and produces and sells the finest quality lavender products including essential oils, soaps and creams.