Bill and I wandered around Bibury the other day, giving our dog Monty a run around the public footpaths and letting him bark at the ducks who had the nerve to be out of the water! We used to come here when the children were small and try to feed the ducks. I say try because the trout in the river are terrible bullies and would beat the ducks to the soggy scraps. These days there are notices asking us not to feed the ducks as the quantity of food going into the river was distorting the duck population and causing havoc with the trout.
Bibury is a charming, typically Cotswold, village just a short drive from Cirencester. It was William Morris who called Bibury “The most beautiful village in England” with its wonderful stone buildings strung out along the banks of the River Coln.
Arlington Row, owned by the National Trust, is one of England’s most iconic and photographed sites – it even appears on the inside cover of UK passports! Originally built in the 14th century as a monastic wool store, it was converted in the 1700s into a row of weavers’ cottages. The cottages are now lived in by National Trust tenants, with no public access to the cottages or gardens, although one of them can be rented out as a holiday cottage. Judy, one of the lovely ladies who worked for me, was a tenant in Arlington row and came downstairs one morning to find her kitchen full of Japanese tourists.
The River Coln flows through Bibury sandwiched between the main village street and an expanse of boggy water meadow known as Rack Isle, so called because wool was once hung out to dry there on racks after it had been washed. With Arlington Row as a backdrop, it makes one of the most picturesque scenes you will find in the Cotswolds.
Many years ago, Bill and hosted a sampler weekend in the Cotswolds and we brought the group out to Bibury, to see Arlington Row. It was not only because I thought they would like it, but also because I had created a little surprise for each guest when they came to dinner that evening. I had designed a little cross stitch of Arlington Row as a souvenir of their stay.