Here in the Cotswolds, we’re in limestone country. Our local Cotswold stone, naturally formed in the Jurassic period 145 million years ago and since quarried from the Cotswold Hills, is an oolitic limestone with a granular texture, ideal for crafting and building.
Across the Cotswolds, listed building regulations have created a uniform architectural landscape and the stone’s distinct golden hues glow throughout the region. Depending on where the stone is quarried, the colour changes – in the north of the Cotswolds, the stone is honey-coloured, but further south, you’ll see much lighter, cream coloured stone. The stone weathers beautifully, changing in character over generations.
As local architectural stonemasons, we’ve listed three significant places to see the traditional natural stone, all a ‘stone’s throw’ from our workshop in Moreton-in-Marsh:
Four Shire Stone
Believed to be built around 1675 to mark the boundary of Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, the Four Shire Stone is a nine-foot-tall monument, crafted from now weathered and mossy local limestone. Although only a pillar, the stone is a listed building and has great historical significance here in Moreton-in-Marsh; it supposedly replaced other boundary markers, dating back to Roman rule. On each face of the monument, each county’s name has been inscribed by generations of stonemasons before us.
In 1931 the county lines were altered, and now only three counties meet at the stone, with Worcestershire omitted. However, the legacy of the Four Shire Stone lives on. It is believed to have inspired J R R Tolkien’s ‘Three Farthing Stone’, the central point of the Shire in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels.
Chastleton House is a far more grandiose construction from Cotswold limestone. Built in 1612 by Walter Jones, a local wool merchant, this ancient country house stands tall above the lush Oxfordshire countryside as a time capsule for over 400 years of British family life. The limestone houses a treasure-trove of history, including the formation of the formal rules of croquet. Walter Jones, ever the ambitious businessman, codified the previously informal game and soon became a self-styled champion of Croquet.
As a National Trust estate, you can visit the magnificent house all year round and take a stroll around the gardens. Keep your eyes peeled for Offa, Odo and Ottoline, the estate’s cats who love to lounge around the gardens in the sun.
Perhaps one of the most architecturally compelling buildings built from limestone near Moreton-in-Marsh is Sezincote House. It’s fusion of local stone and ornate Indian architecture echoes our colonial history and long-standing fascination with the exotic. In 1795, with riches earned from working with the East India Company, Colonel John Cockerell returned from Bengal and whimsically bought the land to build the Sezincote estate.
Cockerell wanted to recreate the Mughal-style architecture he’d seen on his travels, and so he did. A distinctively Indian weathered-copper onion-dome towers above magnificent limestone facades, and a sprawling decorative garden surrounds the house. Visit Sezincote House and Garden for a truly unique way to admire our local Cotswold stone.
Have Cotswold stone in your home with Wrights of Campden
Echoing this vast history in homes across the Cotswolds is what we do best at Wrights of Campden. We are a highly established architectural stonemason and we work with Cotswold limestone every day.
We are expert hands at crafting and designing limestone to achieve beautiful, natural results in your home and garden. Browse our gallery of projects to see our exceptional work.