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Things to do in Bishops Cleeve, Gloucestershire

Church Cottage Bishops Cleeve
Church Cottage © John Matthews [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The large village of Bishops Cleeve is situated at the bottom of Cleeve Hill, three miles north of Cheltenham in the picturesque Cotswolds.

The village dates back to the 8th century with even earlier archaeological evidence of Roman and Iron Age settlements.

By 1086 the Domesday Book recorded there were 100 inhabitants, compared to over 10,000 residents today.

Bishops Cleeve and The Malvern Hills
Bishops Cleeve and The Malvern Hills © By Nilfanion (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The village was originally known as Timbingctun, and later as Cliffe.

The unusual present-day name, Bishops Cleeve, probably originated from when the land belonged to the Bishop of Worcester's Manor of Cleeve.

The original village had a monastery, built on land donated by Offa, King of Mercia, in the 8th century.

The local Church of St Michael and All Angels was later built on the site.

The church has some Norman features but was largely rebuilt in the 17th century, including the tower and the arches in the nave.

Present Day Bishops Cleeve

All Angels Church Bishops Cleeve
All Angels Church © By Tfennell (Tim Fennell) at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bishops Cleeve has an aura of Old England with 31 listed buildings.

Some of the thatched, half-timbered houses date back to the 12th century and 13th century.

The Village Hall was formerly the Tithe Barn and the Old Rectory also dates back to the 13th century.

In the centre of the village on a courtyard car park is an extraordinary brick-built structure held together with metal ties.

This was a wheelwright's furnace and was where iron rims were heated, fitted around wooden cartwheels and plunged in water to contract and fit snugly.

The building dates back to around 1910 and although rubber tyres were in existence, iron-rimmed cartwheels remained in use for many more decades.

In more recent times, new housing has sprung up around the old village to accommodate workers for the local industries such as Zurich Financial Services which now occupy the old Priory buildings.

Remains of Bishops Cleeve Rail Station
Remains of Bishops Cleeve Railway Station © Ben Brooksbank [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bishops Cleeve has a good range of local services with local shops, restaurants and other small businesses more commonly found in towns.

The village is served by two primary schools and a secondary school.

Although the village once had its own railway station, after closure part of the line from Cheltenham Racecourse to Toddington was reopened, operating as the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Heritage Railway.

Before 1965 the railway ran to Cheltenham Racecourse for royal visits.

Things to do in Bishops Cleeve

Cleeve Hill is the highest point in the Cotswolds and there are several routes with varying degrees of difficulty for climbing to the top.

The summit is 1,083 feet (33m), from which there are panoramic views on a clear day as far as Exmoor, 90 miles away.

Cleeve Hall in Bisops Cleeve
Cleeve Hall © Philip Halling [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Rock climbers will find Castle Rock, part of Cleeve Hill, offers short but challenging opportunities for rock climbing.

Fossil hunting is popular as fossils of ammonites have been found around Bishop's Cleeve.

Cleeve Hill Golf Club was founded in 1891 and is a popular 6,411 yard 18-hole, par 72 course.

The starting hole, at 558 yards, was once the longest first hole on any golf course in the country.

Hazards uniquely include the ditch and earthworks of an Iron Age hill fort!

Other local attractions include the gracious stately home of Sudeley Castle with its lovely gardens.

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