At first glance, a village with the word ‘slaughter’ in its name doesn’t sound like the most appealing place to visit. However, a visit to Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds will not disappoint.
Built alongside the sleepy River Eye in central England, Lower Slaughter is one of the most beautiful Cotswolds villages. Its picturesque mill, historic church, and beautiful golden stone buildings make for a perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend or a quick stop on a road trip in the Cotswolds.
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Brief history of Lower Slaughter
People have occupied the site of Lower Slaughter since at least 1086: the Domesday Book records a village here with the name “Sclostre.” Given the long history of human settlement in the region tracing back to the Iron Age, it is very likely that the area saw human settlement long before 1086.
Despite its ominous-sounding name, the word “slaughter” actually derives from the Old English “slough” meaning “wet land” or “muddy place.” When we visited, weeks of heavy wind and rain had hit the region hard and Lower Slaughter was definitely both wet and muddy, living up to its name!
Things to do in Lower Slaughter
Much smaller than its larger neighbors Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold, part of the charm of visiting Lower Slaughter is that there’s not much to do. Just two narrow footbridges connect the two sides of the village together and you can easily circle the village in a half-hour.
It’s equally possible to spend a weekend staying in one of its historic hotels, strolling the small streets, and hiking around the area. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be charmed by this tiny Cotswold village.
Admire the beautiful homes
Like most houses in the Cotswolds, those in Lower Slaughter date to the 16th and 17th centuries and are built with local Cotswold sandstone. A quick stroll around the village will have you picking out potential dream cottages for retirement or holiday homes.
Church of St. Mary
Situated across from the Slaughters Country Inn, this small parish church dates back to the 13th century. While most of the current structure dates to 1867, the nave arcade dates to the original church.
The Old Mill
The Domesday Book of 1086 records a mill on this site. Beginning in the 14th century, the mill became known as Slaughter Mill. The current structure is actually a 19th-century watermill that was in use until 1958. Inside the mill today, you’ll find a cute gift shop, a small museum, and a café with a terrace.
Walk to Upper Slaughter
One mile from Lower Slaughter, Upper Slaughter is an even quieter village sat atop a hill. You can walk alongside the road or through the trails that connect the two. (I opted for the former as the trails were incredibly muddy after weeks of heavy rain.) Upper Slaughter pairs very nicely with a trip to Lower Slaughter as the two are some of the most peaceful and picturesque villages in the Cotswolds.
Where to stay in Lower Slaughter
Despite its small size, Lower Slaughter offers two historic accommodation options for a trip to the Cotswolds. Even if you don’t stay in Lower Slaughter on your trip to the Cotswolds, both hotels are worth noting during your visit because of their fascinating histories.
Slaughters Manor House
The Slaughters Manor House traces its history to the beginning of the 11th century. A manor house stood on this site as early as 1004. The Manor became a convent in 1443, housing nuns from the order of Syon. The Manor returned to the crown in 1603 and was granted to Sir George Whitmore, High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, in 1611. It remained in his family until 1964 when it became a hotel.
The Slaughters Country Inn
The Slaughters Country Inn dates back to 1470 when the Washbourne family erected a building they called Washbourne Place. The building was originally divided into three farmers’ cottages and stables. In the 1920s, the building was converted into a large private house just before it became a cramming school meant to prepare boys for Eton College (the elite boarding school in Windsor for boys 13-18 founded by King Henry VI in 1440). The school closed and reverted to private ownership in 1988 when it became the Washbourne Court Hotel. It transferred ownership in 2011 and was renamed The Slaughters Country Inn.
When to visit Lower Slaughter
I visited Lower Slaughter in late February and had the village almost entirely to myself. While ideally, I would have waited for a warmer (and sunnier) time to visit, I enjoyed the breezy day I spent there.
I’m a big fan of traveling during the shoulder seasons and if you’re hoping to experience Lower Slaughter or the Cotswolds without crowds, I recommend visiting between April and June and after the July-August busy season. And while the fall, winter, and early spring months might seem cold and bleak, there’s something romantic about cozying up by a warm fire in a historic hotel after a nice walk outside — just bring layers and waterproof boots!
Getting to Lower Slaughter
Lower Slaughter is only accessible via car on a minor road off the A429. You can also access the village via foot from Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold. If you visit by car, there is street parking at the beginning of the village by The Slaughters Country Inn.
What else to see near Lower Slaughter
The village is situated just one mile from Upper Slaughter, making it the perfect neighboring village to visit. The village also lies between the larger Cotswold villages of Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold, both of which make perfect stops on a trip to the Cotswolds. Read more about beautiful villages in the Cotswolds to visit.