Photogenic Landscapes and Historic Sites in Gloucestershire

St Briavels Castle Lower Woods Berkeley Castle Tewkesbury AbbeySt James's Church
Gloucestershire (including the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire) extends from north Bristol in the south to Tewkesbury in the north, and from the River Wye in the west, bordering Wales, to the Cotswolds in the east. Major geographic areas include the eastern half of the Wye Valley, the Forest of Dean, the Vale of Berkeley alongside the River Severn, and, the largest, the Cotswolds themselves, about half of which is within this county.

There are no outstandingly scenic places and no truly wild, undeveloped areas, but plenty of pleasant landscapes, of rolling hills, riparian valleys, ancient woodlands, and estuarine environments along the River Severn. The river becomes a sea around the village of Severn Beach, near the southwest corner of Gloucestershire, though the riversides are coastal in appearance for up to ten miles upstream, however most is bordered by mud flats and grassland, with just a few more photogenic, rocky places such as the cliffs at Aust.

Notable ancient sites are somewhat fewer in number than for adjacent counties like Somerset and Monmouthshire. There are plenty of country houses, still used as residences, and three major medieval churches, at Cirencester, Gloucester and Tewkesbury, together with many smaller religious buildings. Perhaps the best of the small number of ruined places is Hailes Abbey near Winchcombe; nearly all of the other monastic buildings from this period have been incorporated into current buildings, or are no longer visible. Similarly, of the 30 or so castles in the county, all are either completely disappeared, evident only from low earthworks, or are intact and still occupied.


Beverston Castle - also known as Tetbury Castle, this is a privately owned structure in the Cotswolds, built in the 13th century. Part is ruined, while other sections have been incorporated into a modern residence

Berkeley Castle - the third oldest continuously occupied castle in England, after Windsor Castle and the Tower of London; home of the Berkeley family since the early 12th century

St Briavels Castle - constructed in the 12th century, near the Forest of Dean. Some buildings are intact, and used as a youth hostel, while the public can visit the ruined areas

Sudeley Castle - privately-owned Tudor castle with extensive gardens; tours available

Thornbury Castle - a manor house rather than a true castle, this was built in the early 16th century then later extensively altered. It is now a hotel


, and other major churches

Church of St John Baptist, Cirencester - one of the largest parish churches in the country, some parts dating from the 12th century. Impressive perpendicular gothic architecture

Gloucester Cathedral - imposing, city centre Norman cathedral with many fine architectural features. Contains the tomb of Edward II

St Mary's Priory Church, Deerhurst - one of the oldest parish churches in the country, the central section dating from the start of the 9th century

Tewkesbury Abbey - large Norman church, famous for its well-preserved Gothic architecture


Lower Woods - one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in south England; a group of over 20 small, adjoining woods, separated by broad, grassy tracks

Ruined Abbeys

, and other disused religious buildings

Hailes Abbey - atmospheric ruins of a Cistercian monastery near Winchcombe, founded around 1245

St James' Church - ruins of a small church in the Wye Valley, the only remnant from the medieval village of Lancaut

Kingswood Abbey - intact gatehouse of a Cistercian monastery, the remainder having been completely demolished

Odda's Chapel - small but nearly complete Saxon chapel, constructed in 1056

Map of Featured Gloucestershire Locations