10 most charming villages in England

Have you ever scrolled through social media and found breathtaking pictures of small villages located in England? Have you ever wondered where those villages are and what can you do once you get there? In this article, I am going to suggest medieval villages in England to visit. You have the 10 best villages in England in the following headings. From the oldest village in England to the small villages in England, you will find it all in this article.

Let’s just explore through museums, churches, memorials, thatched cottages and endless coastlines of crystal clear water. We also have castles and fortresses for anyone wanting to travel back to the medieval ages. Let’s see the 10 prettiest villages in England!

1. Rye, a beautiful village in East Sussex

medieval villages in england to visit

Rye is just one of those medieval villages in England to visit, located in East Sussex. I think it’s one of the most charming villages in England. What is there to do in Rye? The simplest thing you can do is just walk through the village. Exploring those small cobbled stones and letting them lead you through these charming houses. Speaking of houses, you can visit the Rye Heritage Centre houses where Rye’s rich history and folklore is brought to life by dramatic sound and light effects.

You can also visit Rye Castle Museum where you are able to experience the town’s shipbuilding past. Rye Castle Museum used to be a bottling factory, however, now you can watch plenty of exhibitions of Rye’s history. I find that Rye is definitely one of the most scenic villages in England, especially during autumn. Let’s see the other 10 best villages in England!

2. Shaftesbury, Village in South West England

medieval villages in england to visit

Shaftesbury is definitely one of the prettiest villages in South West England. This beautiful village is known for its charm and history, founded over 1100 years ago. This charming village hasn’t changed much since the 18th century. It is one of the best villages in England you could visit if you are looking for markets. From book fairs, to flee markets and Farmers’ Markets, you can find it all. Shaftesbury is just one of the many medieval villages to visit in England. Why not go and take a walk in this beautiful park the village has to offer. Looking over St James and across the Blackmore Vale, you even get to see the Dorset styling on better days.

In case you were looking for that picturesque view you can upload on Instagram, Gold Hill is waiting for you. This is what I really love about England. When the sun goes down, during golden hour, these old houses look extraordinary. Gold Hill is known as “Hovis Hill”, named after the famous advertisement from 1973 made for Hovis Bread, “Boy on a Bike“. Shaftesbury also has its own museum, Gold Hill Museum & Garden as well as an arts centre for any art lovers out there. It might be one of the small villages in England, however, it’s versatile and rich in history, markets and even in architecture. Don’t miss out on the three churches: Holy Trinity Church, St Peter’s Church and St Jame’s Church.

3. Polperro, the Cornish Riviera

If you live in England or have visited England, you might have heard of Cornwall. The place that is called Cornish Riviera is filled with the best villages in England. One of the 10 best villages in England is in Cornwall and it’s called Polperro. This small village looks like it’s not in England but somewhere in the South of Europe. Polperro, like many of these villages, is best to be explored on foot. The streets are so narrow that they banned cars from entering. I guess Polperro is also one of those thatched cottage villages in England. The small cottages are covered with flowers and attract many tourists during the summer.

Polperro is known for its smuggling activities during the 18th and 19th centuries. Believe it or not, it is said that everyone in the village was smuggling to hide the duty-free goods. If you want to learn more about the smuggling of the locals, you should definitely visit the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing. The museum consists of a collection of exhibits and photographs of times when smuggling and fishing was just a normal everyday activity.

Polperro is definitely one of the prettiest villages in South West England. With its rocky shores and rugged coastline, you can explore the culture while also enjoying the sea at low tide and go for a swim!

4. Castle Comb, Instagrammable village in England

medieval villages in england to visit

Castle Comb is known to be one of the prettiest villages in South West England and definitely on our list of medieval villages in England to visit. Why would you want to visit Castle Comb? Just like with many of these villages, Castle Comb is a little charming village, with old houses looking breathtaking during sunny days. Tourists have been visiting Castle Comb for a century for its picturesque views. The remaining of today’s castle above the village used to be a British hill fort. Occupied by the Romans, then later by the Normans who actually built the castle from a fort. The most scenic village in England was a center for the wool industry. The river provided the power to run the mills and in the cottages lived spinsters and weavers.

This little village is so special, that even film producers like to come here and film. Movies such as ‘Doctor Doolittle’, ‘Stardust’ and ‘War Horse’ have all been filmed in Castle Comb. There are quite a few things to do here. The Market Cross believed to date from the 14th century is a center-piece of the village. St George, or now called ‘Castle House’ was built by Nathaniel Elver to use as an alehouse. You can see on the house it’s dated in 1672 with the NE initials. The Dower House was Dr Dolittle house in the film in 1966. In real life, it was a home of a doctor. Of course, you can’t miss out on visiting St Andrew’s Church, dated back in 1291. The tower was constructed in 1435 thanks to the wealthy businesses in the village.

5. Bibury, Hobit like cottages

medieval villages in england to visit

Bibury is described as the most beautiful village in England. I think we have the 10 best villages in England in this article, however, the list could probably go on. England is breathtaking altogether, no matter where you go. There is just something special about the prettiest villages in South West England, one of them being Bibury. When I first looked at Bibury, I thought about the ‘Hobbit’ movie. These small houses just look so welcoming and charming. The thatched cottages villages in England sure have their own charm and if you want to have a nice Instagram feed, you should definitely visit Bibury as well. The cottages are called Arlington Row and were built in 1380 as a monastic wool store. Just like the other villages, Arlington Row was also used for movies such as ‘Stardust’.

When you are in Bibury, you should definitely visit Bibury Trout Farm which is in the heart of Cotswold village of Bibury, known to be founded in 1902! Visitors have been welcomed to the farm since 1965 and are invited to see how the fish are fed and learn about the life of a Trout. Can you imagine that each year about 10 million Rainbow Trout are spawned? The best villages in England always have a lovely church for you to visit. The Church of St. Mary has a mesmerizing stained glass window designed in 1927 by Karl Parsons.

If you want to have a summer trip with the kids and you’re in the area, you can also visit the Blenheim Palace and Cotswold Water Park. The most scenic villages in England definitely have a variety of things to offer.

6. Amesbury, the home of Stonehenge 

You might be wondering why did I upload a picture of Stonehenge. Amesbury is the oldest village in England and is 2 miles away from Stonehenge. Amesbury is located in Wiltshire and it is claimed to have been first settled around 8820 BC. Stonehenge is the best example to show how the village was settled since prehistoric times. You would think that Amesbury is lucky to have Stonehenge so close, however, it does not directly benefit from the monument’s earnings.

Everyone is familiar with Stonehenge, but what is there to see in Amesbury? I would suggest visiting Amesbury Abbey which is a Grade I listed mansion. We can thank Thomas Hopper for designing this gorgeous mansion for Sir Edmund Antrobus in the 1830s. Although Amesbury Abbey is used as a care home today, you can still visit this beautiful Palladian-style mansion. If you want to have a drink and rest, you are more than welcome to visit one of the 4 pubs: The King Arms, The George Hotel, The New Inn and The Bell. You can enjoy a good beer during the summer and explore the beauties of this oldest village in England.

7. Ludlow, an architectural gem

medieval villages in england to visit

Ludlow, one of the 10 best villages in England is a market town in Shropshire. The village is also one of the thriving medieval villages in England to visit. It is considered an architectural gem and by looking at the above picture, everyone can understand why. Ludlow is busy with many festivals and events throughout the year. These small villages in England are just perfect for taking long walks with your loved ones. You can discover the restaurants and cafes on the way, even talk to the locals about what their daily lives look like. If you’re looking for some fun, definitely visit the Ludlow Food and Drink Festival in September.

In case you were looking for things to do, then we suggest visiting Ludlow Castle. Constructions started around 1085 and have continued for another two centuries. The architecture style features the Normal, Medieval, and Tudor periods. I just love castles and fortresses. They always made me dream of living in medieval times in the most charming villages in England. Ludlow is also known to have been the headquarters of Edward IV Council of the Marches in Wales in the late 15th century. Unfortunately, it ceased to exist in 1689, yet before it was full of clerks, royal messengers, and lawyers. Whether you are looking for a walk or learn about the rich history, Ludlow is definitely among the 10 prettiest villages in England.

8. Hutton-le-Hole, the village in a National Park

medieval villages in england to visit

I can’t lie, I chose this village because of its interesting name, however, also because it is one of the most scenic villages in England. Hutton-le-Hole lies in a hollow or hole, hence the reason why it got this name. The interesting thing about this is that this lovely little village lies within the North York Moors National Park. You not only get to enjoy the beauty of one of the most charming villages in England, but you can also visit the National Park. If you are looking to learn something new, then definitely visit Ryedale Folk Museum, this should take up about half a day of your time. The museum holds over 20 reconstructed buildings, including the Tudor mansion, vintage photographer’s studio, craft workshops, and farm buildings. At the same museum, you can visit annual events and workshops.

I will suggest again taking a walk or even cycle in Hutton-le-Hole. The summer and autumn would help you take some mesmerizing pictures for your social media accounts. In the meantime visit ‘Heritage Cycle Rides’ which will show you local villages, viewpoints, and places of interest. In case you are into crafting, you shouldn’t miss out on Hole Craft Workshops filled with a handmade chocolate, rugs, glassware, ceramics, and so on. Just as with the other small villages in England, you will find St Mary’s church, where you can see a Norman crypt. Getting towards the end now. Which is your favorite out of the 10 best villages in England?

9. Bamburgh, a fortress town

Did I mention before how I love castles? Bamburgh is yet another one of the medieval villages in England to visit. It just looks like a place where you could move in with all your family and friends and live there happily ever after. The history of Bamburgh is quite rich, dating back to the prehistoric period in Northumbria. I am not going to bore you with the long history, however, it is worth mentioning that tools of hunter-gatherers were found in Bamburgh. Not only this but also Neolithic period people who were farmers left some stones and tools at Bamburgh. A few hundred years later, a wooden church was built which has the name of St Aidan’s Church and it is also a Grade I building. You can find Grace Darling’s tomb here.

Bamburgh is probably the oldest village in England as well, even if it wasn’t necessarily founded as early as Amesbury. The simple fact that so many tools and stones were left by hunters after the ice age just proves how men have always been in this territory. It is safe to say that you should plan a few days around this area. You not only get to visit the Bamburgh Castle, which in itself is quite huge, you can also visit the Grace Darling museum, the church and also try out the local pubs and restaurants for an authentic feeling.

The Bamburgh Castle is truly mesmerizing and puts this village at the top of the most scenic villages in England. The castle is believed to have been occupied for over 10,000 years. The World’s first ‘lifeboat’ was also tested here! The castle today is owned by the Armstrong family who has bought it in 1894. Don’t miss out on all the interesting information when visiting Bamburgh!

10. Burford, a charming little village

Now for the last most charming villages in England, we have Burford. Burford was founded in the middle Saxon period near a modern priory building. This building was constructed around 1580 and it is called Burford Priory. One of the best things to visit is the Church of St John the Baptist, another Grade I listed building, known to be a permanent memorial to Burford’s medieval wealth. Burford is also blessed to have a High Street with the possibility to shop souvenirs but also antiques. If you are interested in the oldest things in the world, Burford has had England’s oldest pharmacy, Reavley’s, since 1734.

In case you are interested in museums, then you should visit the Tolsey Museum which is in a Tudor market building. The museum holds a wide range of Burford’s social and working culture. Inside the museum, you can enjoy exhibits about bell-founding, rope-making, brewing, farming, and so on. You will also find a famous doll’s house, furnished in the style of the Jane Austen period. So as you can see, Burford is also very versatile, you can walk, learn history, visit museums, churches, and shops.

The most beautiful villages in England

Before we finish, don’t forget to check out our list of the best cities in England! This concluded our article on the most beautiful villages in England. We have introduced you to many thatched cottage villages in England which you can visit at any time. We do recommend visiting during the summer or autumn, just to get the most out of the scenery. These are just a few medieval villages in England to visit while you are on holiday or even on a school trip.

My favorite of it all is definitely Bamburgh and the Bamburgh Castle. Since I was a child I was interested in castles and fortresses, I always found the armory and the royal rooms intriguing. These are definitely the 10 prettiest villages in England and I am sure you will enjoy every second of it. Please comment down below and let us know which one of the 10 best villages in England did you like. Have you visited any of them?

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Piroska Vigh

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