Speckled with golden-hued villages, rolling hills and picturesque forests, The Cotswolds is England’s largest designated area of natural beauty. The area is steeped in fascinating history dating back to the Neolithic era and has inspired artists, composers and playwrights for centuries. As much as I love the frenetic creative energy of London, my visit came just at the perfect time for some much-needed rest, repose and reflection.
During my drive through the tranquil countryside, I had a moment of realization that, throughout my extensive travels, I rarely had what you’d call a “vacation.” Many of my trips were work-related and even if they weren’t, I spent my time flitting from place to place looking for inspiration, soaking in the culture, meeting people and not wanting to miss out on anything! I decided that The Cotswolds would be the perfect place to slow the pace a little and to immerse myself in the rich legacy of the region.
I was fortunate enough to stay at Thornbury Castle, a former fortress and Tudor country house dating back to 1511. Stepping inside, I wondered what these ornately-decorated walls had seen over the decades. I truly believe that a place retains some energy of the past and Thornbury is somewhere that it could be felt in my core.
Established as a home for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, the castle occupied many pivotal figures in English history, including Jasper Tudor, and even King Henry III and his ill-fated wife Anne Boleyn. Halls were lined with tapestries, suits of armor and relics of years gone by. The extensive grounds, filled with finely trimmed hedges, manicured lawns and blooming floral beds felt completely closed off from the rest of the world.
As part of my stay, the castle hosted evening events where guests dressed in the traditional attire of the time period and enjoyed era-specific food, drinks and activities. During these moments, it was easy to forget that the modern world existed just outside the castle’s doors. They also reminded me how special it is that a place or object can house the memories of its history like a mini time capsule, furthering my obsession with sourcing authentic materials to use in my designs.
Sometimes, taking a moment to free yourself from the constraints of everyday life, clear your mind and be fully present—even if your present is the past—can spark revelations, both personal and professional. When I feel the need for this beautiful repose, I’ll be going back in time once again to The Cotswolds.