Broadway - Gateway to the Cotswolds
Sheer beauty and charm have earnt Broadway its well deserved title the 'Jewel of the Cotswolds'. The ʻbroad wayʼ leads from the base of the Cotswolds escarpment as an elegant tree-lined street with ancient honey-coloured limestone buildings which date back to the 16th century. The Lygon Arms, said to be the most famous inn in England, was originally called The White Hart and has hosted, at different times, both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.Broadway nestles at the foot of Fish Hill (where monks used to store fish and the 18th century Fish Inn once stood). Broadway Tower, a marvellous folly built by Lady Coventry in the 1790s, stands at 65 feet on top of the hill overlooking the village and was a much loved retreat for the Arts and Crafts Movement founder William Morris. From the top of the tower on a clear day, you can see no fewer than 14 counties.
Broadway High Street
Broadway village became a busy staging post on the route from Worcester to London as coaches had to harness extra horses for the long pull up the hill. As many as 33 inns existed within the village to service the many travellers passing through. To this day, Broadway still has an excellent selection of inns, hotels and restaurants. Click here to view Broadway attractions.
Broadway and its long association with the Arts
Broadway has been the inspiration for many writers and artists including Henry James, J. M. Barrie, Vaughan Williams, Edward Elgar, John Singer Sargent, Sir Alfred Parsons, Leonard Hutton and William Morris. By the 1880ʼs, a small band of American artists, headed by Francis Millet, discovered Broadway as a ʻquaint reflection of a long ago country villageʼ. John Singer Sargent paid his first visit to Broadway in September 1885 to recuperate from a head wound received while diving from a weir. He had been invited to go to this little Worcestershire village by his friend, the American painter Edwin Austin Abbey. It was here that Sargent painted what was later to become one of his best loved paintings ʻCarnation, Lily, Lily, Roseʼ.
In more recent times, Broadway was home to furniture designer, Sir Gordon Russell (1892-1980). In 1923, he founded Gordon Russell Ltd to produce furniture and by the 1930ʼs he and his brother Dick had built a reputation as designers of modern furniture based in the Cotswold Arts and Crafts tradition. Elected a royal designer for industry in 1940, his public service included a stint as chair for the panel designing “utility” furniture (1943-47), and director of the Council of Industrial Design. Until recently, the factory was situated at the rear of the High Street, with his prestigious showrooms in what is now shared by our own galleries, and Russells Restaurant..
Broadway and the surrounding villages offer the visitor a wonderful variety of places to eat, stay and visit – go to the links page to see a selection.