Cotswold Town: Broadway
- Credit: Archant
Quintessential English village Broadway is all set to sparkle again this month in the run up to Christmas
It’s time for Christmas shopping again. HOW soon does it come round? My goodness, well let’s get started post haste, then. November is the month to get it all done so you can relax in December and concentrate on preparing menus and the visits from the rellies. OK, well that’s not relaxing. At all. So, let’s get back to the shopping; one thing at a time. And breathe.
In the Cotswolds we are spoilt for choice for main retail destinations, with the larger towns and cities such as Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Birmingham and Bristol within easy reach. That’s great, but what about those unique little gifts we all want to surprise our loved ones with, something they can really treasure? Trying to find that extra special gift for someone, one which few others have, is your mission. My guess is you’ll find it in Broadway.
The village is known for its excellent eateries, countryside activities, the golden architecture, but lining its main street and within the Cotswold Court are some delightful shops and art galleries (quite too many to list but you won’t miss them) where gifts of all shapes, sizes and prices are waiting to be discovered.
Essential dates for your diary are Friday, November 27 and Friday, December 4 from 5.30pm until 8.30pm when there is late-night shopping. You can get details of this regular and popular event at BeautifulBroadway.com but here’s a taster.
The commercial community of independent traders that is Broadway looks forward to it almost as much as the regular customers, enjoying the process of dressing their windows, occasion specific, and decorating the interiors of their spaces. Many put on glasses of bubbly and mince pies to help you along the way. In the evening darkness, pretty baubles twinkle, throwing light upon the golden stone, bringing such a Christmassy atmosphere you won’t want to leave. Carol singers in groups of old-fashioned dress serenade you with carols as you pop in and out of the shops or stand and stare at the street entertainers. You are bound to get a glass of mulled wine and, who knows, some say even Father Christmas will attend!
I am lucky enough to get a heads-up on all of this as I meet a few of those who will be participating. One of the newest to join this year is Ali Hocking, who has partnered with her mother Angela McSweeney to form Betty & Violet – her grandmothers’ names. Inside are handmade fairies, angels, mini tiaras, Christmas decorations, old books and little sparkling diamanté Christmas trees of which one, I know, will grace my own mother’s mantelpiece this year for sure but, sshh, don’t tell her!
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Angela explains to me they opened only in September of this year and they both just love the area.
“It’s a new lease of life for me!” she enthuses, “my daughter buys in such unique items in textiles and all sorts of lovely things. She has been doing this for six years and it’s been a natural progression to obtain a shop. Local people have been most welcoming and friendly. Christmas is my daughter’s love and she buys all year round for it.”
Sisters Laura and Sharon Hughes are inside admiring the stock and tell me they are on a break from west London.
“The village is just magical,” they say, “it seems so historical and pretty; a walk back in time, it’s a treat to be here.”
Along the main street is Landmark – I am drawn in by the seasonal shooting scene in the window -and I chat to Fred Long, who has been Operations Manager there for 10 years.
“Broadway is the quintessential English village,” Fred says, “we love to participate in Late Night Shopping each year. We put out some festive drinks and mince pies for our customers and they all enjoy it.
“When customers ask where to eat as they are indulging in their glass of fizz, I say Russell’s, which is a favourite of mine, but really all are good in the village. We are so lucky. The shooting set, amongst others, come here for their clothes – we stock lifestyle brands; Moleskine trousers, Schoffel, Barbour, SuperDry and others, comfortable cashmere, along with some special items for that unusual present. Broadway is a great place to be, with a strong retail community. We look out for each other.”
Michelle Ward, Retail & Sales Manager also of Landmark, agrees.
“I’m originally from Toronto so I find the place magical. So many places to walk around here. It’s very ‘chocolate box’, you just have to love it don’t you!”
Through the courtyard shopping area you will find places to pick up that gift but also a real café society thrives in the village, with tables out on the pavements and visitors milling around. At Muse the hairdressers, they get involved in a philanthropic Christmas.
“Our clients donate food and we sell tickets,” says Harriet, on the desk, “our owners John Holland and Martin Dollard do it each year. The proceeds of which go to the Foodbank at Evesham. We do this through the whole of November and December and the village really gets involved. Our clients flock in with goods and it’s a happy, crazy atmosphere here in the salon!”
For the foodies amongst you, you can pop into Broadway Deli where they have Christmas packages of wine, chocolate, cake and cheese. The ideal thing to present to your host (are you the visiting rellie?) on your Yuletide getaway.
Hotels in the area include quite a choice. The Broadway Hotel set back from the green with its 19 bedrooms, a racing theme (Cheltenham racecourse is but a short distance away) which boasts The Jockey Bar and Tattersall’s Brasserie.
The Lygon Arms offers Festive Stays and Parties; these are very popular and need early booking. On offer are group festive lunches too at £29.95 per guest. Perfect for the office lunch? Who can persuade the boss to book?
It’s clear you will want to put these Late Night Shopping dates into your diary, for relative quiet and peace away from the busier towns as you check off your neverending list. Perhaps we’ll meet as you see me there sipping some mulled wine, picking up that sparkly Christmas tree ornament, or watching the rides on double decker buses or pony and trap trips. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to sit on Santa’s knee – never too old for that. Happy Broadway!
You can visit our other Cotswold towns here...