49 Cotswold essentials

Tweed is a Cotswold staple

Tweed is a Cotswold staple - Credit: Archant

No Cotswold home is complete without an Aga, a Barbour and a long dog, says Adam Edwards. Oh, and 46 other essentials too. See how you match up…

The Cotswold country house, like the undulating hills and the drystone wall, is part of the fabric of our area. It exists in a cosy, comfortable world where chintz is always fashionable, even when it isn’t (ie. in London). Not much changes around the house except for the seasons, the occasional extension and the fancy name given to roast chicken by the local gastro-pub’s new owners. Little quarter is given to modern life, with the notable exceptions of central heating, satellite television and broadband. And while every house is different, there are certain things that give them uniformity. For it matters not whether it be a cottage, a converted barn., a rectory or a manor house, if an urbane Martian was beamed inside its rustic walls he would know from a casual glance that it was a Cotswold’s ‘des res’. Here then are the top 48 things that are guaranteed to be found in the well-bred houses of Gloucestershire’s rural gentry.

1. An Aga – the cast-iron altar where even the urban come to worship by warming their bottom against its burnished steel rail.

2. A scrubbed- pine kitchen table, frequently with incongruous legs, that is the all-purpose receptacle for morning after elbows, plates of bacon and egg, coffee, keys and notes for the cleaner

3. Boot Room (however small), with an extensive range of gumboots, old walking sticks and awful rain hats.

4. Barbours (old) – the wax jackets, and its quilted sister the Huskey, that hang in every boot room like mouldy wraiths from the last century

5. Umbrella stand – frequently a capacious fake Chinese vase that is certain to house an old shooting stick, broken whip and redundant swagger stick, but rarely an umbrella.

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6. A hall clock that is inaccurate, ticks loudly and sometimes chimes.

7. Expensive wooden salad bowl – usually a wedding present – that is never washed.

8. Shoe cleaning kit, contained in a box with a muddle of brushes and at least one tin of hard-caked Kiwi black polish.

9. Drinks cabinet (or tray) containing a dusty bottle of Angostura bitters, a half-empty bottle of Pimms a silver-plated cocktail shaker and a full bottle of some disgusting liqueur brought back from Corfu.

10. Leather-bound Visitors’ Book, with fewer entries every year.

11. A Waitrose eco-friendly shopping bag.

12. Quintessential bunting hanging in the kitchen so it looks like a scene straight from the Great British Bake Off. Get your hands on some of the good quality stuff here.

13. Pyrex dish, still the only correct receptacle for pies (shepherd’s) and puddings (crumble).

14. Early Grey tea and builder’s tea, plus instant coffee for The Daily.

15. Leather desk blotter with triangular corners on the desk in the study (but no ink).

16. Silver cigarette box inherited from coughing grandparents, now containing useless trinkets.

17. Small embroidered cushion stitched with an unfunny epigram, regimental colours or similar heraldry of a school, university or clan.

18. A school or university team photograph in the downstairs loo featuring the man of the house at his athletic pinnacle.

19. Jamie Oliver cookbook.

20. Kitchen island, an integral part of the obligatory farmhouse kitchen that also boasts granite worktops, American style fridge/freezer and a Dural it toaster.

21. Aerial photograph of house in cheap frame, normally hung in the downstairs loo.

22. Ingredients for Bloody Mary, including Big Tom mixer, celery salt, Worcester sauce and Tabasco

23. Embossed note cards – with full name, title, address, telephone number and email printed across the top, usually in dark blue.

24. Herb garden with an uncontrolled rosemary bush and an abundance of mint.

25. Pine bath essence – the green liquid that invigorates after a hard day outside, further improved by internal consumption by the bather of an amber liquid.

26. Chunky marmalade and home-made jam, usually bought from the WI stall at the church fete or farmers’ market.

27. Open fire in sitting room with attendant log basket, fire basket and dogs, a poker and rarely used toasting fork.

28. Silver-framed photographs – one of owner’s wedding, one of wife in prettier days, one of each child, several of dogs past and present and one featuring a horse. Also black and white Fifties portrait photograph from the Lenare studio of grandmother looking like a debutante.

29. Portrait(s) of distant relation and at least one inherited oil painting of a country scene that is, according to family folklore, very valuable.

30. A kitchen pin-board containing flyers (for professional cleaners, cinema and local take-aways) postcards

from friends, money-saving coupons and at least one pony club/dog show rosette.

31. Bowl of stale potpourri.

32. Out-of-date Ordnance Survey maps (including one showing the local area surrounding the house pinned up in downstairs loo or boot room).

33. A tweed jacket or a Schoffel fleece.

34. An elderly chintz sofa – with dog hairs.

35. A noisy, dated diesel estate car full of the detritus from dog and children with a sticker on the back relating to hunting, horses or dogs.

36. Unread parish magazine with advertisements for local yoga classes.

37. Small plastic bottles of Molton Brown shampoo and shower gel (stolen from the most recent visit to a London hotel) in the guest bathroom.

38. Upholstered club fender.

39. Folded tartan picnic rug in the hall.

40. Hand-coloured 19th century hunting prints in the back corridors and spare rooms (or possibly dull, pre-war, framed Chinese silk pictures).

41. Reading matter in downstairs loo including old copies of Cotswold Life, The Spectator and Schott’s Original Miscellany.

42. A soft-furnishing low oblong stool in the centre of the sitting room containing glossy magazines.

43. Current (and recently out-of date) invitations – ‘stiffies’ – on the mantelpiece.

44. Backgammon set that looks like a Gucci briefcase.

45. Unused bread-maker, juicer and ice-cream maker in back kitchen cupboard.

46. Boot jack outside the back door for pulling off muddy gumboots.

47. At least one large coir door mat.

48. Jo Malone scented candle with silver candle lid.

49. Dog, in particular a terrier, gun dog or long dog.

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