Broadway Tower: A Guide and History
Appearing like a miniature castle atop the Cotswold escarpment, Broadway Tower is one of the iconic landmarks of Gloucestershire and the entire Cotswolds region for that matter. All year round visitors to Broadway village set off along the Cotswold Way walking trail to visit this magnificent gothic folly. From admiring the tower’s unique architecture to strolling around a country park and attending craft workshops, there’s a wealth of things to see and do here. Read on for our complete guide and a brief history of the tower.
A Storied History
One might wonder how a gothic-style castle tower came to exist above the village. Well, back in the 18th century the landscape designer Capability Brown had a vision. This vision was carried out by George William, the 6th Earl of Coventry, who enlisted the help of the renowned architect James Wyatt. For the location, they chose a beacon hill that was once a pre-medieval trading route and, at 1,023 feet (312 metres) above sea level, is the second-highest point of the Cotswolds.
Originally designed as a folly, the tower became a country park after falling into the hands of Sir Thomas Phillips. As Broadway gained popularity as a destination for the Arts and Crafts movement in the mid-1800s, so did the now-iconic landmark’s use as an artist’s retreat. Several pre Raphaelite artists stayed here, including the craftsman William Morris.
Broadway Tower opened to tourists in 1976 and today stands as part of the architectural fabric of the village and Cotswolds.
What to See and Do at Broadway Tower
There’s so much to enjoy at this country retreat that you could easily spend an entire day here. Gaze up at the tower’s battlements, gargoyles and turrets designed by James Wyatt. Inside, exhibitions highlight the evolution of this eccentric monument and the stories of the people that made it possible. Be sure to climb to the top for spectacular views that span an incredible 16 English counties.
Outside, a resident herd of red deer roam the 50-acre park. You can follow a circular walk around the entire estate — remember to bring your wellies on wet days. Rest on the lush sloping lawns, set up a picnic and marvel at panoramic views over the Cotswold escarpment. On clear days, the Malvern Hills and Welsh mountains are visible in the distance — it’s easy to see why this is regarded as one of England’s outstanding viewpoints.
If you are still looking for something to pique your curiosity then check out the park’s Nuclear Bunker. Dug 15 feet into the hill, the bunker is a vestige of the Cold War and was once one of a network of bunkers scattered across the UK. Check the website for details about a guided tour conducted by members of the Royal Observer Corps.
Fancy doing a bit of shopping, grabbing a bite to eat or even learning a new skill? The Tower Barn visitor centre puts on arts and crafts workshops (consult the website for the latest schedule) and doubles up as a gift shop that sells clothing and interior items. It also has a restaurant with a menu of everything from coffees and afternoon teas to local beers and ciders. Still hungry? Follow a winding pathway through the park to the kid-friendly Morris and Brown Café for hot chocolates, cakes, sandwiches and more delicious treats.
Broadway Tower Info for Visitors
Broadway Tower is a little over a mile from The Broadway Hotel. There’s plenty of onsite parking if you plan to drive here. That said, part of the beauty of a visit is the walk from Broadway village via the Cotswold Way. You could even extend your Cotswold walking adventure by continuing on the trail to nearby Chipping Camden.
You can visit the tower every day of the year, including bank holidays. There’s an admission fee, which is worth every penny for a full day with activities for all ages. Better still, the fees help fund the preservation of the tower and park. For those that want to explore but give their feet a rest at the same time, there’s the possibility to rent an e-bike for the day.
The Broadway Hotel is an ideal setting for exploring Broadway Tower and Cotswold attractions in the surrounding counties of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. Get in touch today to book a stay at our luxury 16th-century accommodation.