On Sunday 8 September 2013 Lord Vestey, Patron of Friends of the Cotswolds charity, will be opening his beautiful gardens to the public. The Estate has been owned by the Vestey family since 1921. It extends over 5,500 acres of grassland, arable and woodland on both banks of the river Coln and is set in the beautiful Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Cotswold District Council announced its intentions to sell Northleach Old Prison in 2011 to save itself the repair and maintenance costs. And in July of this year and after a lengthy fundraising campaign the Friends of the Cotswolds charity has taken ownership.
The ‘Friends’ wants to turn the Grade II-listed prison into a community heritage site and open a rural crafts academy. Simon Randall, chairman of the group, said the academy would “promote training in stone-walling, hedge-laying and provide work for blacksmiths and wheelwrights”.
The prison was built in the 1790s as the Northleach House of Correction, one of four houses of correction in Gloucestershire and the keeper’s house, female cells, police station, court room and front facade and perimeter wall still survive
All proceeds from the open day will be donated by Lord Vestey towards the fund raising efforts by the ‘Friends’.

Stowell Park Gardens will open from 2pm – 5pm and the entrance fee will be £6 for adults with children admitted free. Sorry no dogs permitted except assistance dogs.

The Friends of the Cotswolds charity was initially conceived in the late 90’s and formerly incorporated on 14 October 1998. However it did not become active until seven local people with strong links to the Cotswolds decided in 2007 to drive the charity forward to fulfill the aims for which it was first created. Those being to promote, enhance and conserve the AONB and its surrounding areas, to raise awareness about the natural environment and to provide activities and facilities within the natural environment to improve the quality of life for people living or working in the Cotswolds and for visitors.