Why Cotswold Stone Creates Beautiful Homes

Posted on: 3 March 2023

The geology of Cotswold Stone

Cotswold stone is a form of limestone, a sedimentary rock variety that typically comprises calcium carbonate derived from the skeletal remains of millennia-old marine organisms.

One of the key geological features of Cotswold stone is its granular texture, which is referred to as having an oolite appearance. 

Oolite is a derivation of the Hellenic word "ooion," which roughly translates to “egg”. This is because when you look closely at an oolite surface, you can see a cluster of small bumps that are distinctly egg-like. 

Each of the individual bumps (or eggs) within a cluster is known as an individual ooid, with countless small clusters making up the beautiful buildings we see throughout the Cotswold villages today.

Intriguingly, the rocks that make up the Cotswolds region are from three different times of the Jurassic Period, dating from 210-240 million years ago. 

Buying a home in the Cotswolds is a genuine step back into the pre-historic era. This wonderful architecture is a significant reason the region is a sought-after location for potential homeowners.

Uses of Cotswold Stone in history & today 

Cotswold stone has long been used as a building material in the Midlands and further afield due to its versatility, strength, and aesthetic properties. 

Once quarried, Cotswold stone can be easily split into blocks. It’s extremely strong and weather resistant, making it the ideal building material for various architectural structures.

It is thought that the Romans were the first to discover the properties of Cotswold stone and were responsible for its use in constructing buildings throughout Britain. 

After all, it's not only quaint Cotswold homes that are comprised of the eponymous stone; Blenheim Palace, several Oxford colleges, and St Paul's Cathedral have all been built using Cotswold stone. 

In market towns like Moreton-in-Marsh and villages like Bourton-on-the-Water, many roadsides and fields are separated by low walls built with Cotswold stone. 

These walls date back to the eighteenth century and directly result from the Enclosure Acts of Parliament. Today, they serve as another beautiful feature of the unique Cotswold countryside and are a testament to the strength and durability of the stone quarried in this part of the world, having stood for more than 200 years. 

Another thing to consider is that not all Cotswold stone is the same colour, which is noteworthy when you pass through different Cotswold villages. 

Although there are some exceptions to this rule, most of the architecture in the northern Cotswolds is made from honey-coloured stone, while those in the centre and south are golden and pearly white, respectively.

This stunning period property in Bourton-on-the-Water is a grade II listed former lodge with an iconic Cotswold stone roof, featuring much of the charm and allure you would expect from a home in this part of the world.


As you’d expect, Harrison, James & Hardie regularly has beautiful Cotswold stone properties for sale. Please take a look at our current listings to view more.

Quarrying & production of Cotswold Stone 

As the name suggests, Cotswold stone is typically quarried in the south Midlands, in an area that is sometimes referred to as the Cotswold Edge. Here, the rock outcrops and several small quarries serve the region.

The limestone composition at Cotswold Edge directly results from natural processes that occurred millions of years ago when a warm sea covered the area. 

Over time, the rock was created layer after layer of shell fragments from the bed of the ocean upwards. As such, it's common to find well-preserved fossils in the stone quarried in the area today.

Several of the quarries in the Cotswolds were established in the Middle Ages and have been responsible for much of the architecture in the area of outstanding natural beauty that serves the Cotswolds so well today.

Preservation and conservation of Cotswold Stone

As Cotswold stone is a type of limestone, it is subject to decay over time due to its alkaline properties. Several things can affect Cotswold stone, including acid rain and general pollution. 

In particular, acid rain and other pollutants can cause a black stain on the exterior of the stonework, which can be noticeable on some older properties, as well as those that have been poorly maintained over the years. 

In the early days, builders applied a limewash coating to protect the Cotswold stone used on properties, particularly on the underside of roof eaves. It was widely seen as an effective way of protecting the stone from decay.

Some homeowners are once again turning to limewash to protect their properties after the technique was seemingly abandoned sometime after the First World War. 

Today, the conservation of Cotswold stone is of the utmost importance to preserving the myriad villages that make up this part of the world. After all, the honey-infused exteriors of the properties that line the country lanes throughout the Cotswolds are as integral to the area's natural beauty as the rolling green hills. 

If you decide to invest in a Cotswold stone property, you're not just buying a beautiful home but a slice of English architectural history that will undoubtedly be preserved for many more generations.


Cotswold stone is a unique building material that has long been used to construct homes in villages throughout the Cotswolds area. Today, you will find stunning, honey-coloured period homes throughout the area that contribute to the charm, allure, and beauty of this quaint part of the south Midlands.

It's little surprise that so many people aspire to buy here!

At Harrison, James & Hardie, we have helped countless families find their forever homes in the Cotswolds. Discover our current selection of properties for sale today to find your dream home in this beautiful part of the world.


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