"With its gentle hills and timeless villages, the Cotswold countryside is a vision of rural calm, but the region's history reveals a darker picture. Over the centuries, people in the Cotswolds have known prosperity, but they have also experienced war, poverty, and despair. Lying between the provinces and the capital, the region has been home to kings and aristocrats, and has played a dramatic role in the story of Britain. Everywhere in the Cotswolds are reminders of the past: prehistoric monuments, ruined Roman villas, and Tudor mansions. Wealthy medieval wool merchants paid for fine churches and manor houses. Later, the landscape was scarred by the English Civil War, while evidence of an industrial past can be seen in the mills and factories of the south-west. After the wool trade reached its peak in the fifteenth century, the fortunes of the Cotswolds suffered a slow decline. By the 1890s poverty was widespread and villages were sinking into picturesque decay. It was around this time that William Morris and his followers discovered the area and established thriving centers for Arts and Crafts. In the following century writers and artists moved to the Cotswolds and tourism gathered pace. Today, the region continues to attract visitors, as well as country-weekenders and celebrities. Observing such changes, and describing the landscape, has been a lively company of writers, artists, and musicians. Some belong to a particular place, while others have viewed the region as outsiders. In their writings, art, and music, they have all celebrated the distinctive character of the Cotswolds"--Provided by publisher.