Everything Taylor Swift needs to know about the Cotswolds

For all the columns, radio hours, and social media whining devoted to Taylor Swift, the woman herself remains something of an empty space.

She’s the biggest star in music, a self-made 34-year-old billionaire, currently on the European leg of a stadium tour that has broken more records than a rogue elephant in HMV.

Nevertheless, what we know of her inner life is largely projection.

No one could blame the woman who named her most recent album The department of tortured poets of using a switchblade when a sledgehammer was available.

She enjoys a glass of rosé with her friends, short walks in the countryside, and antique shopping.

Swift with her ex-boyfriend Tom Hiddleston in Suffolk, 2016

Previous country references: Swift with her ex-boyfriend Tom Hiddleston in Suffolk, 2016 – Ben/Jesal/GoffPhotos.com

Given all this, it’s a surprise that Swift didn’t discover the Cotswolds sooner. As her all-conquering caravan prepares to roll into Britain, the singer has reportedly rented a £3 million home in the heart of Chipping Norton where she can be alone with her boyfriend, American football player, Travis Kelce.

If that’s true, this move makes perfect sense: the town of Oxfordshire is the closest Britain has come to a Marie Antoinette celebrity village, a place where you can enjoy a sanitized version of the English countryside less than 90 minutes by Range Rover from the city.

As Anglophile as Swift is, she may still need a helping hand to make the most of her new digs. Although it looks serene, the Cotswolds are a seething viper’s nest of class, status and money, old versus new, requiring Swift’s diplomatic skills to negotiate.

The fashion

Where the Cotswolds once consisted of moth-eaten tweed and cartridge bags, there has been a distinct injection of glamor in recent years. There are three broad groups: old Cotswold types, new Cotswold types and even newer Cotswold types.

They thunder down the M4, dressed in eye-catching labels: Gucci hats and logo socks for walking the dog, Marfa Stance puffer jackets when it’s cold, and Phoebe Philo dresses for the endless lunches. Swift’s past statements and personal style suggest that she will place herself in the middle of this spectrum.

Cotswold resident Alexa ChungCotswold resident Alexa Chung

Fashion expert and Cotswold resident Alexa Chung – Getty

She could do worse than model herself on Alexa Chung, onetime Cotswold resident and the original leggy millennial. Think boots, shorts and a Barbour. Of course, no brand is a single brand anymore: they huddle together like ducks in the freezing cold. They will be Ganni x Barbour, Stella McCartney x Hunter. Can we unequivocally rule out that Tay-Tay is seen in a Schoffel waistcoat? We can not.

The rulers

Not a conker falls from a branch in these parts without Lord and Lady Bamford knowing about it, let alone one of the most famous people in the world moving in. Thanks to his stewardship of the family business, JCB, Anthony Bamford was already one of the most famous people in the world. Britain’s richest men. But his wife, the formidable Lady B – only the brave call her Carole – has driven the area’s transformation into a lifestyle Shangri-La.

Daylesford, its shop-restaurant-spa, near Kingham, which draws Teslas, Porsches and Range Rovers like buffalos to a watering hole. Inside, visitors feast on hedgehog-sized sausage rolls and buy shockingly expensive chickens to roast in their Agas. It was to a cottage owned by Bamford where Boris Johnson fled with his young family when he resigned over Partygate. We may never know the details, but it would be very surprising if their fragrant handprints weren’t somewhere on Swift’s move.


Daylesford: where the upper crust buys its vegetables and expensive chickens – Alamy

The celebrities

The ‘Chipping Norton set’ will forever be associated with David Cameron’s government in 2010. Cameron was always ambitious, but he has now achieved a title beyond even his wildest dreams: not just MP for Witney, not just Prime Minister, but Lord Cameron of Norton chipped. If Swift wants to pay her respects, she would do well to track him down. In the absence of the big man, the singer may have to make do with other local talent: Rebekah Brooks, Matthew Freud, the Beckhams, Jamie Dornan and his wife Amelia.

Jeremy Clarkson and Caleb CooperJeremy Clarkson and Caleb Cooper

Jeremy Clarkson, Kaleb Cooper… and two pigs – Prime Video

If she fancies musical company, there’s Ellie Gouldling, Max Richter and Blur bassist Alex James, who also makes cheese and a “Britpop” sparkling wine. If that’s not enough in the way of local produce, Swift could visit popular local farmer Jeremy Clarkson. If things don’t work out with Kelce, Swift might look for Clarkson’s charming assistant, Kaleb Cooper, a blond Englishman in the mold of Swift’s actor ex, Joe Alwyn.


Did you think the countryside was for everyone? Think again. The area around Chipping Norton has become a Pall Mall in boots, full of private members’ clubs. Soho Farmhouse, Nick Jones’s ersatz farm hotel in Great Tew, was the first to offer Londoners the chance to drive two hours into the countryside to wait an hour for a burger. Meghan Markle had her chicken done there. Recently it has faced new competition in the form of Estelle Manor, ten miles south, the rural outpost of Maison Estelle, a private club for Mayfair members.

Estelle Manor is a rural outpost of a private Mayfair members clubEstelle Manor is a rural outpost of a private Mayfair members club

Estelle Manor is a rural outpost of a private club from Mayfair: Estelle Manor

Then there’s The Club by Bamford, Carole Bamford’s health club, where members pay £3,500 a year (plus membership fees) for access to a swanky gym. In the video for her recent single ‘Fortnight’, Swift is seen playing pickleball: The Club by Bamford has courts for pickleball’s European cousin, padel. Luckily, there’s no charge for the most insufferable club of them all: wild swimming.

Carole Bamford's Health Club: Carole Bamford's Health Club:

Carole Bamford’s health club: ‘Where members pay £3,500 a year (plus membership fee) for access to a swanky gym,’ explains Cumming – Estelle Manor


We know Swift loves a pub. The Black Dog, in Vauxhall, has been harassed by Swifties since she used the name as the title of a song on her latest album. Her new home is rich with options, but there are factions. Take the charming village of Charlbury, just outside Chipping Norton: where The Bell, a 17th-century foodie pub owned by the Bamfords, is just yards away from The Bull, a 16th-century foodie pub owned by the Public House Group , which also has The Pelican in Notting Hill.

Is Swift more Bell or Bull? She will have to choose a side. The Bamfords also own The Fox in Oddington and The Wild Rabbit in Kingham. For a slightly more traditional experience, she could try The Checkers, a medieval pub in the heart of Chipping Norton.

bull cafebull cafe

The Bull pub in Charlbury


If Swift doesn’t already have a penchant for crystals, gongs, flowy tea dresses and cashmere scarves, she would do well to develop a taste for them. You can barely move without being presented with an expensive piece of quartz. Without an interest in cashmere, or at least linen, she may find local shopping options limited.

Maybe Swift will visit Jesse Smith's, the butcher in CirencesterMaybe Swift will visit Jesse Smith's, the butcher in Cirencester

Perhaps Swift will visit Jesse Smith’s, the butcher in Cirencester, writes Cumming – Alamy

To satisfy her interest in antiques, she can go to Stow-on-the-World, where old people mainly buy and sell old furniture and trinkets. For shopping she will of course go to the Waitrose in Chipping Norton, perhaps combined with a trip to Jesse Smith’s, the butcher in Cirencester. Wherever she goes, she’ll have to brush up on favorite local talk: planning permission, celebrities and how the influx of people from London is clogging the roads.


If Swift really wants to join the Cotswolds set, she should start a lifestyle brand, ideally something to do with ‘hosting’. What it may lack in profitability, this company will more than make up for in the potential for smug Instagram posts showing dinner parties.

Novelist Plum Sykes, who lives in the Cotswolds, has set her latest book in the middle of rolling greenery. “I realized that an intriguing new breed of female had emerged: the Country Princess,” Sykes wrote in Tatler. “She was rich, she was glamorous, she was funny, she lived (almost exclusively) in the Cotswolds and she had a lifestyle to die for.”

It’s almost as if she had a premonition of Swift’s impending arrival. Sykes added: “I heard one rich man say to another, ‘You’re not really rich unless you’re losing ten thousand dollars a week financing a business your wife set up where she sets tables all day.’ ”

Losing money doesn’t come naturally to Taylor Swift; but that’s the price of fitting.

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