The Recursive Model Villages of Bourton-on-the-Water

Apr 15, 2015 2 comments

Bourton-on-the-Water is a village and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England that lies on a wide flat vale within the “Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” The village is known for its picturesque High Street, flanked by long wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. The river is crossed by several low, arched stone bridges that have led to Bourton-on-the-Water being called the "Venice of the Cotswolds". The village has a population of about 3,200, but during peak times of the tourist season there are more visitors in Bourton-on-the-Water than residents.

Bourton-on-the-Water’s most famous attraction is the one-ninth scale replica of the village itself. Built in the 1930s and opened in 1937, the replica accurately reflects the village as it appeared in 1936 and was constructed using authentic materials - locally-quarried limestone for walls, and miniature Cotswold stone slates for roof coverings. The replica model was built to the last detail including traceried windows of the churches, the dry-stone boundary walls and the vernacular details of the buildings. For trees the craftsmen used miniature bonsai type trees which are carefully pruned to keep them to scale.


Bourton-on-the-Water Model Village. Photo credit

Because the model village sits in the village it's modeling, it contains a model village of it’s own. Zoom into the "model model village" and you will find a "model model model village" at the back. Look closer into the "model model model village" to find yet another "model model model model village".

The idea for the model village was conceived by Mr. C. A. Morris, owner of the Old New Inn, at the back of which the miniature model is located. Together with his wife, Mr. Morris set about precisely measuring the village, and began construction in 1936 with the help of local craftsmen. The village was opened to the public for the first time on 13 May 1937, in celebration of the Coronation of King George VI. The model was completed in 1940.

The model has remained almost unaltered since its completion, though the Morris family, who remained at the Old New Inn until 1999, and the subsequent owners, have sought to keep the model village as relevant to visitors as possible, regularly updating the shop signs and windows as the full-size buildings on which they were modeled undergo changes.


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Level 2: Model of the model village within the model village. Photo credit


Level 3: Model of the model of the model village within the model village. Photo credit


Level 4: Model of the model of the model of the model village within the model village. Photo credit


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Level 2 model village. Level 3 model can be seen in the upper left. Photo credit


Level 3 model village inside the level 2 model. Photo credit

Sources: The Model Village / Historic England / Wikipedia via Reddit


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