Bourton-on-the-Water’s most prized feature is its tranquil river. Fed from many springs, its source is approximately ten miles from the village, and even in the 1976 drought the flow continued.
The Windrush meanders through some of Britain’s most charming countryside where unspoiled fields and natural woodland complement the expression of rural England. Where the river enters the village centre, over the rapids next to the Old Mill, its clear waters flow under a miscellany of arched stone bridges past the green with its banks of Cotswold stone.
It then travels down to other villages such as Windrush, Burford and Witney where soon after, the Windrush joins the Thames, for its journey to London and the sea.
Although the date is not recorded, it is believed that the river, which has an average depth of only ten inches as it flows through Bourton, originally passed some 200 yards to the south of its present course, having been diverted to power a new mill many years ago.
On the western edge of the village lies Bourton Bridge built in 1806 and widened in 1959. An inscription on the downstream side reads ‘The Fosseway has passed here since Roman times. Here is Buruhford of Salmonsbury. 8th century AD‘.
In the village centre the earliest stone built bridge is Mill Bridge (also known as Broad Bridge) built in 1654 and crossing where one of the fords existed.
Following downstream the footbridge in the middle of the village green, High Bridge was built in 1756.
Further downstream is New Bridge (also known as Moore Bridge) a vehicle crossing, traversing another ford. It was built in 1911 by local benefactor George Frederick Moore who also built the Victoria Hall and our local Cottage Hospital. Alongside it is Payne Bridge, a foot crossing built in 1756.
Downstream again, the last and most recently erected footbridge opposite the Old New Inn is coronation Bridge, built in 1953 to replace a wooden bridge that had been on this site since the eighteenth century but had collapsed whilst being crossed by some unsuspecting day visitor! The ford located here is still in use today.