We live in England’s ‘prettiest village’ where hordes of tourists peek out of windows and picnic in our gardens

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RESIDENTS of England’s ‘prettiest village’ say hordes of tourists peek out of their windows and picnic in their gardens.

Thousands of visitors, determined to take a selfie, descend daily on the row of 800-year-old two-bed cottages, many of which are unaware they are actually inhabited.

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Bibury in Gloucestershire has been described as England’s ‘prettiest village’1 credit
A newly married couple pose for photos outside the row of cottages

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A newly married couple pose for photos outside the row of cottages1 credit
Clare Perrin in front of her cottage in the Cotswolds village

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Clare Perrin in front of her cottage in the Cotswolds village1 credit
Tourists from all over the world flock to the village all year round

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Tourists from all over the world flock to the village all year round1 credit
Due to the number of visitors, parking is an issue for locals

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Due to the number of visitors, parking is an issue for locals1 credit

Those who live there hear tourists asking among themselves, “do hobbits live here” and some even try to enter thinking they are in a museum.

Hotel manager Clare Perrin, 60, who has lived in one of the cottages for five years, said: ‘It’s a beautiful place and they are amazing homes where you feel like be part of the story.

“But there are now more tourists than ever because photos have spread so quickly around the world these days and that brings its challenges.

“There’s constant knocking and doorbell ringing because people don’t think they’re real homes.”

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Arlington Row in Bibury, Gloucestershire, built as a wool store for monks in 1380, has long fascinated visitors.

19th century artist William Morris described it as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ and Japanese Emperor Hirohito was so impressed with it on his honeymoon that he took paintings home and praised it to his people.

For years the image of the jewel of the Cotswolds was a watermark on the inside cover of a British passport.

Now, in the age of satnavs and Instagram, the place has started to feel overrun.

Clare added: ‘So many people put Arlington Row in their sat nav and then are brought to this tourist-filled cul-de-sac where it’s incredibly difficult to turn.

“Some leave their cars to take pictures and no one can get in or out. Some residents are very elderly and we’ve recently needed ambulances that need to be able to turn around. It’s incredibly dangerous.”

Visitors are expected to park in the village of Bibury, not an easy task, then access the cottages via a pretty footbridge over the River Coln, a fast-flowing stream filled with dozens of ducks and of swans.

Signs warn visitors that the cottages are homes for real people, but many people can’t read English or are just too excited to notice.

Jill, 77, who lives in one of the cottages with her husband Brian, said: ‘Sometimes it’s hard to hear English being spoken in the street outside our house and it can be very chaotic.

PICNIC IN THE POPULAR GARDENS

“A neighbor had ladies sitting in her garden having lunch. They just assume that everything is open to them and they go where they please.

“All private homes have electric gates and we had to strategically plant shrubs near our back door to keep people out.

“People look at windows, knock on doors, ring bells. We have to keep the door locked otherwise they would come in.

“Even some who could read the reviews don’t. We’ve heard Americans outside say, “These must be hobbit houses,” and sometimes we open the window and say, “No, we live here.”

“At other times we heard people asking what time the tide was coming in and an Indian couple gave us their contact details and offered to take us tiger hunting if we could get there.”

Covid brought a unique break in the constant tourist cycle, but now they’re back in full force with more visitors than ever.

“Before Covid, we had six 60-seater coaches arriving every day,” said Brian, 80, a retired shipping agent. “It was like a cruise ship was coming.

“This year there have been many more minibuses and smaller vehicles, but more people. It became amazing.

PARKING PROBLEMS

“The whole world is knocking on our door every day and the village is really struggling to cope. There is only parking next to the trout farm, so we have abandoned cars on our only rotation space.

During The Sun Online’s visit to Arlington Row, a wedding party drove up to take photos outside the famous cottages.

A resident appeared to tell them it was just a private car park, but the bride’s sister confidently assured him that she had been given the all-clear.

Soon they were trying to get dozens of tourists moving as the happy couple were pictured kissing in a Fiat 500.

Residents have their own small private parking lot, but negotiating a way through the daily crowds can be a challenge.

Jill, a retired teacher, added: ‘There is very little parking enforcement and it can become a problem when so many people follow their GPS and come here.

“The National Trust describes us as ‘open all hours’ and that’s how it feels. Typically, at 8:30 a.m. there will be a group of Americans or other nationalities outside to take pictures. Curtains are essential.

VISITORS THINK THE VILLAGE IS A “MUSEUM”

Rose Francome-Robinson, 78, who has lived in one of the cottages for 30 years, said: ‘They think it’s a museum. It just doesn’t tell a lot of people that these are houses where real people live.

“I always have the door locked. If you don’t, you’ll have the odd person wandering around.

“Thirty years ago it wasn’t nearly as busy. You would still have a lot of Japanese tourists, but now it’s people from all over.

“Parking is a terrible problem because people can be rude and aggressive when you tell them they can’t park here. Exits are blocked and ambulances can’t get off.

“I think the numbers have tired the village.”

Bibury has only 600 inhabitants. Almost all the properties are priced over £1million, but Arlington Row’s famous collection is all owned by the National Trust, which selects tenants to live there.

Teri Garfitt, a university professor, said: “I moved in a year ago. I had to fill out a form and be screened in, then you had to speak to the rental agent.

“I was told there were at least 20 applicants, but they only kept the process open for two days.

“I think I got it because I told them it was good to be the guardian of that part of history.”

Now Teri has had her first summer in the goldfish bowl.

She said, “It’s just busy all the time. Only a snowdrift would keep people away. The only problem I have is with the litter box.

“I pick up a few bags of litter every morning, including things like diapers. It’s very thoughtless especially when there are trash cans.

As if Arlington Row wasn’t famous enough, there are still celebrities who show up to remind everyone of their existence.

Jill added: “We brought Penelope Keith here to film her ‘secret village’ series but we don’t feel like we’re a secret.”

Most tourists said they were inspired by photos on Instagram or vloggers on YouTube.

“You just saw its unique beauty and you want to visit,” said Watsamon Sangsivarit, visiting from Thailand with his cousin Natsuda and parents Mantona and Wiroj. “I heard about it on Instagram. It’s all over social media.”

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And the famous row is about to get even more exposed.

Earlier in the summer, at 6am, a crew arrived from Strictly Come Dancing to film a sequence.

It's easy to see why so many people visit the quaint village

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It’s easy to see why so many people visit the quaint village1 credit
Doors should be securely locked to prevent people from entering

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Doors should be securely locked to prevent people from entering1 credit
Tourists do not hesitate to look through people's windows

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Tourists do not hesitate to look through people’s windows1 credit
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