The principal feature of the landscape of Withington and the seat of most of its settlement is a broad valley running from north to south. Down its east side the river Coln follows a meandering course and on its western slopes a series of springs rise and flow to join the Coln. The long ridge on the west side of the valley, incorporating Foxcote hill, Withington hill, where the parish reaches its highest point (289 m.), and Shill hill, presumably provided the last part of the parish's name in the early Middle Ages, when it is usually recorded in forms such as 'Widindun' or 'Wythyndon.
The site of a Roman villa lies to the south of the village. Remains of the villa were rediscovered in 1811 by Samuel Lysons, and investigations by the Time Team television programme for an episode first broadcast in 2006 found further Romano-British buildings east of the villa, towards the river.
The origin of the name is unclear but it is found in records as early as 737 AD (Wudiandun, which would mean the hill of Wudia: Wudia may be a real settler or the legendary Germanic hero Witege). The other English places called Withington may have different origins. In his 1955 work, H. P. R. Finberg argued for continuity between Anglo-Saxon Withington and an earlier Roman settlement. During Saxon times there was an important monastery at Withington.
The parish church of St Michael and All Angels dates from the 12th century and is a Grade I listed building. The church was altered in the 15th century when the Perpendicular clerestory and higher tower were added, and has been described as "a typical example of an important Cotswold church".
The 2000 Trees music festival is held annually at Upcote Farm, near the village.