Exploring Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Cirencester is located 80 miles west of London and is often referred to as the capital of the Cotswolds as it lies in the heart of this beautiful part of England.  It was our first visit to this prosperous market town and after finding somewhere to park on the edge of the town, we were soon ready to explore this attractive Cotswold town.

Dyer Street, Cirencester
Dyer Street, Cirencester

The streets are lined with beautiful Cotswold stone buildings casting a golden glow as we wandered along.  Soon we had arrived at the market square which we found to be a hive of activity even in these pandemic times.

Cirencester Parish Church in the market place
Cirencester Market Place

By chance we had arrived on a market day which takes place each Monday and Friday.  Stalls were set out across the square and we enjoyed browsing the many stalls offering a range of fresh produce, household goods and street food.

Friday market, Cirencester beside parish church
The market square with the parish church behind

Providing a wonderful backdrop to the market is the cathedral like Parish Church of St. John the Baptist which was funded by wool merchants with their crests adorning the pillars.

The Fleece Hotel, Cirencester
The Fleece Hotel, Cirencester

Surrounding the square are some beautiful timber framed buildings including that of the Fleece Hotel.  The Fleece was a former coaching inn where in 1651 it is believed that Charles II spent a night on his escape from England after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester.

Bingham House & Gallery Cirencester
Bingham House and Gallery

Another handsome building in the market place is the Bingham House & Gallery which contains art and photographs showcasing Cirencester through the ages.

Wool Market, Cirencester
The Wool Market, Cirencester

Our walk then took us from the market on Dyer Street along to Sheep and Castle Streets where we found numerous independent retailers as well as many of the high street names.  Cirencester is a very pleasant town for shopping and unlike many places up and down the country doesn’t seem to have too many empty shops.

CIrencester town centre
Narrow streets add to the town’s charm

We came across a large statue depicting a hare and a horse and at first were slightly puzzled about its significance but later discovered that hares have held a special place in the town’s history since Roman times.  Back in 1971 a Roman hare mosaic was unearthed and this is now on display in the town’s Corinium Museum.

Hare & Horse sculpture, Cirencester
The sculpture of a hare and a horse in the town centre

Corinium is the Roman name for Cirencester and it was the second largest town outside London and the major Roman administrative centre in the south west.  The Corinium Museum contains one of the most extensive collections of Roman artefacts in the country.

Corinium Museum, Cirencester
The Corinium Museum

Continuing our stroll, we found lots of interesting small shops and cafes tucked away down narrow passageways and in attractive courtyards off the main shopping streets.  I liked both the small Wool Market and Bishop’s Walk shopping areas with quaint shopfronts and outdoor cafes making it look so pretty.

The Wool Market, Cirencester
The Wool Market, Cirencester

Our walk then moved on to the New Brewery Arts Centre, a converted Victorian brewery and now an arts and crafts centre with galleries and studios where visitors can watch crafts people in action, along with a shop and cafe.

The New Brewery Arts Centre, Cirencester
The New Brewery Arts Centre, Cirencester

We passed the main entrance gate to Cirencester Park but did not have time to visit.  Owned by the Earl & Countess of Bathurst visitors are able to enjoy walking or horse riding through the park which is said to be one of the most beautiful privately owned parks in the country and a regular venue for polo matches.

Entrance gates to Cirencester Park
Entrance gates to Cirencester Park

Our tour of Cirencester ended with a walk through the Abbey Gardens, the site of the Augustinian Abbey of St. Mary which grew rich in medieval times through the wool trade.

Cirencester parish church from the Abbey Gardens
Cirencester parish church from the Abbey Gardens

At one corner of the gardens we were able to take a look at a small portion of the ancient Roman wall and then take a relaxing walk along the lake side on the edge of the park before returning to the car.

Roman wall remains in Cirencester
Roman wall remains in the Abbey Gardens

We’d spent an enjoyable few hours in Cirencester and I would recommend visiting if you are in the area as it remains unspoilt being slightly off the usual tourist trail.

Along the banks of the Churn RIver, Cirencester
Walking along the banks of the Churn River

If you are considering visiting Cirencester it is easily accessible by car from both the M4 and M5 motorways.  However if you plan to visit by train the nearest station is 6 miles away in Kemble.

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41 thoughts on “Exploring Cirencester, Gloucestershire

  1. I spent a long weekend in Cirencester a couple of years ago. Your post has bought back some great memories. I love old mosaics, so the Corinium Museum was a special place to visit. The hotel at which I stayed had an old Roman mosaic below floor level, covered by glass, which made my day. I purchased honey and cheese from the market – both excellent. Wonderful gardens in the area, including the Westonbirt National Aboretum. So missing my visits to the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. I love the old buildings in Cirencester … especially the parish church. And how lucky were you to be there on market day – a market day is always a bonus when visiting a town! And how special to see those Roman walls in Abbey Garden 👍🏻.
    Thanks Marion, I’ve enjoyed my (Saturday) stroll through one of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. bazza12345

    Cirencester is just up the road from where I live, about 20 mins away. You have done it proud in this article and captured its beauty. I often shop here instead of a big city to get a more rural and less crowded feel. The Roman Museum here is actually quite big and has some beautiful and huge mosaic and statues – well worth a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Good Day Marion, it feels like a British weather day here on Maryland’s Eastern shore, cloudy, rain and 10C. Nice to journey through a new city within your eyes. We are waiting for this damn Covid thinggy to end so we can once again cross the big pond. I’m running out of years to do all that remains. Peace and Safety to ye!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s hope it won’t be too many more months before we can all start travelling wherever we want again. I’ve only been to Maryland once and that was 30 years ago when we had a friend living in Laurel. We spent two enjoyable weeks together driving around and exploring the area. Hope the weather has improved now and you are getting some crisp autumnal days.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. ThingsHelenLoves

    Cirencester looks lovely, not sure about that hare statue though! It looks like many of the shops and cafes are independents? I wonder if that’s the secret to keeping the town centre bustling, even in tricky times!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m dying to visit Cotswold, especially after discovering it recently. The buildings in Cirencester appear to be a step back in time, particularly with the distinctive parish towering over much of the heart of town. I’ve been enjoying your posts from the UK– keep them coming!

    Liked by 1 person

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