Cirencester – capital of the Cotswolds

Cirencester - Cecily Hill
Cirencester – Cecily Hill

As we are located in Broadway in the Cotswolds, we are ideally placed to visit a number of interesting towns. Stratford-upon-Avon is on our doorstep, together with Cheltenham, and other smaller towns such as Worcester and Warwick. However, today we visited Cirencester which is called the capital of the Cotswolds.

Cirencester is about 28 miles away or 45 minutes; it is a nice easy drive and there is plenty of interest both in Cirencester and along the way.

Cirencester’s most well-known attraction is the Corinium Museum which reflects the town’s Roman history; you could add to this aspect by visiting the Chedworth Roman Villa along the way.

The town centre is dominated by the Parish Church which is medieval; I noticed the porch ceiling and apparently it is known for its perpendicular porch. From there, it is worth finding the Visitor Centre which is located in the Corinium Museum and getting a copy of either the Town Trail or the Whereat Trail. We found the Trail leaflets rather belatedly so we just went exploring and by wandering round the back streets, we found some lovely little alleyways. From the Visitor Centre, we asked about the interesting and massive gateway opposite with a very high hedge behind and were told it was the gateway to Cirencester Park. We’ve since discovered the hedge is the tallest yew hedge in the world.

Cirencester Park
Cirencester Park

The lady at the Visitor Centre advised us to walk round the corner from the gateway up to Cecily Hill to gain access to the park itself, so off we went. As you walk up Cecily Hill, there is a mini castle! Known as Cecily Hill Castle, it looks medieval but was actually built in Victorian times as a barracks. It makes a suitably impressive entrance to Cirencester Park.

The Park has an impressive set of gates and some lovely houses opposite the ‘castle’ and a footpath stretching into the distance. The footpath is called The Broad Avenue and runs a total of 5 miles. When planted, the trees lining the Avenue on each side were chosen for seasonal colour by Lord Bathurst, the owner of the estate, and his friend Alexander Pope, a leading figure in gardening and architecture circles of the time. Today, the vista was what caught the attention with the pathway drawing us along, and we plan to go back in the Spring for the seasonal colour.

Heading back to the ‘castle’, we went round another corner and found an interesting little river walk. The water was as clear as could be and we found an open-air swimming pool. Not open today but apparently it opens from May to September, when it is heated – having a swim in the fresh air sounds a great way to spend a Summer’s afternoon. From there, we wandered on towards Dollar Street and headed back towards the town centre via Black Jack Street.

Cirencester - church
Cirencester – church

The shops in the town centre are mainly independents which give them lots of character, with only a few of the chains visible. We found a lovely coffee shop called Cotswolds Artisan Coffee on Bishops Walk – from the church head down the road opposite called Cricklade Street – serving quality coffee and tea with a selection of delicious sounding soups, paninis and cakes. ‘Delicious sounding’ simply because we couldn’t sample them all this time round but next time …

After an interesting hour or two exploring the shops, it was time to head back to Broadway. Leaving Cirencester, the A429 takes you most of the way with excellent views of the Cotswolds countryside. The road takes you up to Stow-on-the-Wold first of all and then you branch off left sign posted for Evesham, and the road takes you straight to Broadway.

A great day out from Broadway.

Author: Apple Tree House Bed and Breakfast, Broadway, Cotswolds – www.appletreebroadway.co.uk

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