Information about Cirencester
Cirencester, in Gloucestershire, is a charming market town in the Cotswolds district and also its largest. It is often referred to as “the capital of the Cotswolds”. During Roman times, when it was called Corinium, Cirencester was the second largest town after London. Its Roman past is documented in the Corinium Museum through an extensive collection of objects, and remnants of the Roman era can be seen throughout the town.
Its market place is dominated by the Church of St John the Baptist, a medieval parish church with an impressive fan vaulting in its large south porch. As many other fine “wool churches” in the area, it was funded by the thriving wool trade in the 13th century. Cirencester is also known as home to the Royal Agricultural University, the first agricultural college in the English-speaking world.
The easiest way to reach Cirencester is by car, as it lies on the intersection of four A roads allowing quick access to the M4 and M5. Kemble, the nearest train station, is six miles away.
Where to stay in Cirencester
Whether you are looking to stay at a hotel, bed and breakfast, guest house or self-catering accommodation, you will be spoilt for choice, not only for the numbers available but also their high standards. Hotels in Cirencester on Victoria Road and London Road are excellent and, for that reason, popular and often fully booked, so make your booking as early as possible. Many of the best bed and breakfast accommodations in Cirencester can also be found on Victoria Road.
Different types of hotel
The boutique Cirencester hotel Kings Head, in the market place, was the first 5 star hotel to open in the town centre in 2015, with 45 stylish bedrooms, five apartments, a subterranean spa and great British cuisine. For other luxury options, you could also consider a hotel in Barnsley, four miles east of town, where Barnsley House, a 17th century manor which once belonged to a horticulturalist, offers creamy delicate interiors and a romantic garden. There are also mid-range price hotels in Cirencester’s town centre, such as the Corinium Hotel, set in a 16th century house, and The Fleece, an old coaching inn.
For lower-budget travellers, bed and breakfasts with distinct character might appeal more. They usually occupy old historical buildings and have beautifully furnished rooms with TV and DVD player, hairdryer, a complimentary tray of drinks and free Wi-Fi, and all serve a hearty English breakfast. The Old Brewhouse and The Ivy House, both in the centre, are highly rated. The Ivy House offers a collection service from Kemble station for guests arriving by train.
Another budget alternative is staying at youth hostels, with basic rooms and a communal kitchen for much lower rates starting at under £30 a night. The New Brewery Arts, a brewery warehouse turned into an arts centre, also operates as a YHA hostel and would be perfect for guests also interested in taking one of its craft workshops or courses.
Self-catering cottages are available 10 to 15 minutes south of Cirencester, sleeping up to four people, and provide economical accommodation in fully equipped home settings, with rates set per week or a minimum stay of three nights. Before booking, check if there are pubs nearby that serve food, in case you prefer to eat out.
For visitors looking for camping and caravanning experience, there are a few sites around the town centre in beautiful settings and with very clean, modern facilities. Some sites, such as the Cirencester Park Caravan Club Site in Stroud Road, offer half-price discounts for midweek stays.
What to do during your stay in Cirencester
Exploring Cirencester, you will want to start by delving into its Roman past at the Corinium Museum, with an amazing collection of Roman mosaics among other historical treasures, and the Roman amphitheatre, which was built at the beginning of the 2nd century to accommodate 8,000 spectators. Behind the church, the Abbey Grounds, once home to an Augustinian monastery demolished in 1539, is a nice place for a break or a picnic, as it has impressive trees, a lake populated with wildfowl and sections of an ancient Roman wall. Another pleasant place for a stroll is the Cirencester Park, not far from the centre of town. It is a Grade II-listed country house and home to the Bathurst family, the Earls Bathurst, in the grounds of a tranquil park and gardens. Situated a couple of miles from the park, the Cirencester Polo Club welcomes the public to its sporting events during the summer.
Art and craft lovers mustn’t miss a visit to the New Brewery Arts in the town centre, which contains a contemporary art gallery, a craft shop, a café and “maker’s studios”, where you can meet craft-makers working with paints, glass, ceramics, upholstery, textile, jewellery, even books.
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