Cirencester, the Heart of the Cotswolds

Cirencester, the Heart of the Cotswolds

The second largest town in Britain during the Roman era, the historic market town of Cirencester is hailed as the capital of the Cotswolds. 

Lying in the heart of the Cotswolds, the history-rich town of Cirencester wears its heritage on its sleeve. With its roots dating back to the Roman times and beyond, it was once called Corinium Dobunnorum and was one of the most important towns in Britain – second only to London in size. Later, it became a prosperous Medieval wool town and today is home to buildings spanning hundreds of years in age. 

As you wander the streets, it’ll be hard not to appreciate the town’s heritage as you wander past the hotchpotch of centuries-old buildings, pubs (including the 15th Century Black Horse) and townhouses. As well as a 12th Century church (one of the largest parish churches in England) in the town centre, you’ll also see the 12th Century Cirencester Abbey and the remains of a former Roman amphitheatre nearby – a space that once hosted 8,000 spectators.

Dominated by the church, the town’s square is at the heart of the local community. With Cirencester’s market town status first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, it still hosts markets every Monday and Friday with traders setting up a variety of stalls. There’s a farmers’ market held every Saturday morning too – apt as Cirencester was actually the location of the first English-speaking Agricultural College. Head over and peruse the fresh local produce.

To learn more about Cirencester’s history, make sure you visit the Corinium Museum. Brimming with intriguing artefacts, the museum’s collections will lead you on a journey through time, from the prehistoric to the modern day. Featuring great interactive exhibits, all generations can learn about the amazing archaeological finds unearthed around the Cotswolds, including Bronze Age daggers, Roman mosaics and Medieval sculptures. 

Other places of note to visit include Cirencester Park (either for a walk or to watch some Polo) and the Brewery Arts Centre, which is home to resident artists who put on exhibitions, workshops and classes. It’s usually open so you can pop in and see them at work. The Cotswold Sculpture Park is also a superb attraction, proffering the ideal way to view contemporary sculpture in a beautiful outdoor setting.

If you can’t wait for a bit of retail therapy, Cirencester will not disappoint. The main shopping areas revolve around the Market Place, Dyer Street, Cricklade Street, Castle Street and Black Jack Street. Along the way you can expect both high-street favourites and independent boutiques. The Corn Hall area is also full of shops and worth visiting for its designer brands and popular eateries, including the excellent Made By Bob brasserie. 

To treat yourself to more culinary sensations, as you might imagine there are plenty of quality places serving tasty offerings. Some of the best include Tierra & Mar for tapas and the Falcon for expertly crafted British and European cuisine. For the perfect Sunday joint and deli selections, Jesse Smith is the place to go, while Knead is great for fresh baked goods. Finally, for delectable luxury chocolates, pop over to Drizzle Chocolate. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Cotswolds here.

Sign up to receive our boutique stories…

Stay connected with retreat magic and be the first to know about our new additions. We promise to only fill your inbox with the dreamiest staycation stories and luxury travel moments.