You know the saying ‘all roads lead to Rome’? Well, it turns out during the Roman rule of Britain that all roads led to Corinium, now know as modern day Cirencester, England. Cirencester is a market town on the edge of the Cotswolds, and as an easy bus ride from Cheltenham I decided to make my way there for the day.
My first stop was for a bit of fuel at the waffle house He Says She Waffles. Cirencester is great in that it has a lot of local cafes rather than chains, which I enjoyed as I tucked in to the gooey chocolate of my waffle and coffee, only paying a cool £4.90 for both.
I headed over to New Brewery Arts, an enclave of artist studios where visitors can go watch the makers as they produce their work, and shop their wares. I made a rookie mistake of not checking hours though, and shortly after arriving realized they are closed all day Sunday. Fortunately I could still get a glimpse of the studios through the windows to get an idea of the creative process that happens there.
St John the Baptist parish is one of the largest structures in Cirencester, as it is in the center of the town and rises high enough it can be seen from most vantage points in the core of Cirencester. I peeked into the church which had characteristic fan vaults, and also went behind it to see its cemetery. It felt a little eerie to go for a ‘walk’ in a cemetery, but I was fascinated that the newer graves within dated back to the 1850s!
Despite Cirencester’s population today (just under 20,000) making it a far cry from being a large city in England, back in Roman Britain it was the second largest town after London. It was a popular town due to its wool trade, and also was where roads for London and St. Albans coverged. There’s a few remnants of the Roman start of the town, one of which is the Cirencester Roman Wall. Adjacent to St John the Baptist parish, there is a path that directs you to the wall – I couldn’t believe I was able to go up and touch stones that were laid almost 2000 years old!
Cirencester is not just Roman ruins though – it has the very classic Cotswolds architecture of stone buildings flanked by broad wooden doors. I found a few favorites on Cecily Hill, a picturesque street in town that leads to Cirencester Park.
Cirencester Park is part of the Bathurst Estate, a large estate home and grounds in Cirencester. The estate owns quite a lot of property on the edge of the center of the town, and such, they have opened up part of the land to the public as a park. The park is characterized by two main, straight paths that are perpendicular to each other and are tree-lined on both sides.
I really enjoyed the scenery of the park, and that Cirencester itself was compact enough for solely foot trodden sightseeing.
Have you been to Cirencester? What are your favorite Roman ruins?