After Avebury I could have driven right home but I decided to break the journey with a night in Cirencester. I’ve been here before but had little memory of the place as I was small. I was at the ‘are we nearly there yet?’ stage. We’d been invited to a wedding in a village some where near Swindon and we stopped in Cirencester for a hour or so, so we didn’t arrive too soon or too late. It also gave two small boys time to blow off some steam.

Cirencester, as its name tell you, was a Roman city. It was called Corinium and was the second largest place in the province of Britannia after Londinium/London and while Manchester/Mamucium was just a little fort on the road between Chester and York. Cirencester was very important in those days. London and Manchester turned into huge cities that would have dwarfed Ancient Rome but Cirencester has the same population now that it had in Roman times.

When the Romans left, Cirencester was abandoned and fell into disrepair. It revived in the Middle Ages when it was the centre of the woollen industry. Wool produced on the surrounding Cotswold Hills was in great demand all over Europe and Cirencester became rich again on it. The wealth has never really left the area and today it’s a prosperous, well built, market town and a desirable place to live. 

I stayed at the Corinium Hotel, which I can recommend. It’s on the old Roman road out of the town, the Fosse Way which still runs from Exeter in Devon in, mostly, a straight line to Lincoln. 2,000 years ago Romans would have walked along the street under my bedroom window.

All the Roman buildings have long gone sadly. But, outside the town, near the Waitrose supermarket, is the Roman amphitheatre. I could just make out the embankment from the road but couldn’t get closer to the site which was sad.

I think Cirencester, with its mix of different sized buildings and styles, is what Prince Charles wanted Poundbury to be like. But it’s taken hundreds of years to make Cirencester. You can’t plan charm into a place of course. Prince Charles does have a country place nearby, Highgrove. And Princess Anne lives out here as well. A lot of town is made of a beautiful, local limestone called Cotswold stone. It’s used a lot in the area.

Some more pictures of Cirencester. I liked it a lot and the house prices were on a par with those in Manchester which was good to see if I felt like a move.

I felt right at home as soon as I stepped out of the hotel.

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