"The Capital of the Cotswolds" Top 5 Page for this destination Cirencester by illumina

Cirencester Travel Guide: 36 reviews and 110 photos

A historic market town

Cirencester began as a Roman fort, with a civil settlement nearby settled by the local Dubunni. When the fort was closed cAD70, this settlement persisted and evolved into a large and important town called Corinium Dobunnorum. In fact it became the second largest town in England at that time after London, with a forum, amphitheatre and protecting stone wall. It was probably made the capital of Britannia Prima, one of the four or five provinces in existence in Britain in the fourth century. However when the Roman army pulled out of Britain, town life declined, and while there was Saxon settlement here it was not on the same scale.

However, in the 12th century, an Abbey was founded at Cirencester by Henry I, to which the manor was granted; a hospital was also built near to the Abbey, and the town gradually became great again, mainly through the wool-trade.

The most striking feature of Cirencester's Market Place is the magnificent parish church, one of the largest in the country. It is one of the great 'wool' churches of the Cotswolds, so called because it was built from the prosperity based on the wool trade.

Nothing remains now of the Abbey, closed at the Dissolution in 1539, apart from its layout marked out in the Abbey Grounds Park.

The Hospital of St John the Evangelist is still partially standing, but as you can see from the photo you are prevented from entering, due to the possibility of falling masonry.

Gladiators ground

The Amphitheatre remains, covered with earth and grass. Beneath the turf are the remains of the stone seats where once the people of Corinium watched wrestling, cockfighting, bear-baiting, and maybe even, on special occasions, gladiator fights.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lovely situation, plenty of history.
  • Cons:Not much to do
  • Last visit to Cirencester: Oct 2006
  • Intro Updated Dec 13, 2008
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Reviews (11)

Comments (4)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Nice page! The Church looks interesting, and what a funny looking sculpture you found, certainly different! I wonder if there is a story behind it?

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    May 8, 2006 at 1:18 PM

    a most impressive looking church. We'll pass on the night life, tho.

  • hekate's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2006 at 5:44 AM

    Thanks for your comment on my homepage :) Seems like you have interesting pages as well :)

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2006 at 3:20 AM

    Illumina by name, illuminating by nature. Looking forward to more of your pages in future.

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