The yew hedge in Cirencester is supposedly the tallest in the world. It separates the town centre form Cirencester park, its house home to Lord Bathurst and its grounds open to the public for walking, riding and enjoying.
I didn't go inside the ground this time..too cold, too wet, too little time. But it is somewhere I will explore next time I visit, and certainly somewhere you should investigate if you have the chance. A Lord's back garden open to the public, eh? Well worth a visit! :-)
Nothing really remains of the huge and important Medieval abbey of St Mary's.
Except this rather lovely, and very ancient, Norman gatehouse, dating from the 12th century (the 1100s). Around 900 years old.
It is tucked away in a corner of the abbey grounds. How or why it escaped the destruction of Henry Vlll's men in 1539 I do not know, but it did.
Dr Richard Master, physician to the queen, bought it from Queen Elizabeth l and it remained in family ownership right up until 1964, when it was presented to the town.
You can't go inside, but it is a lovely and most evocative place......'what once was', indeed.
Cirencester has a particularly attractive town centre, I think, It seems to have avoided the too-often-seen temptation to pull down its older buildings and replace them with concrete and glass monstrosities. So wandering the streets will show you lots of interesting bits and pieces.
Do look at the rooflines. Modern shop frontages usually give no indication of the building's age, but rooflines do.
I really enjoyed walking round Cirencester (which also has a good range of independent shops, and charity [thrift] shops as well).
Nothing much remains of the huge abbey which once stood here, almost in the town centre. Just a Norman gatehouse, St John's parish church and a few sad bits of masonry placed around the stones marking the outline of the abbey church and walls.
Henry Vlll's men did a very good job of entirely destroying the place.
But the ground remain, and are lovely. Great sweeping expanses of green lawn, with water (fishponds for the abbey originally) and waterbirds and trees. A lovely place to walk (your dogs, your children or just yourself) and, I suspect, very much appreciated by the good citizens of Cirencester.
So Henry did do some good after all, I suppose. :-)
You really can't miss this massive Medieval church, standing on the market square as if it were a cathedral.
It's not a cathedral, but it is remarkably large for a church of its time. although originally dating back to 1115 (built as the parish church to go with the Abbey behind it) what you can see now largely dates from the 1500s.
Do go inside. You will see some superb Medieval architecture (the ?fan? vaulting in particular), the remains of Medieval wall-paintings (we are so used to our English churches being plain, but in fact they were all once brightly-decorated places).
There is even a silver gilt goblet which was given by Anne Boleyn.
Do have a look outside as well.....there is the most enormous flying buttress holding up the tower!
More photos in my travelogue.
This is a very modern museum, with lots of hands-on displays for children (and others!) as well as a good selection of the many wonderful artefacts which made up Roman Cirencester.
Personally, I'd have preferred more artefacts and fewer hands-on and reconstructions, but i know this is not regarded as good practice for modern museums.
You'll see some superb mosaic floors from local villas, lots of beautifully sculpted stone and bronzework, numerous personal items, a display of Roman tombstones and more 9including a tile with the 'magic square' inscription.
There is a smaller Anglo-Saxon area with local finds, and an even smaller Medieval and post-Medieval section.
Well worth a visit, but I personally would have preferred to see far more of the many, many local Roman finds.
Open Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm April to October. 10:00am to 4:00pm November to March
Sundays 2:00pm to 5:00pm April to October. 2:00pm to 4:00pm November to March
Entrance (October 2010) is 4.50GBP for adults.
Cirencester Park is the grounds of the Bathurst Estate, owned by the Earl Bathurst. They are open to the public 8am to 5pm every day, free of charge for walking and horseriding, although those walking dogs should be aware that some of the park is a no-dog area. It's a beautiful place to take a stroll, with views over the town from certain vantage points.
This park contains the site of St Mary's Abbey, which was consecrated in 1176 in the presence of Henry II, remaining until the Dissolution in 1539 when the Abbey was completely demolished. The site of the Abbey is outlined in paving stones. After the dissolution the lands were used to build a large house, Abbey House, which has also subsequently been demolished; but the grounds were purchased by the council for the use of the public. The park includes an artificial lake with wildfowl, a wooded area, and a play-park for children, and is an attractive, relaxing area.
A section of the Roman walls also survives to the north of the lake.
The park is situated behind the church and the Market place, and can be entered from the gate next to the church, or from the car park off Spitalgate Lane/Dollar Street.
The Museum was closed for renovation in 2002, and reopened in 2004 (a year late!), after a £5million tranformation. It proved to be well worth it, as the extended building and new layout enabled them to display many more artefacts and add interactive exhibits. You can trace the history of the town and surrounding area from prehistory right up to the 19th century, with a particularly good Roman collection, which reflects Cirencester's importance during that period.
There's a reason there's a road in Cirencester called Spitalgate Lane. It's because it was the site of the ancient hospital ('spital).
The hospital was founded by Henry I in 1133, (1154-1189), but may well have been refounded and endowed by Henry II (1154-1189), as the surviving arcaded nave dates to this period. It was acquired by Cirencester Abbey during the 13th century.
The countryside surrounding Cirencester is beautiful, and the three mile walk to the Duntisbournes is very rewarding if the weather is fine. The small Saxon/Norman church at Duntisbourne Rouse is a lovely destination, with plenty of ancient features to keep a medievalist happy!
Cirencester's main Anglican church, dedicated to St John the Baptist, stands in the centre of town in the Market Place. It's one of the largest parish churches in England, and one of the area's famous 'wool' churches, built on the wealth of the local wool trade. The original church on the site was probably founded in the 12th century, but little of this early structure remains. The chancel survives from the 13th and 14th centuries, but the main body of the church was rebuild in the 15th and 16th centuries. The celebrated south porch was added in 1490, and provided office space above the door for the town guilds.
There are remnants of medieval wall paintings in St Catherine's Chapel, and a carving of a cat and mouse / rat which may have something to do with the rhyme about Richard III - 'the cat, the rat and Lovell our dog, rule all England under a hog'. The Bolelyn Cup was given to the church by Dr. Richard Master, it having originally been a gift from his patient (and Anne Boleyn's daughter), Queen Elizabeth I.
The church is one of Simon Jenkin's Thousand Best Churches.
Cirencester, or Corinium as it was known in Roman times, was the second most important Roman city in the province of Britannia, second only to Londinium. The amphitheatre, which dates from the 2nd Century, is one of the largest and best preserved amphitheatres in Britain. It is covered by earth and the two curving mounds enclosed a central area for shows and entertainments. It is covered by earth and the two curving mounds enclosed a central area for shows and entertainments. On these mounds planking and dry stone walls would have supported wooden seats for the spectators.
The Roman Museum has lots of artifacts dug up from Roman Villas in the area and there are even some sections of beautiful mosaics.
The museum is a great place to learn about the Roman times in England.
This photo was taken outside the church.
Suffice to say that the church is not a museum but a lively place of daily worship & prayer as well as a centre of the Christian community in Cirencester & the surrounding areas.
We can see anyhow the 'medieval' designs still very much intact on this church.