Summer in Cirencester
- Credit: Archant
From water zorbing to hare-spotting, Lynn Ede looks forward to a full diary of events in and around Cirencester
Whether your interest is historic, sporty, shopping, or just getting out and about, hold onto your hats for there is a busy summer about to happen around Cirencester.
The site of a Roman fort and linked to the Fosse Way around AD 47, it was named Corinium Dobunnorum (Dubonnii being the local tribe). Said to be the largest Roman town after London, it is still reported to be the largest, at least, in the Cotswolds. Among its historic industries are wool, farm tools, bacon and flour. There is some excellent history to be read at Cirencester.gov.uk
You can park in the centre of the town, around which are many independent and High Street shops, hotels and restaurants. The Golden Cross Inn is celebrating six years in operation, and has summer events planned in the garden, such as acoustic evenings and artisan pizzas. The King’s Head offers jazz nights, but also working lunches and spa treatments, so persuade the boss to extend your lunch hour. If you are the boss, contemplate your empire’s standing while having your feet pampered. We need to rethink the office space, I feel, and it starts in Cirencester.
Standing proud in the market square is the 12th century Church of St John the Baptist. Its Gothic architecture is a splendid sight, and with a huff and a puff you can climb to the top of the 162’ tower to observe the view if you take one of the tours on offer.
With the church standing immediately behind you, stroll to the right, right and left again into Park street and you discover a charming café society vicinity. Definitely a stop to make in between the shopping. It is also where you can learn more about the town’s Roman history at the Corinium Museum. The Visitor Information Centre has details of Cirencester Guided Walks, rambles and bands in the park. Catch an afternoon talk on June 15 on hidden Roman hoards and burial goods. Wine tasting on June 19 and an evening lecture on Roman Food on June 25 should also be marked in the diary.
Feeling arty? Pop into New Brewery Arts; a café, courses and workshops await you. In June, you can craft some garden glass, work some willow pieces, make a collage or get into textural printing. The choice is yours. For viewing and purchasing art, discover the Wetpaint Gallery in London Road.
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Running from June 3 to July 4 is the Midsummer Hare Art Extravaganza. Partnered with Cirencester College, it promises to display hare-themed art of all sorts, incorporating music and drama. It’ll be a game of ‘spot the hare’ around the town. Be there or be square.
Bingham Hall in King Street plays host to many events. You can join clubs of kickboxing, Scottish country dancing, rifle and chess; you can join the Red Cross there and also do your bit by giving blood. The Cotswold Auction Company has three sales going on in June, where you could bid for militaria, jewellery and collectibles. Just don’t scratch your nose.
Have baby, will travel. Or at least get out and see a film. On June 19 the Corinium Cinema is putting on ‘Box Office Babies’, where you can watch the latest films whilst feeding your baby and not cringeing amidst others’ usual “Shhhhh!” sounds and ghastly glances as your little ones express their delight in full voice. What a great idea.
Fancy a bucket and spade day without the drive to the coast? Take the family along to Shorncote, just south of Cirencester, where you will find Lake No. 32 and the Cotswold Country Park and Beach. Lifeguarded at weekends and school holidays, you can all have an open water swim, row on a boat, play in the park and the family fight in who can build the best sandcastle. My Dad always won, with elaborate moats, turrets and miniature lakes he built for us. Ah, memories. Later, as a mother of three boys, I quickly fell behind as they overtook any sand skills I may have had. I may just secretly pop down to the beach for further practise. It’s never too late.
Also, have you ever fancied climbing into one of those clear, blow-up balls and hoofing yourself magically over the surface of a lake? I know I have. Whether I’d live to tell the tale is another matter, but it looks huge fun. Well, they are called ‘water zorbs’ and they have those there too. Check it out at CotswoldCountryPark.co.uk
At South Cerney, just a couple of miles south of the town, you can observe the stunning wildlife which resides at the lakes. Golf is within reach, too, at several clubs thereabouts.
At Lakeside Ski & Wake in South Cerney, if you are into birdwatching and itching to twitch, this is the place for you. In addition, you can learn to water ski, bob along on an inflatable ride and afterwards enjoy a meal at its Brasserie which has a relaxing terrace for a spot of alfresco munchies overlooking one of the 147 stunning lakes in the Cotswolds. It is here that I meet a charming French gent who is on a break and renting one of the many luxurious holiday homes around the lakes. I mean, who in their right mind will pass up the opportunity of interviewing a Frenchman? It is also a rare chance for me to use my French language, and why not, though his English was excellent.
“I love the UK and particularly the Cotswolds,” Guillaume Béguin told me in an accent which makes it tricky to concentrate, “there are so many cute little villages around with good pubs with fireplaces – and everyone is so friendly. A visit here from busy Paris makes me… less stressed and refreshed.”
Monsieur Béguin, a photographer originally from Versailles, was taking a stroll around the lake with his camera, and is here on a trip accompanying his eventer girlfriend. Talking of which, the Cirencester Park Polo Club has been running since 1894 and is a great place to watch the action from an elegant distance with champagne glass in hand, together with amuse bouches. Simply smile serenely whilst muddying up your Manolo heels in some divot stomping. Grit your teeth and pack some wet wipes. No complaining.
So, I’ve bred lots of ideas here for you to do in the heart of the Cotswolds that is Cirencester. Enjoy the town, its countryside pursuits and surroundings, go shop, tour and splash in the waters. Be mad as a (June) hare!