We were looking forward to exploring Cirencester and as soon as I mentioned on Instagram we were heading there people gave me all sorts of tips on places to go, restaurants to eat in and what to do. Not too far from us I am surprised we hadn’t been there before to be honest, and I really hope we get the chance to go back. In fact I might have even said “I can see us moving here”, but then I said that about Guernsey, Bridgetown, various villages in Cheshire and anywhere in the New Forest. The second of our trips to a town ending in -cester and a definite favourite
The parish church of St John the Baptist in Cirencester has cathedral sized proportions, and is certainly more imposing than any local parish church we have been in recently, and more welcoming too. We almost stumbled upon it having wandered up to the market and found it to the edge of the town square. We wandered in and were surprised to see this:
A statue of the “Last Supper” by Peter Barnes, created by using 50,000 keyboard keys. Peter says
I wanted this sculpture to be finished with a mosaic but not in a conventional way. I realised that a computer keyboard is made up of squares which could be used as tiles. This led me to thinking of the possibilities; the letters, numbers and symbols could be utilised to create further interest and meaning.
It was awe inspiring quite frankly and if you get the chance to go and see it, please do. I stood in front of it for good twenty minutes taking it in.
There are two theatres in Cirencester so there is always something going on, and would certainly never be bored if you were there for a while!
We stumbled in to the Corinium Museum and wandered the exhibits learning about the area and the history dating back to the Romans. It wasn’t at all busy (in fact we almost had the place to ourselves, despite it being a Saturday afternoon) and it meant we could read all the exhibit descriptions, build the mosaics and really feel we had learned a lot in a very short space of time.
I will be honest and admit I wasn’t sure about the skeletons in exhibit spaces (though I appreciated the sign on the wall advising that beyond that space there were human remains on show). Something in me felt that whilst educational I somehow wanted those people to be resting in peace in a grave, not in a perspex box in a museum. Anyway, I digress.
We learned a lot, in really short period of time and felt we got to know the town, beyond the high street which is great.
We stayed just outside the town, in a little village called Ewen that I found on Booking.com. We have found that we love the idea of having our own space to retreat to the at the end of a day exploring, and dont always want to necessarily just go back to a hotel room. So we have been booking stays in studios instead so we have a small kitchen area, and a living room. We lucked out here though and had a fabulous studio, with a fully fitted kitchen and lounge area. We found that having explored Cirencester in the morning by tea time we were ready to head back to cook dinner and watch the rugby rather than stay in town and eat out. The perfect balance of self catering and still feeling as though we have had a break away.
You all know how much I love a cup of tea so when we decided to come up with a rating for these places based on spelling out CESTER the T was only ever going to be for tea, right? And Cirencester did not disappoint. Pretty and Pip was on everybody’s list that sent me suggestions, it is a must for breakfast, though it gets busy so probably best to book. And dogs are clearly welcome too if you are travelling with yours. Other places that came highly recommended for tea (or cake and lunch) were Knead Bakery, Sam and Jak’s, Made by Bob (or MBB Brasserie as it now seems to be called. And if you are taking your woofer here then you really do need to book) and Luxe, which appears to be THE instagrammable location in Cirencester.
Weirdly when it came to suggestions for restaurants the local butchers in Cirencester was mentioned a lot. We decided to see what all the fuss was about and headed in to get something for dinner that we could cook back at the place we were staying in. There were lots of “ready meals” that the butcher had prepared and stocked in the fridge but we decided to go back to basics and get a couple of good steaks. They didnt disappoint!
Other places that are worthy of a mention are La Bobina for incredible tapas, and the Kings Head
Just outside Cirencester, in Tetbury, the Cat and Custard Pot was recommended and I really wanted to go there just for the name but sadly our schedule didn’t allow!
We loved Cirencester. It is a town that really lends itself to wandering around at the weekend, with shops that made it feel like it was a central to a welcoming community, and not a tourist trap. Lots of great restaurants, busy cafes and enough culture to make you think you have learned something without having been on a school trip. A great place for a either a day trip, or a weekend away.