Self-styled “Capital of the Cotswolds”, the affluent town of CIRENCESTER lies on the southern fringes of the region, midway between Oxford and Bristol. As Corinium, it became a provincial capital and a centre of trade under the Romans. The town flourished for three centuries, and even had one of the largest forums north of the Alps, but the Saxons destroyed almost all of the Roman city, and the town only revived with the wool boom of the Middle Ages. Few medieval buildings other than the St John the Baptist church have survived, however, and the houses along the town’s most handsome streets – Park, Thomas and Coxwell – date mostly from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today Cirencester’s heart is the delightful, swirling Market Place, packed with traders’ stalls on Mondays and Fridays.

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