Top places to live in Gloucestershire Cirencester
With butterscotch-hued buildings and acres of stately parkland Cirencester is sky high on the good life hit list. It might have a price tag to reflect its brilliant schools and bucolic setting - but it's oh so tempting. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
A truly stand-out Cotswold market town that combines history with hipness in spades. Perched on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Beauty it’s crammed with pretty butterscotch lanes, outstanding schools, bustling boutiques, exceptional restaurants and a chilled café scene. Famed for being ‘well heeled’, it’s in fact a wonderfully unpretentious town with a strong community spirit and friendliness that makes it an ideal place for families.
The pretty Abbey Grounds play host to the phenomenal annual Phoenix Festival – the Cotswolds free music and arts festival. The Royal Agricultural University is here too, but it is far more Barbours than bar crawls. The ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’ – or just Ciren as locals call it – gives you the full package, historic architecture, a recently redesigned central piazza lined with pretty pastel shops at the heart of the town and a cosmopolitan mini-metropolis buzz.
The Malt and Anchor won Best Fish and Chip Shop in the UK (UTV Food awards 2020) and does a legendary Prosecco-based Fizz ‘n Chips night. Made by Bob ( and its new global deli next door) is where the culinary conoscenti go to network and nosh. Head for the King’s Head Hotel with its rooftop bar for spritzes in the sun and Teatro for eclectic pre-show dining. Hip coffee haunts Pretty & Pip and Luxe make for great snack stops, and Jesse’s – Cirencester’s only two-rosetted restaurant serves up fabulous seasonal dishes. Don’t miss out the newly opened Knead Bakery, a finalist in the Muddy Awards 2021 for Best Covid Biz and an amazing patisserie that takes cakes to another level.
It’s also worth venturing a few miles out of town to The Bell at Sapperton, a lovely rustic gastro-pub that does epic Sunday roasts. And the brilliant Jolly Nice Farmshop and takeaway is a favourite (the vegan sausage rolls and flapjacks are legendary).
Ciren’s increasingly becoming known as a hotspot for fashionistas. Head for Seasalt, Crew, Joules and The Danish Wardrobe Company. It’s home to the gorgeous Sue Parkinson boutique for fashion and homewares (stock up on your Marella and Mulberry), French Grey and Biggie Best for homewares, and boho-chic emporium Law and Company for must-have fashion. There’s an eclectic sprinkling of little boutiques, especially down pretty little Black Jack Street, including At the Boutique and the brilliant, independent (and Muddy Stiletto’s Best Bookshop 2021) Octavia’s Bookshop.
Delve into the cavernous Cirencester Antiques Centre on the main street for antiques and seek out Jolie Maison for upcycled vintage furniture tucked away in the centre. Another must-do is to visit the eclectic Antique and Collectible Market held in the Corn Hall every Friday, an Aladdin’s cave of jewellery, paintings, and vintage homewares. Every week sees a brilliant Farmers’ Market too in the main market place, with the best bread, cheese, locally-made gin and olives this side of the channel.
This place is so elegant even the Lido is fed by spring water (heated to 80F in the summer). Bask on the patio at this stunning outdoor pool with it’s fairytale castle backdrop. Spend the morning at The Corinium Museum or head to the Barn Theatre for a show. Take a saunter (or a canter if you’re horsey) through the grand Bathurst Estate (get a hot chocolate from the fantastic Beano horse box cafe whilst you’re there). The Abbey Grounds is lovely for picnics, or head 10 minutes south and discover the Cotswold Water Park with 170 lakes to walk around, a pop-up beach, pedalos, and watersports galore.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
£361,139. Not particularly cheap, but not too bad for a slice of the good life. Well-priced homes can be found at Kingshill Meadow south of the town (£335,864 for a semi) but if you want the full Cotswold-stone dream, a 4-bed period townhouse will cost you upwards of £500,000.
People move here for the excellent schools (we did, dear reader). Town centre Powell’s C of E primary consistently ranks highly in school league tables and Kingshill School and Deer Park are two very strong, local secondaries. A couple of miles outside of town you’ll find Rendcomb College, an award-winning day and boarding school for ages 3 to 18. It has resplendent grounds and enviable high-tech facilities as well as a great reputation in the area. Or opt for the dynamic and high-achieving Hatherop Castle prep school for ages 2 to 13, set in 22 acres of beautiful rolling hills.
BEST KEPT SECRET
Prepare to share your coffee queue with frilly-sleeved designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (he’s also just opened his flagship shop here), actor Ben Miller and This Country’s Daisy May Cooper, who all live locally. Curiously, Ciren’s also home to the UK’s tallest hedge – a 300-year-old, 40ft yew hedge that surrounds the famous Bathurst Estate.
Excellent. You’ll find Kemble station just 10 minutes drive away, which has regular, direct train services to London Paddington taking 1 hour and 10 minutes, there is also great access to M4 and M5 motorways for travel to the South East and South West.
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