Cirencester Market Square

Cirencester Market Square
Cirencester Market Square. Photo by Adam Burt, licensed under CC BY 2.0
One thing we have all looked forward to for a long time is the revamp of Cirencester’s market place. This famous landmark is set to be transformed back to its agricultural roots in a long awaited £1 million overhaul. Cirencester, often known as the capital of the Cotswolds, has been waiting more than forty years for this welcome news after several stops and starts with the planning.

However, we hear that innovative new designs are being unveiled at Bingham Gallery where an exhibition will show the proposed works. It is hoped it will meet resident’s approval and is open to all.

As part of Cirencester Town Council’s Town Centre Regeneration Scheme, kerbstones, general clutter, and traffic lights will disappear to give way to a pedestrian’s zone. High quality paving and a level surface between roads and pavements will encourage shoppers to roam the town centre. Traffic will be reduced to a single carriageway on the south side of the road to open up a pedestrian’s zone in front of the Cirencester Parish Church. Cirencester’s markets would find a new home within the “public realm” by the church, meaning that shoppers would no longer have to dodge traffic to browse the stalls.

The objective is to make the place attractive and people friendly to draw more visitors into the town. It is no accident the plans are reminiscent of the early 19th century market place, when the town centre was thriving with markets and fairs.

Cirencester’s market square is dominated by the cathedral-like St. John Baptist church (one of the largest in England). The large south porch with its impressive fan vaulting was built about 1490. Cirencester’s market town status was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Traders still set up their stalls every Monday and Friday and since 1999, the town has had its own farmers’ market. Crafts and antiques markets are also regular attractions. The new revamp will add character and return the market square to a gentler place and time.

Cirencester has been the centre of trade for centuries. The Charter Market still runs in the square on Monday and Friday each week. Produce includes organic vintage cheeses, plants and flowers, fish including some interesting Manx Kippers, Arbroath Smokies, and fresh peeled shrimps. Olives, vegetables, fruit gifts and antiques can all be found here.

The last revamp of the market square was in 1830 before the Corn Hall was built so it is long overdue and promises to be a fascinating area when completed. In the meantime, why not go and see the plans for the revamp and take advantage of the existing market and what this lovely city has to offer.

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