A base in the Cotswolds

 The Corn Hall in Cirencester where the book and craft sales took place.

(Part 1 of 3) Cirencester is a good base from which to explore England’s lovely Cotswold area. In July-August ’03 we rented a cottage for six weeks at Glebe Farm Holiday Cottages (Barnsley, Cirencester, Glos. GL7 5DY, ENGLAND; phone 01285 659226, fax 01285 642622, e-mail enquiries@glebefarmcottages.co.uk). These are run by Polly and Nick Handover.

Our cottage was one of five high-standard and spacious barn conversions which shared a washing machine, dryer and pay phone. There was ample parking.

Our cottage, called “The Dairy,” was on two levels. Two bedrooms and a bathroom were at ground level, and the well-equipped kitchen, sitting room and balcony were above. It could sleep four, so we found it nice and comfortable for the two of us. The second bedroom was given over to my husband’s radio equipment (he’s an Amateur Radio operator).

We paid £315 per week for a total of US$2,948 for the six weeks. This included a 10% discount for length of stay. Two other cottages, called “Calf Pens” and “Milking Parlour,” each accommodated up to six people. Prices vary for the different cottages and according to the season.

This knight was being equipped with his armor at the Battle of Bosworth reenactment.

We were very happy with our choice of Cirencester as base. It is a lively market town, and the street market recorded in the Domesday Book is still a feature of the town’s life. Shopping facilities are excellent. The Corn Market holds many craft markets and book sales. There are many fine shops in Bishop’s Walk, Woolmarket and Swan Yard and a wealth of restaurants all around. However, eating out is pretty expensive in the whole Cotswolds area and we usually made sandwiches to take with us for lunch and then cooked dinner in the cottage on our return.

Although we did not eat out much, I would recommend two places. We enjoyed a very good Sunday lunch, lamb with roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings, at the Catherine Wheel in Bibury. It cost £7.95 (near $15) each, including a drink. A snack lunch we would recommend was the one we had at Bar Havana in Cirencester for £4.10 each: a sandwich of very lean bacon, tomato and lettuce with French fries and tea.

Do not miss Cirencester’s Air Raid Shelter Museum, open 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays from May to October. It is free, but donations are welcome. There are displays on air raid precautions, medical facilities, the Home Guard, etc., which really bring back wartime memories if you happen to have lived through that period.

Being a resident for six weeks, I was happy to become a temporary member of the local library. It was free.

One of the main reasons we went to England at this particular time was to be there for the reenactment of the Battle of Bosworth (1485) at Market Bosworth, west of Leicester and northeast of Birmingham. From Cirencester, we drove more or less northeast 2½ hours; however, it was a comfortable-enough drive to be done in one day. We went via the Fosse Way (the old Roman road); this was a more scenic route and less congested than the motorway.

The Dairy, our home for six weeks near Cirencester. Photos: Pacheco

The Wars of the Roses Federation reenacts the battle for two days each year in August (in 2004, Aug. 21-22). On our visit, the whole field was alive with tents and people in medieval costume. There was a small-arms display at noon to open the event. A little later a participant showed the crowds how a knight was equipped with his armor. It was a particularly hot day, so we were glad we weren’t in his shoes! The battle reenactment was at 4 p.m.

Entry on Saturday was slightly cheaper than on Sunday, though visitors saw the same activities. We paid £4 each, the senior rate. Gates opened at 11 a.m. both days and closed about 6 p.m. There was a restaurant for snacks at the Visitor Centre. For more information from the Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre, visit www.leics.gov.uk.

Zephyrhills, FL

Next up, Valerie will tell about some of the off-the-beaten-track towns she visited from her base in the Cotswolds.