Sunday, 19 September 2010


Bus passes in hand, we boarded the bus at Lechlade. 'Where to' asked the driver in a lovely rounded Gloucestershire accent.
Cirencester I replied.
'What do you want to go there for?'
To have a look around
What bus are you getting back?
The 13.25
'Better walk slow then'
This exchange set the pattern for an interesting journey, every passenger was greeted in a friendly manner, and the driver waited until everyone was sitting down before he moved off. At Fairford, where a good number got on, as he was about to move away he looked around the pillar at all of us and said ' I must have done something terrible bad in a previous life to be lumbered with you lot' It was an enjoyable journey; as was the return with the same driver.

In Cirencester it was market day; about a dozen stalls confirmed our thoughts that most street markets have shrunk considerably over the last few years. The buildings around the market are an interesting mix and the magnificent parish church of St John the Baptist dominates.
Present day Cirecester was once the Roman town of Corinium. The first church is believed to have been established here in about 300 AD. In 577, the church and the town were destroyed by Saxons; who built another on the site in 700 AD.
This was subsequently demolished and a Norman church was built in 1117 AD, only the chancel remains today. The nave was rebuilt between 1515 and 1530 in the late perpendicular gothic style and the height of 57 feet creates a very large church.
For us, one of the more impressive parts of the interior is the pulpit; stone carved beautifully in the wineglass style and dating from 1440 AD.
Another treasure is the Boleyn Cup, made of silver gilt for Anne Boleyn in 1535, the year before her execution. The church is massive and claims to be the largest parish church in England. A full restoration was undertaken in 1865-7 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.

We then had a look around the Corinium Museum which displays the history of the Roman town. It has a large collection of interesting artefacts and has well set out displays and information, from pre history up to the 19th century including an Anglo Saxon burial site discovered in Lechlade which contained 219 bodies.

A short wander around the town centre, picnic in the churchyard and it was time for the return journey. The driver certainly earned his money as the bus wound its way around ever smaller lanes and villages partially obstructed by badly parked cars.

Back aboard Martlet and moving down river, we said our goodbyes to John at Buscot lock and on to Grafton where the farewell took longer. Keith Webb will have retired by the time that we return to the Thames; he is a lovely man and we will miss his smile as well as his quiet and kind personality.
We wish him a healthy and happy retirement in his bungalow on the coast.
We moored above Rushey lock; only one other boat moored between here and Radcot, it is very quiet and we are not complaining.