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CIRENCESTER-popularly Ciceter, -a town, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred in Gloucester. The town stands at the meeting-point of the Fosse way, Icknield-street, and Ermine-street, on the river Churn, at a branch of the Thames and Severn canal, ¼ of a mile from the terminus of a branch of the Swindon and Gloucester railway, 11 miles by road and 14 by railway E by S of Stroud. It occupies the site of an ancient British town, called Caer-Cori, and of a Ro-man town, called Corinum or Duro-Cornovium; and was the capital of the Dobuni. Traces of the ancient town have been observed round a circuit of upwards of 2 miles; vestiges of a Roman amphitheatre are seen in what is called the Bull ring; and very many Roman relics, including coins, urns, statues, altars, inscriptions, pavements, and hypocausts, have been found. Environ-ing walls continued to stand, or were reconstructed in the Saxon times, but suffered demolition in the reign of Henry IV.; and a castle of some note comes into view in the time of the Empress Maud, but is now repre-sented by only a plain Norman gateway, called the Spital gate. The town was taken by Caelwin in 577; occupied by the Danes in 878; witnessed a great council of Canute in 1020; suffered severely in the wars of Stephen; was the scene of great military events in the times of John and Henry IV.; and was stormed in 1642-3 by Rupert, and afterwards given up to Essex. A college of prebendaries was founded at it in the early Saxon times; and an abbey of Black canons, stately and rich, succeeded this in 1117, and was given, at the dissolution, first to Sir Thomas Seymour, afterwards to Richard Masters. Only two gateways and a barn of the abbey are now standing; and a mansion, called Cirencester Abbey House, the seat of the descendants of Richard Masters, occupies the site.
The town comprises four principal streets, a number of small thoroughfares, and several new streets; is built chiefly of stone; and presents an agreeable appearance. The town hall is a neat edifice in the Tudor style. The corn exchange was built in 1862; and the public hall in 1864. The parish church is approached under a magnificent three-story gate-house, with a parvise of the time of Henry VIII.; has a handsome western pinnacled tower, in perpendicular architecture, 134 feet high; has also a fine decorated south porch, 30 feet long; comprises an aisled nave 77 feet by 74, a chancel 50 feet by 24, and five chapels from 12 feet by 9 to 47 feet by 21; and contains thirteen brasses from 1360 onward, monuments of the Bathursts and others, and two curious sets of ancient sculptures. The nave and north chapel are perpendicular English; the chancel is partly early English, partly early decorated; and one of the largest of the chapels has a groined fan-roof. A project was launched in the autumn of 1862, to renovate this interesting edifice at a cost of £12, 000. There are seven non-estab. chapels, a temperance hall, a mechanics' institute, an agricultural college, three endowed schools, two endowed hospitals, militia-barracks, alms-houses, and a workhouse. The agricultural college is in the Tudor style, with a frontage of 195 feet; stands on a farm of 600 acres; includes a library, a museum, a lecture-hall, and a chapel; and possesses ample appliances for the practical and scientific training of about 200 pupils. The grammar school was founded, in the time of Henry VII. by Bishop Ruthall; has an endowed income of £26; and numbers among its scholars Jenner, Dallaway, and Dr. Parry. Mrs. Powell's yellow school has £653 a year; T. Powell's blue school, £123; the total charities, £1, 509. A cemetery, with mortuary chapels, was formed in 1869.
The town has a head post-office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and two chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions and a polling-place; and publishes two weekly newspapers. Markets are held on Mondays and Fridays; and fairs on Easter Monday and the first Monday of Aug., Sept., Oct., and Nov. Woollen manufacture was formerly extensive, but has greatly declined. The present trade is chiefly agricultural, but includes some cutlery. The town sent two members to parliament from the time of Elizabeth till 1867, but now sends only one. Its borough boundaries were formerly of small extent; but are now conterminate with the parish. Acres, 5, 000. Real property in 1860, £25, 414. Direct taxes in 1857, £6, 023. Electors in 1868, 464. Pop. in 1841, 6, 014; in 1861, 6, 336. Houses, 1, 300. -Richard of Cirencester, who flourished in the latter part of the 14th century, and wrote an account of Roman Britain, was a native; and the Duke of Portland takes from the town the title of Baron. The parish or borough includes the tythings of Barton, Chesterton, Oakley, Spirringate, and Wiggold. A chief residence is Oakley Grove, the seat of Lord Bathurst. The parochial living is a vicarage, united with the p. curacy of Water-Moor, in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol. Value, £443.* Patron, the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.
The sub-district contains the parishes of Cirencester, Preston, Harnbill, Driffield, Siddington, South Cerney, Rodmarton, Coates, Stratton, Baunton, Kemble, Shorncote, Poole-Keynes, and Somerford-Keynes, -the four last electorally in Wilts. Acres, 30, 074. Pop., 10, 840. Houses, 2, 313.The district comprehends also the sub-district of Cotswold, containing the parishes of Sapperton, Edgeworth, Duntisborne-Abbotts, Winstone, Side, Brimpsfield, Elkstone, Colesborne, Rendcombe, North Cerney, Badgington, Duntisborne-Rouse, and Daglingworth; and the sub-district of Fairford, containing the parishes of Fairford, Kempsford, Quenington, Hatherop, Barnsley, Ampney-Crucis, Ampney-St. Peter, Ampney-St. Mary, Poulton, Down-Ampney, Maisey-Hampton, and Marston-Maisey, -the last electorally in Wilts. Acres, 85, 366. Poor-rates, in 1862, £11, 260. Pop. in 1841, 20, 728; in 1861, 20, 934. Houses, 4, 499. Marriages, in 1860, 161; births, 667, -of which 38 were illegitimate; deaths, 371, -of which 96 were at ages under 5 years, and 8 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1, 482; births, 6, 818; deaths, 4, 159. The places of worship in 1851 were 40 of the Church of England, with 8, 922 sittings; 2 of Independents, with 661 s.; 9 of Baptists, with 1, 140 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 550 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 50 s.; 2 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 331 s.; 8 of Primitive Methodists, with 565 s.; 1 undefined, with 60 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 130 s. The schools were 35 public day schools, with 2, 297 scholars; 34 private day schools, with 632 s.; and 38 Sunday schools, with 2, 768 s. -The hundred is conterminate with Cirencester parish or borough.
(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))
|Feature Description:||"a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred" (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 3rd order divisions")|
|Administrative units:||Cirencester CP/AP Cirencester SubD Cirencester RegD/PLU Gloucestershire AncC|
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