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English country cottages in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England

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Cirencester, the 'Capital of the Cotswolds' is a lively market town with roman origins. Visit the Corinium Museum for the full story on the town's history. Although little of the original Roman town 'Corinium Dobunnorum' remains, there is still a large grassed amphitheatre which is worth a visit. There is a fine wool Church, St John Baptist, which stands as an impressive testament to Cirencester's previous wealth and influence. Other ancient buildings in Cirencester include Weavers Hall, the arches of St John's Church, Spitalgate, St John's Almshouses and Coxwell Street. Learn more about them by taking a town walk with a Civic Society guide. There are regular markets in Cirencester, including craft fairs which are held in the old brewery, now converted into an arts centre. Cirencester Park, home of Lord Bathurst, is separated from the town by an immense yew hedge (apparently the largest in the world!). The house is not open to the public, but the beautiful grounds are. Holiday cottages near Cirencester range from traditional thatched Cotswolds cottages to pretty holiday houses to rent in the English countryside.

The village of Bibury, east of Cirencester, is literally picture perfect; it has been used for various film and TV productions and was described by William Morris as 'the most beautiful village in England'. One of the main attractions is Arlington Row, originally built in 1380 as a monastic wool store and converted in the 17th century into a row of Weaver's cottages. These distinctively English cottages are fronted by 'Rack Isle', a little nature reserve surrounded by crystal clear rivers and streams. Bibury has a 17th century mill building, and just next to it a working trout farm set in a pretty water garden. Many of the quaint Cotswold cottages in Bibury, including Arlington Row, are owned by the National Trust and protected by strict building regulations.

Northleach used to be one of Gloucestershire's centres of wool production and its woolly heritage is still evident today. The High street is lined with the houses built by prosperous wool merchants. The large wool church was also built from the profits of the trade in the fifteenth century. Northleach is also home to the 'World of Mechanical Music'. 'World' may be a little misleading, but prepare to be dazzled when you step into a little room crammed with self-playing musical instruments and automata. An expert guide will both inform and entertain by demonstrating music boxes, pipe organs, gramophones and more. Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold are quaint Cotswold towns with quaint Cotswold names. Bourton-on-the-Water is an idyllic spot for a summer's day but it's a bit of a 'honeypot' and can get busy at times. Watch out for coach parties and go off-season if you want to dodge the crowds. It's the 'Venice of the Cotswolds', with the River Windrush flowing right through the centre. The sparkling water, stone bridges and grassy banks certainly make for a pretty scene. There are many visitor attractions, including a Model Village (a mini replica of Bourton-on-the-Water), Birdland, St Lawrence's Church, a Motor museum and the Cotswold Perfumery.

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