143km (89 miles) W of London; 26km (16 miles) S of Cheltenham; 27km (17 miles) SE of Gloucester; 58km (36 miles) W of Oxford

Cirencester is the unofficial capital of the Cotswolds. In the Middle Ages, it flourished as the center of the great Cotswold wool industry. Dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, many well-preserved old stone houses are still intact, some having bow-fronted shops of the type familiar to Charles Dickens.

Once known as Corinium, the town had five roads converging here during the Roman occupation. In size, it ranked second only to London. Today, it is chiefly a market town and a good base for touring. We prefer to visit the Market Place in the center of town on Monday or Friday morning when the people from the country flock to town to hawk their produce. (And don't worry about how to pronounce Cirencester. Even the English disagree. Say Siren-cess-ter and you'll be close enough.)