The historic town of Cricklade in North Wiltshire makes for a charming and enjoyable visit. While house sitting in nearby Swindon, we packed a picnic lunch and went for a history lesson in this quintessential English town. Founded in the 9th Century by the Anglo-Saxons, Cricklade was strategically located where the Roman road Ermin Way crosses the Thames.
St. Sampson is the Church of England parish church and was built between 1240 and 1280 on the site of a 9th Century Saxon church. The majestic 4-pinnacled tower was built in 1551 – 1553 by John Dudley the 1st Duke of Northumberland.
Jenner Hall was built in 1652 and was one of the first free schools in England. It borders St. Sampson church yard and serves as a community center today.
Views across the rooftops reflect several centuries of history.
High Street boasts many fine Georgian homes as well as a mixture of cafes, shops and services.
The Red Lion Inn is a traditional English pub dating from the early 1600s.
The pride of the residents can be seen in the appearance of their homes along High Street and adjoining alleys.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church dates from the 12th Century and was built just inside the Saxon walls. Cricklade was one of several burhs (fortified towns) built by King Alfred in 878 – 879 as protection against the Vikings.
As you reach the north end of High Street you cross the River Thames which at this point is near its headwaters. There is a lovely foot path along the Thames and through a National Nature Reserve.
We spent about three hours wandering along High Street and the narrow lanes that led off it and could easily have spent the entire day. The pubs and restaurants looked inviting.
There are hundreds of fascinating historical towns and villages throughout England. This one was close however and we particularly enjoyed the feeling we got from a few short hours in Cricklade and wanted to share some of its charms.