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A view of part of the High Street

Snake's head fritillaries growing in the National Nature Reserve with the Anglican church behind
Cricklade is located in Wiltshire
 Cricklade shown within Wiltshire
Population 4,227 (in 2011)[1]
OS grid reference
Civil parish Cricklade
Unitary authority Wiltshire
Ceremonial county Wiltshire
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Swindon
Postcode district SN6 6
Dialling code 01793
Police Wiltshire
Fire Wiltshire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament North Wiltshire
Website Cricklade Town Council
List of places

Cricklade is a small town and civil parish on the River Thames in north Wiltshire in England, midway between Swindon and Cirencester. The 2001 census recorded Cricklade's population as 4,132.[2] This increased to 4,227 in the 2011 census.[3]

Cricklade is twinned with Sucé-sur-Erdre in France. Cricklade's Latin motto is In Loco Delicioso, which means "in a pleasant place".[4]

On 25 September 2011 Cricklade was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's 'Champion of Champions' award in the Britain in Bloom competition.[5] The small town has many sporting events and hosts the annual Cricklade Show. Cricklade has a large Jubilee clock, erected in 1898 in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee the preceding year. The clock stands outside the Vale Hotel in High Street, where the Town Cross once stood; there are two versions of the cross in Cricklade, one in the churchyard of St Sampson's, the other at St Mary's, and there is local rivalry as to which one is believed to be the older.


  • History 1
  • Governance 2
  • Culture 3
    • Sport and events 3.1
      • Cricklade Rugby Club 3.1.1
      • Cricklade Show 3.1.2
      • Cricklade Fun Run 3.1.3
      • Cricklade Triathlon 3.1.4
      • Cricklade Leisure Centre 3.1.5
      • Cricklade Cricket Club 3.1.6
      • Cricklade Town F.C. 3.1.7
      • Cricklade Youth Football Club 3.1.8
    • Nature 3.2
      • North Meadow 3.2.1
      • Blakehill 3.2.2
    • Schools 3.3
      • Prior Park Preparatory School 3.3.1
      • St Sampson’s C of E Primary School 3.3.2
    • Churches 3.4
      • St Sampson's 3.4.1
      • St Mary’s 3.4.2
      • United Methodist Church 3.4.3
    • Town twinning 3.5
    • Saxons Rest controversy 3.6
  • Business and economy 4
  • Notable residents 5
  • Transport 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Cricklade was founded in the 9th century by the Anglo-Saxons, at the point where the Roman road Ermin Way crossed the River Thames. It was the home of a royal mint from 979 to 1100; there are some Cricklade coins in the town museum.[6][7] The Domesday book records Cricklade as the meeting place of Cricklade hundred in 1086.

It is one of thirty burhs (fortresses or fortified towns) recorded in the Burghal Hidage document, which describes a system of fortresses and fortified towns built around Wessex by King Alfred. Recent research has suggested that these burhs were built in the short period 878-79 both to defend Wessex against the Vikings under Guthrum, and to act as an offensive to the Viking presence in Mercia. It is argued that the completion of this system, of which Cricklade – situated only a little way down Ermin Street from Cirencester, the Viking base for a year – was a key element, precipitated the retreat of the Vikings from Mercia and London to East Anglia, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in late 879.[6]

The square defences of the fortification were laid out on a regular module. They have been excavated in several places on all four of its sides by a number of archaeologists since the 1940s, and this is possibly the most extensively sampled fortification of the period. In the initial phase, a walkway of laid stones marked the rear of a bank of stacked turves and clay, which had been derived from the three external ditches.[7]

In the second phase, the front of the bank, which after probably only a short period of time had become somewhat degraded, was replaced by a stone wall. This encircled the defences on all four of its sides. The manpower needed to build this was probably roughly the same as was needed to build the original turf and clay defences. This wall, which would have considerably strengthened the defensive capabilities of the burh, has recently been suggested as having been inserted in the 890s. That other burhs of the Burghal Hidage were also strengthened with stone walls suggests that this was part of a systematic upgrade of the original defensive provision for Wessex which was ordered at this time by the king.[7]

The third phase is marked by the systematic razing of the stone wall, which was pulled down over the inner berm (the space between the wall and the inner ditch). Stones from the wall were used to fill the inner two ditches, which demonstrates that this process was deliberate. A similar phase can be observed in the archaeological record at Christchurch, Dorset, another burh of the Burghal Hidage. Similar observations at other burhs suggests that this phase of destruction of the defences was implemented over the whole of Wessex, and must therefore have been the result of a concerted policy, again by inference on the part of the king. The most reasonable historical context for this seems to be accession of King Cnut in the early 11th century, to prevent the burhs being seized and used against him by his rivals.[7]

The fourth phase is marked by the reuse of the original Anglo Saxon defences by the insertion of a timber palisade along the line of the original wall. This probably marks a phase of the re-defence of the town during the civil war of 1144 under King Stephen.[7]

There is little archaeological evidence for the community who were protected by these defences in the Saxon period. There is some indication that streets were laid out in a regular fashion behind the main north-south High Street. This led through a gate in the northern line of the defences to a causeway over the floodplain of the Thames to a bridge over the river, which was probably of a defensive nature.[7]

On John Speed's map of Wiltshire (1611), the town's name is recorded as Crekelade.[7]


There is an electoral ward with the name of 'Cricklade and Latton', which stretches from Cricklade out to Marston Maisey to the north-east. The total population of the ward recorded in the 2011 census was 4,982.[8]


Sport and events

Cricklade Rugby Club

The club was founded in 1992 by ex-school players from many schools at the bar of the Vale Hotel, Cricklade, then owned by ex-President and life members the Ross family. A request for players was placed in the Cricklade Chronicle leading to a very prompt creation. Initially players were committed to other clubs so Sunday fixtures were played, the first one against Aldbourne on 6 September.[9]

The second season moved to Saturday fixtures. The club joined the Dorset & Wilts leagues in 1994 and withdrew when it found that the travelling involved was too time-consuming to players and too costly so able to rejoin 7 years later in 2001 when the leagues were re-structured into North Wiltshire and South.[9]

The club originally used pitches from Prior Park School and the Duke of Gloucester Barracks, and since 2001 play on a prepared pitch in the town kindly leased by the Town Council.[9]

The first game to be played on that pitch was between Cricklade and the President's select XV squad from all rival clubs - about a dozen clubs formed the squad, who played in Gloucester jerseys donated for the day by Gloucester RFC.[9]

Over the years Cricklade Rugby Club have had some of the most wide-reaching tours of the clubs in the area, all over England, West and South Wales and Ireland with teams spanning a broad range of levels of skill and age category.[9]

Dancer at the Cricklade Show

Cricklade Show

The Cricklade Show is held each summer, typically featuring, music, dancing and a cricket match.

Cricklade Fun Run

Run annually in the first Sunday in October, the Cricklade Fun Run hosts a half marathon, 10 km and Fun Run event for around 750 runners. This raises funds for a number of local charities.[10]

Cricklade Triathlon

The Cricklade Triathlon runs in the summer for both adult and junior forms; for the last few years the events were held on different days. The first to coincide with the leisure centre's open day, run to say thanks to the town for their support to keep it open. This year it returns to a single day event.[11]

Cricklade Leisure Centre

Towards the end of 2006, the local council (North Wiltshire District Council) tried to close the leisure centre. After a very active campaign, the local residents successfully managed to take over the running of the centre and were successful in turning its declining fortunes around. It has a swimming pool, squash courts, sports hall with a range of markings, tennis/five a side football courts, bar and lounge area with balcony and barbecue, skate park and children's play areas. In 2009 money was raised for a climbing wall.[12]

Cricklade Cricket Club

Cricklade Cricket Club has been established for over 100 years. Located on the north side of Cricklade, the ground (Southam) is sited on the edge of the River Thames. For the 2011 season the club is running 2 Senior Saturday League teams and 3 youth teams (U-15, U-11 & U-9s) in the Cotswold District Cricket Association (CDCA).

Cricklade Town F.C.

Cricklade Town F.C. are a non-League football team who play at the Cricklade Leisure Centre.

Cricklade Youth Football Club

Cricklade Youth Football Club exists to provide and promote the playing of association football for the youth of Cricklade from U7s to U16s. The club was the first club in Wiltshire to gain the Wiltshire FA Charter Standard – an award for clubs across the country that meet the very high standards required by the FA. We always welcome new players and any adults who wish to help in coaching or managing teams. Further details can be found on the club web site.[13]


North Meadow

Today, the town's main claim to fame is the large nature reserve, North Meadow, which preserves some 80% of Britain's wild Snake's Head Fritillaries in its 150 acres (61 ha), which flower in late April to early May. The meadow is situated between two rivers, the Thames and the Churn, and the unique habitat for the fritillary was created by winter flooding. Such meadows were once common in Britain, but with the advent of modern farming many were drained and ploughed for arable crops from the 1730s onwards. In the case of North Meadow, it escaped such a fate by virtue of the preservation of the Court Leet, the Saxon system of town governance which made sure the land was held in common. The land is managed by Natural England[14] and is run with the support of the Court Leet


In 2000, a disused airfield called Blakehill was bought from the Ministry of Defence by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust[15] to form a second larger meadow of around 600 acres (240 ha), which was opened to the public in 2005. It rears a small quantity of organic grade beef, usually using rare breeds such as Longhorns.


Prior Park Preparatory School

There is an independent school called Prior Park Preparatory School. The school is a non-selective school and has around 200 pupils aged from 7 to 13 years. It provides both day and boarding places and is home to a number of children from overseas and forces families. Children are prepared for Common Entrance and leave at 13 for a variety of independent schools including the school's own senior school, Prior Park College in Bath. Prior Park is a Roman Catholic school but has children from all faiths among its pupils. The school has particular strengths in sport, music and art as well as achieving high academic results with a large number of scholarships to senior schools awarded each year.

St Sampson’s C of E Primary School

There was a state primary school called St Sampson's Church of England School, which was linked with the major local landmark, the Anglican St Sampson's parish church. It was separated in 1979 into two schools; St Sampson's Infant School, for children aged 4–7, and St Sampson's C of E Junior School, for children aged 7–11.[16] In 2014, the schools merged to create St. Sampson's C of E Primary School. Mrs Jenifer Bayne is headteacher of the school.


Church exterior

St Sampson's

Dating back to the 11th century, the church is dedicated to the 5th century Welsh St Samson of Dol. It has the third longest bell ropes in Britain. The present church was built on the remains of another, Saxon church, of AD 890. The main part of the church was built between 1240 and 1280, although on closer inspection the earlier work can still be found. The grand bell tower with four corner pinnacles, the dominant landmark of the town, was built much later in 1551–53 by John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, father-in-law to Lady Jane Grey.

St Mary’s

Church exterior

After St Mary's parish church of the Anglican parish of North Meadow – one of the smallest in Britain was declared redundant in 1981 by the Church of England Diocese of Bristol, it was leased in January 1984 to the local Roman Catholic congregation. The building was founded nearly 1,000 years ago and stands on an earth bank that formed part of the Saxon ramparts. Its features include a fine 12th century chancel arch and medieval preaching cross.[17]

The Friends of St Mary's Cricklade was formed in 1998 to care for the building and a restoration appeal has been launched. A Latin rite mass has been celebrated at various places in Cricklade from about 1939.

United Methodist Church

In 1955, a former Baptist church was acquired by the United Reformed Church[18] and re-opened as the Church of St Augustine of Canterbury.

Town twinning

Cricklade has been twinned with the French town of Sucé-sur-Erdre since 1990. In June 2010 the 20th anniversary was celebrated in Cricklade.[19] Sucé is located just north of Nantes in the Loire Valley, 30 miles (48 km) from the Atlantic coast. In alternate years Cricklade visit Sucé and the following year Sucé visit Cricklade. Cricklade Twinning Association also hold social events throughout the year to raise funds towards hosting the visits by Sucé to Cricklade.

Saxons Rest controversy

In 2009 Cricklade Town Council (with help from Cricklade Bloomers) built a town garden on an open space near Waylands called Saxons Rest which included two large flag poles.[20] This however caused some controversy among the residents of the High Street who considered that their view across the open space would be spoilt and that there would be noise from the halyards on the flag poles. The build went ahead despite a significant number of people signing a petition against it. The majority of the opinion was against the two flag poles, which many residents felt were a needless and pretentious feature. Once built the consensus was that it was an attractive feature in the town and enhanced the area. The overriding feeling was that the town's funds would be best directed elsewhere. One of the suggestions voiced was the prevention of crime and vandalism in the town, which was on the rise. The open space to the rear of the garden is a scheduled monument as this is the location of the Saxon town walls which although no longer visible, are considered historically important. Despite this Saxons Rest was built, which in turn put to rest the remains of the Saxons walls.

Business and economy

Large Georgian homes in central Cricklade

Cricklade Business Association[21] was set up to represent the local business community, the association also has close links to other non-profit making businesses, such as the Rotarians, Waylands Trust and the charity running the leisure centre.

Cricklade has many public houses. These currently include the Vale, the Old Bear, the White Hart, and the Red Lion. Drinks are also sold at the White Horse Members' Club and the leisure centre. An above-average proportion of the population of the ward is retired, as at the 2011 census.[22]

There is a local museum in Calcutt Street run by the Cricklade Historical Society and housed in a former Baptist chapel. T. R. Thomson of Costorphine was a long-time resident of Cricklade and a moving spirit behind the establishment of the society. His book, Materials for a History of Cricklade, and various articles have preserved and enhanced the study of local history in the town.

Notable residents

  • Aura", was born in Cricklade.
  • Reginald Arkell (born 1882), the English script writer and novelist, died in Cricklade in 1959.
  • Alex Tew (born 1984), originator of The Million Dollar Homepage as a way of funding his education, lived in Cricklade.
  • Laura Halford (born 1996), rhythmic gymnast and Commonwealth Games medallist for Wales, lives in Cricklade.


The Thames Path runs through Cricklade. It heads downstream on the southern bank, until it reaches Eysey Footbridge, where it crosses to the other side.

The North Wilts Canal, opened in 1819, passed just to the west of the town. It linked the Thames and Severn Canal with the Wilts and Berks Canal. Abandoned in the early 20th century, parts are now being restored.[23] The Town Bridge at Cricklade, built in 1812, marks the limits of navigational rights on the River Thames.[24]

Cricklade railway station was on the Midland and South Western Junction Railway, which linked Swindon with Cirencester, but this was closed in 1961 and all trace of the station has now gone. Part of the railway route, though, has been opened as a cycle path (national cycle route 45). South of the town, the Swindon and Cricklade Railway is restoring the line as a leisure facility. Since 2007 passenger trains have been run between Blunsdon railway station and Hayes Knoll railway station, and the line is currently being extended towards both Cricklade and Swindon. Since 2014 the line has been extended to Taw Valley Halt on the edge of Swindon. The nearest station to Cricklade is Hayes Knoll railway station.

The nearest mainline railway station is Swindon on the Great Western Main Line.

The A419 Swindon to Cirencester road bypasses the town to the north-east.

See also


  1. ^ "Wiltshire Community History - Census". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Cricklade Census Information". Wiltshire Council. Retrieved 13 December 2006. 
  3. ^ "Parish population 2011.Retrieved 11 March 2015". 
  4. ^ "Criclade town council". 
  5. ^ "RHS 2011 Results". 
  6. ^ a b Christopher Winn: I Never Knew That about the River Thames (London: Ebury Press, 2010), p. 6.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Cricklade Historical Society". 
  8. ^ "Cricklade and Latton ward 2011.Retrieved 11 March 2015". 
  9. ^ a b c d e Cricklade Rugby Club
  10. ^ Cricklade Fun Run
  11. ^ Cricklade Triathlon
  12. ^ Cricklade Leisure Centre
  13. ^ Cricklade Youth Football Club
  14. ^ Natural England
  15. ^ Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
  16. ^
  17. ^ Christopher Winn..., p. 8.
  18. ^ Wiltshire Council Historical Document
  19. ^ "May 2010 Newsletter". Cricklade and District Twinning Association. Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "Residents enjoying new community garden". Wilts and Glos Standard. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ 2011 Census The Office for National Statistics
  23. ^ North Wilts Canal
  24. ^ Christopher Winn... p. 8.

Further reading

  • Pugh, R.B.; Crittall, Elizabeth (eds.) (1956). A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume 3.  

External links

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