Cricklade is a small town in north Wiltshire
, on the River Thames, situated midway between Swindon
Cricklade is twinned with Sucé-sur-Erdre in France.
In the 2001 census the population of the town was 4,132.
There is a large clock, known as the Jubilee clock, which was erected in 1898 in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee the preceding year. It stands outside The Vale Hotel in the High Street, where the Town Cross once stood. There are two replicas of the cross in Cricklade; one is in St Sampson's grounds, the other at St Mary's, and there is a certain local rivalry as to which one is believed to be the original.
Cricklade was founded in the ninth century by the Saxons, and was chosen for the fact that it is where the Roman Ermin Street
crosses the River Thames. It was the home of a Saxon royal mint.
It is one of thirty burhs (fortresses or fortified towns) mentioned 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 878-9 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.
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 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.
In the second phase, the front of the bank, which after probably only a short perod 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 capablities 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.
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 implemeted 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, in order to prevent the burhs being seized and used against him by his rivals.
The fourth phase is marked by the reuse of the original Saxon defences by the insertion of a timber palisade along the line of the original wall. This probably marks a phase of the redefence of the town during the Civil War of 1144.
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.
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 local charities.
The Cricklade Triathlon runs in the summer for both adult and Junior forms and last year (2007) for the first time the events were held on different days. The first to coincide with the Leisure Centres 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
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.
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 2007 season the club is running 2 Senior Saturday League sides in the Cotswold District Cricket Association (CDCA)
Cricklade Youth Football Club
Cricklade Youth Football Club exists to provide and promote the playing of Football for the youth of Cricklade from U7's to U16's. 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 (see External Links).
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 (just over 60 hectares), 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.
In 2000, a disused airfield called Blakehill was bought from the Ministry of Defence to form a second larger meadow of around 600 acres (243 hectares), 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 also an independent school called Prior Park Preparatory School
. Prior Park is a Roman Catholic School and is linked to the Prior Park College in Bath
St Sampson’s C of E School
There is a state primary school called St Sampson
's Church of England
School, which is linked with the major local landmark, the Anglican
St Sampson's Parish Church. It is separated into two parts; the Infant's school, for children aged 4-7, and the Junior school, for children aged 7-11. Mr Henstridge is the headteacher of the junior school, and Mrs Blundon the headteacher of the infants.
Dating back to the eleventh century, the church has the third longest bellropes
. The present church was built on the remains of another, Saxon church, of 890AD.
The main part of the church was built between 1240 and 1280, though on closer inspection, earlier work can be found. The grand, four spired belltower, the dominating landmark of the town, was built much later, between 1551 and 1553, by the Duke of Northumberland, father in law to Lady Jane Grey.
When St Mary's Church of England parish church (The Parish of North Meadow – one of the smallest parishes in Britain) was declared redundant by the Anglican
diocese of Bristol, it was leased in January 1984 for use by the local Roman Catholic
community. The building was founded nearly 1,000 years ago and its features include a fine 12th Century Chancel Arch and mediæval preaching cross.
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.
In 1955, a former Baptist church was acquired and re-opened as the Church of St Augustine of Canterbury.
Alex Tew was a resident of Cricklade at the time of creating The Million Dollar Homepage
Cricklade Business Accociation
Set up to represent the local business community, the association also has close links to other non-profit making businesses, such as the Rotarians.
Cricklade New Business of the Year
The Cricklade Business Association (CBA) voted Pure Hair & Beauty as the winner of the CBA new business award 2007.
Cricklade has many public houses
; the list currently includes The Vale, The Old Bear, The White Hart, The White Lion, The Red Lion, The White Horse Member's Club and the Leisure Centre.
There is also the local museum
in Calcutt Street run by the Cricklade Historical Society 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 served to preserve and enhance a study of local history in the town.
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.
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, however, the Swindon and Cricklade Railway is restoring the line as a leisure facility. As of 2007, passenger trains are being run between Blunsdon railway station and Hayes Knoll station, and the line was being actively extended towards Cricklade.
The A419 Swindon to Circencester road by-passes the town to the north-east.