Page 5 - Market Times June 2021
P. 5

Often called the capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester has more than its fair share of markets, including an indoor market housed in the old Corn Hall that offers a cornucopia of beautiful and unusual lines. Nicola Gould pays a visit
 What’s in a name? The good traders of Cirencester put their heads together but could not agree on exactly the right name for their speciality market where you can buy everything from beautifully designed, hand-crafted jewellery to custom-made cheeseboards complete with tiny mice — and the truckle cheese to serve on them.
So they settled for The Indoor Market. The name might not be inspiring or particularly informative but it does mean punters have to visit to discover the range of arty, crafty goods and gifts on offer in the beautiful surroundings of a lovingly- restored, Cotswold stone former corn hall.
And visitors are not disappointed.
Known as the capital of the Cotswolds and probably most famous as the home of The Royal Agricultural College, now a university, Cirencester built its wealth on wool and moved on to arable when cotton took over.
With its Roman origins and its honey- coloured, Cotswold stone buildings, it must be one of the prettiest towns in one of England’s most beautiful, sought-after areas, hence the town’s characterful markets are the opposite of down-market.
The charter market takes place in the picturesque, cobbled square every
Monday and Friday, with stalls selling basketware, carved wooden garden ornaments, furniture, and fine food, all very much in keeping with the demographic and the town’s status as a tourist destination.
As is so often the case, the outdoor and indoor markets feed off each other. The indoor market offers locals and tourists something a little different and quite chic six days a week.
Monday to Thursday is the indoor market. Friday is antiques and collectibles, and Saturday is craft. On four Sundays a year the Corn Hall hosts a vintage market when a singer in vintage garb adds to the celebratory atmosphere.
So, before COVID-19, the markets were chugging along nicely.
Augusta Wreay, who has run the markets since local property developer Wildmoor Properties acquired the Corn Hall, said the traders had weathered the pandemic and they were all delighted to be back trading on the first Monday lockdown lifted.
“There had actually been an antique market in the Corn Hall from the 1970s when it was owned by the council,” she said.
In those days setting up stall could also involve placing a bucket in exactly the
right spot to catch the rain leaking through the roof.
The markets continued undaunted until the sale of the hall to Wildmoor Properties in 2006 ushered in better times.
The company, owned by local businessman Mark Booth, who also owns the adjacent hotel and has done a lot for Cirencester, invested in the historic building.
An ambitious, £2 million restoration programme was completed within 18 months and the second phase went ahead in 2013 and 2014. This included the con- version of semi-derelict buildings adjoining the hall to create a café area and extension, new toilets and a new 12,000 sq ft mezzanine floor.
The historic building went from dark and dismal to light and welcoming, and both traders and shoppers appreciated their new-look market.
Augusta said: “The investment really made a difference but of course it is the traders and their wonderful mix of crafts and gifts that make this market what it is,” she said.
The fact that there was no consensus on the right name for the market is testimony to the diversity and originality of the offer.
“Cirencester is a wonderful, vibrant
  Augusta Wreay has run Cirencester’s Corn Hall indoor market for the past 12 years

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