ONE of Cirencester’s most colourful and eccentric characters of recent years has died following a short illness.

Leslie Taylor, 93, known to many as the owner of the now defunct Rankine Taylor Antiques, died at her Cecily Hill home on Friday, January 3.

She was survived by a son, John Crawford, who said: “She absolutely loved living in Cirencester, it was like a breath of fresh air for her.”

Grandmother-of-three Leslie moved from Edinburgh to Cirencester in the 1960s and quickly opened the famous Rankine Taylor Antiques shop, located on Dollar Street.

During her 40 year tenure as owner of the shop, she entertained many famous customers including the actress Katharine Hepburn and the cricket commentator John Arlott.

Her son John said: “Her life revolved around the shop. She loved customers coming in, it really made her day to be able to chat away about antiques.

“Everyone in the town knew her, especially all of the traders in the Corn Hall who rallied together to sign a special card for her 93rd birthday.”

Generations of Cirencester families will remember Leslie affectionately as the ‘sweetie lady’.

Mr Crawford said: “She always had a jar full of Smarties that she would hand out to all the children that came in the shop. She’d offer the grownups something too, a cup of coffee or a glass of sloe gin.

“She even kept a bowl of dog biscuits close by for any canines that visited the shop.”

Leslie’s shop was renowned for constantly winning Cirencester’s coveted Christmas Window competition, so much so that competition organisers asked her to become a judge.

Her vintage Rolls Royce, which she won in a raffle for £10, was later sold to Lady Sarah Bathurst and is still owned by the Countess to this day.

Speaking about his mother, John said: “She’d loved to be remembered as a merry and happy lady with a wicked sense of humour. She was Scottish through and through and a successful antique dealer.”

A funeral service for Leslie Taylor will be held at Cirencester’s Parish Church on Tuesday, January 21.