NEXT weekend sees the Cirencester Heritage Open Day, when many of our buildings open their doors to welcome visitors; from the historic Quaker Meeting House and the Old Railway Station, to the brand new Baptist Church and St James’ Place.

Details and opening times can be found at just search for Cirencester or enter your own postcode.

Cirencester has a long heritage which we should rightly be proud of. At one time, we were the second largest Roman town in Britain, with our own amphitheatre for entertainment. And just this year we’ve been celebrating the founding of St Mary’s Abbey 900 years ago through the sensibly named Abbey900 organisation.

It’s worth noting that the monks of the Abbey provided the social services of their day. They oversaw the building of St John’s Hospital, the remains of which can be seen in Spitalgate Road. They also built Dollar Hall by the entrance to the Abbey, so-called because from there they would dole out free food and drink to those in need. Essentially, this was Cirencester’s first foodbank, and it’s to our shame, I think, that we have need of such an organisation again after all the years of ‘progress.’

At Ashcroft Church our display on Saturday, September 9 will feature some of the many groups who make use of our building, including the Cirencester Foodbank, who I know have been particularly busy during the summer period. 

I’m not trying to portray Ashcroft Church as the new Abbey, but I do believe that it is central to the Christian ethos to reach out to those in need in our community.

Groups such as the Foodbank, Signpost, CGL (Gloucestershire drug and alcohol service) and others are part of our calling; to love God and to love our neighbour.

Cirencester Ashcroft Church