It’s all change at the historic Cirencester Park.
Following reports last year that the estate had submitted a planning application for automatic gate closers, electric keeps and keypads added to the pedestrian gates at Cecily Hill, The Old Kennels – Windsor Walk, and Barton Lane, the estate has revealed it is building a new visitors’ centre at the Old Kennels this spring.
The Old Kennels visitors’ centre will act as an entry point to Cirencester Park and “is the next phase of the estate’s commitment to provide improved facilities, information and services to all who enjoy visiting the Park,” says the estate website.
The Bathurst family, which owns Cirencester Park, appears to be determined to haul itself into the 21st century.
For years it has been an open and welcoming estate enjoyed by thousands of local residents every week. However, it was noticeable during the pandemic how much the local residents appreciated the estate with thousands and thousands of people flocking there during lockdown to enjoy the space.
The private estate, which has for years taken a fairly benign view of those enjoying it, must have found it a challenge to maintain and police the areas where it welcomed the public, and it was clear that some of did take advantage (says our editor who lived adjacent to the estate for many years), leaving their litter behind.
Cirencester Park is part of the 15,000-acre Bathurst Estate, a mixture of woodland, park, farmland and, nearer The Mansion in the private Home Park, there are gardens and a lake.
The estate is also home to the Cirencester Park Polo Club, the oldest polo ground in Britain, and Cirencester Cricket Club where WG Grace played.
Located next to The Old Kennels Car Park opened in November 2021, the new visitors centre will replace derelict stables which adjoin listed courtyards, with a cafe and play area for young children. Plans include further buildings and courtyard space available for outlets, events and workshops.
Peter Clegg, the Bathurst Estate’s CEO who was appointed in 2019, said: “We’re looking forward to delivering dedicated facilities to meet our visitors’ needs. This forms part of a wider, long-term investment strategy to restore and maintain Cirencester Park’s historic Grade I listed landscape while adapting and evolving to meet modern-day visitor requirements. From Electric Vehicle points in the new car park to resurfaced walkways, from an innovative cafe to lavatories and baby changing facilities, we aim to make the Park an accessible and enjoyable place for all.”
The Bathurst Estate also intends to improve the historic parkland landscape to the north of The Old Kennels; planting a cherry blossom avenue along a new path that connects the complex to Cirencester Park Caravan Club.
Lord Bathurst said: “It is exciting to see a new chapter being opened as the Estate evolves to meet the growing demands of the 21st century. The Old Kennels were built to house the VWH (Earl Bathurst) foxhounds and horses up until 1963. From there on, they have been used for liveries, as a mechanic’s workshop, saddlery and brewery (both still in operation), offices and residential housing. Now in need of a complete facelift, with new life being injected into them, an opportunity has arisen to meet the increased public demand to use the Park through the creation of a welcoming centre; I am sure it will greatly improve the visitor experience.”
The Old Kennels Car Park provides 46 spaces including six EV charging points.