2017 sees the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Augustinian Abbey of St Mary, in Cirencester, by King Henry 1 in 1117. Although relations between Abbey and townspeople were sometimes difficult as the Abbey was powerful and held sway over everyone’s life, the wealth it brought to the town became the foundation of the economy we enjoy today.
Abbey 900 is a voluntary community activity of interested local people who wish to provide the town with a year-long festival of linked and themed events for all sectors of the community to enjoy, so come and celebrate with us throughout the year!
Many events will take place in the Abbey Grounds, and all proceeds will support regeneration of this important public open space to help provide an all-round Enhanced legacy for future generations. Events and productions already in the town’s annual calendar will go ahead under the Festival “banner”. Many other events of a cultural, musical, dramatic and social nature are being organised especially to celebrate Abbey 900.
To highlight just a few: –
- 4 original manuscripts from Cirencester Abbey are being loaned by the Bodleian Library, Oxford for display at the Museum. This is the first time they will have been in Cirencester since 1539
- An architectural student has created a computer generated model of the Abbey and a LEGO brick model of the Abbey church will be built by individuals and groups. Both will be a lasting legacy for the town.
- A Fleece Fair. This will include a market, Morris dancers, Maypole dancing and a lunch for isolated older people.
- Various concerts and dramatic productions – such as a production of ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ in the parish church
- School activities – with all schools contributing to making a quilt and a mosaic which will be placed around the children’s play area in the Abbey Grounds
- Re – enactments – a Plantagenet re-enactment based on an event that happened in Cirencester in 1399 and a Civil War re-enactment of events in 1643 when Royalists and Parliamentarians fought a battle in the streets.
The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, is Patron of the festival and she will open it on 22 February 2017 by planting a commemorative tree in the Abbey Grounds and conducting a service in the parish church of St John Baptist.
For more information visit the festival's website - abbey900ciren.org.uk