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Coordinates: 51°42′29″N 1°47′06″W / 51.708°N 1.785°W / 51.708; -1.785
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

River Coln, Fairford
Fairford is located in Gloucestershire
Location within Gloucestershire
Population3,236 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceSP149010
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townFairford
Postcode districtGL7
Dialling code01285
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
WebsiteWelcome to Fairford Town Council
List of places
51°42′29″N 1°47′06″W / 51.708°N 1.785°W / 51.708; -1.785

Fairford is a market town in Gloucestershire, England. The town lies in the Cotswold hills on the River Coln, 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Cirencester, 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Lechlade and 9 miles (14 km) north of Swindon. Nearby are RAF Fairford and the Cotswold Water Park.



Iron Ages


There was a major roundhouse settlement in Horcott (on the south side of the town),[2] and the Welsh Way, which passed through Fairford, was used during this period as a trade route.

Middle Ages


Evidence of settlement in Fairford dates back to the 9th century and it received a royal market grant in the 12th century.[3] An estate in Fairford, which seemingly belonging to Gloucester Abbey, was bequeathed to Burgred of Mercia in the mid 9th century.[3] At the time of the Norman conquest, Brictric, a large landowner in the West Country, held a manor in Fairford.[3] Matilda of Flanders came to own the land which became property of the Crown.[3] In 1100, Robert Fitzhamon, the first Norman feudal baron of Gloucester, is recorded as owning the land which would be passed down to subsequent barons of Gloucester for the next 200 years,[3] along with the manor of Tewkesbury.

In the Domesday Book, Fairford was listed as Fareforde.[4] In 1066 there were three mills in the town, one of which was still used in the wool trade by the 13th century. The mill that survives today was built in the 17th century.[3]

Both Edward I and Henry VIII were royal visitors to the town in 1276 and 1520 respectively.[3]

Fairford is recorded as having a prison in 1248. Hundred courts were held by the lord of the manor and borough.[3]

By the 15th century the land of Fairford was managed by wool merchants John Twynyho and John Tame after George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence was forced to give up his lands after being tried for treason.[3]

17th and 18th century


In 1608, the inhabitants of Fairford were mostly agricultural labourers or artisans.[5]

Fairford Park, to the north of the town, was made part of the manor house grounds, built by Andrew Barker in the 1660s.[3][6] It would later be turned into a deer park by James Lambe, with an obelisk built to mark the edge of the grounds.[3][7] The park remained in the Barker family until it was sold to Earnest Cook in 1945.

In 1755, seven innkeepers were licensed in Fairford. The first recording of an inn had been in 1419 and this grew over the centuries owing to Fairford's location as a connecting town between larger metropolitan areas. Stagecoach routes often called at Fairford before travelling on to Gloucester, Cirencester, Bristol, Oxford and London.[3]

19th and 20th century

Black granite plaque with carved white upper-case lettering with a Polish Eagle Emblem at the top mounted within a Cotswold dry stone wall. It reads: The site of Fairford Polish Camp 1947-1959. Polish ex-servicemen, who contributed greatly to the allied victory in World War II, joined by their families, vacated by the 186th American Hospital. It provided a temporary home to almost 1500 Polish people. Most had previously been forcibly deported from Poland to Siberian or German labour camps. Fairford Camp became the largest Polish family hostel in Gloucestershire. The Polish ex-combatants Association in GB (SPK) Trust Fund 2015
Plaque commemorating the Polish camp on Leafield Road

The first outbreak of the 1830-1831 Swing Riots withinin Gloucestershire, happened in Fairford on 26th November 1830.[8] Farming machinery which was being manufactured in the town was destroyed by protestors who then joined forces with those from the surrounding villages of Quenington, Hatherop, Coln and Southrop.[3][8]

By this time there were pounds in the town as well as a village lock-up that had been around since at least 1809.[3]

RAF Fairford was constructed in 1944 as a joint British and American base.[9]

From 1947 to 1959, Fairford housed 1,200 Poles in The Displaced Persons Camp who had been displaced due to the Second World War.[10] The site had originally been an American Air Force hospital that was built during the war. The buildings were then repurposed for the camp before being demolished in 1977.[3]

21st century


Iraq War


In March 2003 'Flowers to Fairford' was held as a protest against the use of RAF Fairford as the base for the 14 B-52 bombers aircraft which were used to bomb Iraq as part of Operation Desert Storm. Several thousand people attended and there was a large police presence, but the event passed off peacefully.[11] A coach load of people intending to protest was stopped in Lechlade under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and searched by police and sent back to London.[12][13] Ninety of the detained demonstrators formed Fairford Coach Action and sought legal recourse against Gloucestershire constabulary.[14] The group stated that:

"On 22 March 2003, the police used surprisingly extreme tactics to prevent more than 120 activists from reaching [the] legally sanctioned anti-war demonstration in Fairford, (Gloucestershire, UK). The demonstration outside a US Airforce Base in Fairford was well attended with estimates of up to 5,000 activists attending. Among the scheduled speakers on the day were writer George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas (MEP). The people who police prevented from attending were a diverse group with a broad range of affiliations. The main thing that they had in common was the desire to travel from London by coach and the intention of joining the legal protest in Fairford. Two of the four main scheduled speakers for the Fairford demonstration were travelling on these coaches from London. After the coaches had travelled two and a half hours from London, the coaches were stopped by police just miles from the demonstration. Using section 60 powers (of the Public Order and Criminal Justice Act 1994) police searched the coaches for weapons for one and a half hours. The passengers cooperated with this search, and they were invited to reboard the coaches when the search concluded. No arrests were made and no items found. After all the passengers boarded, the coaches were escorted immediately back to London under a continuous 9–12 vehicle police escort."

In 2013, after appeal, Gloucestershire police's actions were found to be unlawful, and included breaching "protesters' rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly."[15] Some of the demonstrators involved were awarded upwards of £4,000 in compensation by a judge after taking their claim to court.[16]



In July 2007 Fairford suffered unseasonably high rainfall which led to major flooding of 64 homes on Milton Street and London Street as well as in some other surrounding areas. This meant that many of the annual events had to be cancelled.[citation needed]

Archaeological find


In 2013, a female skeleton was found in the River Coln and was later discovered to be of Sub-Saharan origin. The remains were estimated to be around 1000 years old and it is thought that the woman was around 18-24 when she died.[17][18]



St Mary's Church


The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary is renowned for its complete set of medieval stained glass, stone carvings and misericords. Rebuilt in the early 1490s by the wool merchant John Tame (d.1500), the church is an example of late Perpendicular Gothic architecture that is characterised by slim stone window mullions and light but strong buttresses. The style enabled larger windows than previously, allowing much more light into the building. Grade 1 listed by English Heritage, its structure and details remains unaltered since built.[19]

Stained glass, St Mary's Church


St. Mary's is of national historical and architectural importance because it houses the most complete set of mediaeval stained glass windows in the country, attributed to Barnard Flower. The glass survived the Reformation when many images in English churches were destroyed. In 1642, during the Civil War, they narrowly avoided destruction[20] when the Roundhead army was marching on the nearby town of Cirencester.

Some of the panes were damaged during a storm in November 1703 and those were repaired and modified or replaced. A conservation and restoration programme began in 1988 and finished in 2010. Clear glass now protects the old glass.[21]

Churchyard, St Mary's Church


The churchyard includes a stone memorial to Tiddles, the church cat who fell off the church roof. There is also a stone grotesque to commemorate a young boy who climbed up the walls of the church and jumped, falling to his death. The churchyard contains eight Commonwealth war graves; three British Army soldiers, a Royal Navy seaman and a Royal Air Force airman of World War I and two British soldiers and a Home Guardsman of World War II.[22]

St Thomas' of Canterbury


Fairford has a 19th-century Catholic church of St Thomas of Canterbury. Following the closure of the recusant chapel at Hatherop Castle in 1844, a church was built at Horcott the following year at a cost of £700. The first Mass was celebrated in 1845, five years before the Restoration of the Hierarchy in England and before the creation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton. The stained glass window behind the altar depicts St. Thomas of Canterbury in the centre panel, showing the date 1845. The adjoining Presbytery was built 20 years later to designs by Benjamin Bucknall,[25] the architect of Woodchester Mansion. The church contains an organ by Hill and stained glass by William Wailes, Hardman and Geoffrey Robinson. The two windows in the porch were added to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Mass. The left window depicts the crest of the de Mauley family; that on the right depicts the Eucharist.

Fairford United Church


In 1981 a group of local Methodists approached the local Congregational Church to use the chapel for their services as there was no Methodist Church in Fairford. They were officially united into one congregation in 1986 and the present church follows the traditions of both the Methodist Church and the Congregational Federation.

The churches in and around Fairford are represented by the organisation Churches Together Around Fairford (CTAF) which has meetings and organises services of unity.



Fairford was part of the Cirencester Rural District until the Local Government Act 1972, when it became part of the Cotswold District.[3]

Fairford has a Parish Council with 13 members. The mayor is James Nicholls.

After a boundary review implemented for the 2015 local elections, Fairford was split into two District Council electoral wards called Fairford North Ward (single member) and Lechlade, Kempsford and Fairford South Ward (two member). On Cotswold District Council Fairford North Ward is represented by Liberal Democrat Andrew Doherty and Lechlade, Kempsford and Fairford South Ward is as of May 2023 represented by Liberal Democrats Councillors Clare Muir and Helene Mansilla.

As of 2021, the town is represented on Gloucestershire County Council by Conservative Councillor Dom Morris who represents the Fairford and Lechlade on Thames Division.

The ward population at the 2011 census was 4,031.[26]

2023 Cotswold district Council Election Results

Fairford North Ward
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Michael Vann 406 51.5 −17.7
Conservative Tom Dutton 316 40.1 +9.8
Heritage James Nicholls 67 8.5 N/A
Majority 90 11.4
Turnout 789
Liberal Democrats hold Swing
Lechlade, Kempsford and Fairford South Ward (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Clare Muir 1,150 56.5 +26.2
Liberal Democrats Helene Mansilla 976 48.0 N/A
Conservative Stephen Andrews* 785 38.6 −13.4
Conservative Steve Trotter* 776 38.2 −13.6
Labour Esme Barlow Hall 131 6.4 N/A
Labour Trevor Smith 114 5.6 −9.1
Majority 191
Turnout 2034 9.4
Liberal Democrats gain from Conservative
Liberal Democrats gain from Conservative

2017 Cotswold district Council by-election results


Fairford North Ward

Fairford North Ward by-election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Andrew Doherty 610 68.1 +40.2
Conservative Dominic Morris 270 30.1 −20.9
Green Xanthe Messenger 15 1.8 +1.8
Majority 270 38.0
Turnout 897 46.57
Liberal Democrats gain from Conservative Swing 30.6%

2021 Gloucestershire County Council election results

Fairford and Lechlade on Thames
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Dom Morris 2,326 59 +4
Liberal Democrats Tony Dale 1,344 34 +2
Labour Sharon Aldrick 261 7 +1
Majority 982 25 +2
Turnout 3,931 45.20 +5.40
Conservative hold Swing



The town's secondary school is Farmor's School, an 11-18 co-educational academy. The school was judged to be of outstanding standard, having achieved Grade 1 in its Ofsted inspection in 2010.[27] After becoming an academy it achieved lower grades from the board over the years: "Good", "Requires Improvement" and "Good" again in 2013, 2017 and 2021 respectively.[28]

There is also a primary school (Fairford Primary),[29] and a playgroup. Coln House School was a 9-16, residential/day, state special school. After being put into special measures following a 2016 Ofsted report, the school closed in March 2017.[30] Built in 1822 by Alexander Iles as a private asylum called The Retreat, it closed in 1944 before becoming a school in 1949.[31]



Fairford was formerly linked to Oxford by the Witney Railway and its extension the East Gloucestershire Railway. The route was active between 1873 and 1962.[3] There have been reports that part of the old track could be cleared of accumulated mountains of detritus and overgrown trees to be re-opened as a cycle path.[citation needed] There is a bus service to Cirencester and Lechlade, from where travellers can transfer to another bus and travel onwards to Swindon.



Local news and television programmes is provided by BBC South and ITV Meridian. Television signals are received from the Oxford TV transmitter. [32]

The town is served by both BBC Radio Wiltshire and BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Other radio stations including Heart West, Greatest Hits Radio South West, Cotswolds Radio, community based radio station [33] and Air Tattoo Live, a RSL station which broadcast coverage during the Royal International Air Tattoo.

Fairford is served by the weekly local newspaper, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. [34]



Air Tattoo


For three days every year RAF Fairford hosts one of the world's largest military air shows – the Royal International Air Tattoo. The event usually takes place in July and brings a boost to the economy of the town and surrounding areas.[citation needed]

Ploughing Championship


The Fairford, Faringdon, Filkins and Burford Championship and Country Show held every year since 1948.[35]

Steam Rally


The Ernest Cook Trust used to host the annual Fairford Steam Rally and Show. The Show closed in 2015 after running for 46 years.[36]

Sport and leisure


Fairford has a non-league football team Fairford Town F.C. who play and train at Cinder Lane. Fairford have their own rugby team FRFC, playing in green and black strip. Fairford also has a women's netball team, competing in the nearby Swindon league. The town also has the Walnut Tree Field: a large playing field and park, a cricket club (dating back to the early 1900s),[3] a bowling, sailing and water skiing club.[37][38][39] Fairford had a leisure centre until 2019 which had been managed by Farmor's School since 2013.[40]

Fairford also has a youth football club, based at Horcott Road which caters for children between the ages of 5 and 15 years old. The club, established in 1976, is a FA Chartered Club, run by volunteers for the benefit of local children from Fairford and surrounding villages. Teams from U8 and above play in the North Wiltshire Youth Football Leagues.



The Secret Diary of Sarah Thomas, 1860 – 1865, is a published journal by a Victorian diarist living in Fairford. It features local landmarks.[41]

Notable residents



  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  2. ^ Biddulph, Edward. "Oxford Archaeology - Latest news". oxfordarchaeology.com. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Herbet, N. M. (1981). "'Fairford', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 7". www.british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  4. ^ "The Domesday Book Online - Gloucestershire A-F". www.domesdaybook.co.uk.
  5. ^ Warmington, Andrew (1989). "FROGS, TOADS AND THE RESTORATION IN A GLOUCESTERSHIRE VILLAGE". Midland History. 14 (1): 30–42. doi:10.1179/mdh.1989.14.1.30. ISSN 0047-729X.
  6. ^ "Andrew Barker ca.1630-1700 - Book Owners Online". bookowners.online. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  7. ^ The Gentleman's House in the British Atlantic World 1680-1780. doi:10.1057/9781137378385.
  8. ^ a b Hobsbawm, Eric J.; Rudé, George (1969). Captain Swing. Lawrence and Wishart.
  9. ^ Morgan, William (13 December 2022). "US Air Force moving HQ to RAF Fairford". GloucestershireLive. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  10. ^ "Memorial marks 50th anniversary of Polish camp". Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  11. ^ "Flowers to Fairford - 22 March 2003". www.fairford.org. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Telegraph | Opinion | The police must end their abuse of anti-terror legislation". 31 December 2005. Archived from the original on 31 December 2005. Retrieved 20 April 2023.
  13. ^ Dent, Jackie (14 October 2004). "'Coach-napped' activists protest outside court". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  14. ^ Staff (23 October 2006). "Anti-war protesters' rights breached, court told". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  15. ^ "RAF Fairford protesters win legal battle against police". BBC News. 8 February 2013.
  16. ^ Bowcott, Owen; correspondent, legal affairs (8 February 2013). "Iraq war activists to get £4,000 compensation over 2003 protest". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 April 2023.
  17. ^ Gover, Dominic (18 September 2013). "The First Black Briton? 1,000 Year Old Skeleton of African Woman Discovered by Schoolboys in Gloucestershire River". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  18. ^ "Schoolboys amazed that skeleton is 1,000 year old African woman". Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  19. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Mary, Fairford (1089998)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  20. ^ Don Cobbett (8 August 2011). "Fairford Town History". Fairford & District U3A. Archived from the original on 12 September 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  21. ^ Andrew Russel (8 June 2012). "The History of St Mary's Church". St. Mary's Church Fairford. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  22. ^ http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/38552/FAIRFORD%20(ST.%20MARY)%20CHURCHYARD CWGC Cemetery Report, details from casualty record.
  23. ^ Keble, Rev. Edward, St. Mary's Church, Fairford. 6th. ed., Much Wenlock, 2010, p.27
  24. ^ MacLean, Sir John (ed.), Visitation of Gloucestershire 1623, London, 1885, p.260 Tame, p.51 Dennis
  25. ^ "St Thomas Catholic Church Fairford". www.stthomasparish.plus.com.
  26. ^ "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  27. ^ "OFSTED report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2010.
  28. ^ Ofsted Communications Team (25 September 2021). "Find an inspection report and registered childcare". reports.ofsted.gov.uk. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  29. ^ "Fairford C of E Primary School".
  30. ^ "Establishment Coln House School". Gov.uk. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Coln House School". Historic England. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Full Freeview on the Oxford (Oxfordshire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  33. ^ "Cotswolds Radio". Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  34. ^ "Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard". British Papers. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  35. ^ FFF&B. "F.F.F.& B Ploughing Match". F.F.F.& B Ploughing Match. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  36. ^ "Breaking: Fairford Steam Show closed after running for 46 years, but restarted again in 2023. It's free to attend and is taking place on the 17th and 18th August 2024".
  37. ^ "Walnut Tree Field - playing field & park". 18 August 2018.
  38. ^ "Fairford CC".
  39. ^ "Leisure Centre". 16 December 2000.
  40. ^ "Row over report looking into closure of Tetbury and Fairford leisure centres". Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  41. ^ "The secret diary of Sarah Thomas : 1860-1865 | WorldCat.org". www.worldcat.org.

Further reading