Cirencester – Hare(t) of the Cotswolds

For starters, deepest apologies for that awful pun! Let’s begin…… ‘Mad as a March Hare’ is a common British English phrase and proverb, both now and in the time of Lewis Carroll, author of ‘Alice’ Adventures In Wonderland’ & ‘Through the Looking Glass’. The March Hare character appears at a tea party in Wonderland along with the Mad Hatter and is seen as being quite mad, colourful and, shall we say, eccentric. But you won’t find any of Cirencester’s 25 March Hares sipping tea or smashing cups and saucers. Instead, you’ll find them dotted around the town centre, each decorated by talented local artists (including the Siddington-based celebrity Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen) on ‘The Hare Trail’, a route through the town exhibiting all the works of art in shop windows and public places. The Hare has an intrinsic link to Cirencester, not least because old Corinium is the ‘Heart of the Cotswolds’ and is surrounded by ample countryside. But, the connection runs a little deeper – in 1971, the famous ‘Hare Mosaic’ was discovered under what is now the Beeches Car Park (right across the road and visible from our office) and currently takes pride of place in Corinium Museum. It has become a tourism draw and a symbol of the Roman town itself, once the second largest town in Roman Britain. What the Hares have provided is a great way to involve local businesses, the arts community and the general public in creating a new tourist attraction and what is effectively a new brand trigger for the town. However, the March Hare Festival isn’t solely about marketing the town and generating tourism – the Hares will all eventually be sold in an auction on October 4th (or online) with net profits from the project being used to help raise the £50,000 needed for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to begin to develop the ‘Green Hare Churn Walkway’ around the River Churn in Cirencester. This new walkway will involve schools and community groups and will have lasting benefits for residents and visitors alike. For more information – http://www.cirencesterharefestival.org.uk/