For other uses, see Fairford (disambiguation).

River Coln, Fairford
 Fairford shown within Gloucestershire
Population 3,236 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceSP149010
Shire countyGloucestershire
RegionSouth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town Fairford
Postcode district GL7
Dialling code 01285
Police Gloucestershire
Fire Gloucestershire
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK ParliamentThe Cotswolds
WebsiteWelcome to Fairford Town Council
List of places

Coordinates: 51°42′29″N 1°47′06″W / 51.708°N 1.785°W / 51.708; -1.785

Fairford is a small town in Gloucestershire, England. The town lies in the Cotswolds on the River Coln, about 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.


An electoral ward in the same name exists. This ward extends northwards from Fairford to Quenington. The total ward population taken at the 2011 census was 4,031.[2]


The town's secondary school is Farmor's School, an 11–18 co-educational Academy. The school is judged to be of outstanding standard, having achieved grade 1 in its Ofsted inspection in 2010.[3] There is also a primary school, Fairford Primary, and a playgroup.


There is for 3 days every year RAF Fairford which hosts the world's largest military air show – the Royal International Air Tattoo. The event brings a boost to the economy of the town and surrounding areas.

In March 2003 "Flowers to Fairford" was held as a protest against the use of USAF Fairford as the base for the 14 B-52 bombers aircraft which were used to bomb Iraq. Several thousand people attended and there was a large police presence, but the event passed off peacefully and without incident.[4]

Other people intending to protest certainly did experience an incident. The Fairford Coach Action group states 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 slowly 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 FOR ANY BEHAVIOR OR ITEMS FOUND. Passengers now believed they were going to proceed to the demonstration at Fairford. After all the passengers boarded, the coaches were forced all the way back to London under a continuous 9–12 vehicle police escort." The Police action resulted in a Court Case[5]

The Ernest Cook Trust has its headquarters in Fairford Park, which also hosts the annual Fairford Steam Rally and Show. This is attended by many hundreds of enthusiasts .

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.


"The Secret Diary of Sarah Thomas, 1860 – 1865", is a published journal by a Victorian diarist living in Fairford. It features many local landmarks.[6]

Sport and leisure

Fairford has a Non-League football team Fairford Town F.C. who play and train at Cinder Lane. Fairford also have their own rugby team FRFC, playing in Green and Black strip.


Fairford was formerly linked to Oxford by the Witney Railway and its extension the East Gloucestershire Railway. There have been sporadic 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, using persons sentenced to Community Service i.e. "offenders" as labour. There is a regular bus service to Cirencester and Lechlade, from where travellers can transfer to another bus and travel onwards to Swindon.


St Marys

The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary is renowned for its complete set of medieval stained glass, stone carvings and misericords. Built in the early 1490s, the church[7] 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, 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, and its structure and details remains unaltered since originally built.[8]

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.[9]

  1. ^ Keble, Rev. Edward, St. Mary's Church, Fairford. 6th. ed., Much Wenlock, 2010, p.27
  2. ^ MacLean, Sir John (ed.), Visitation of Gloucestershire 1623, London, 1885, p.260 Tame, p.51 Dennis

St Thomas' of Canterbury

Fairford also 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 (Fairford) 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,[10] 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

The origins of Fairford United Church began in 1981 when a group of local Methodists approached the local Congregational Church to use the Chapel for their own services as there was no Methodist Church in Fairford. They were officially united into one congregation in 1986 and the present church follows the best traditions of both the Methodist Church and the Congregational Federation.

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


Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to St. Mary's church.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Fairford.
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