Minchinhampton

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Minchinhampton is an ancient market town, located on a hilltop 4 miles (6.4 km) south-south-east of Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, in the Cotswolds and the Cotswolds AONB. The town is twinned with Nkokoto, in Tanzania.

Nearby is Minchinhampton Common, a recreation area for walkers and golfers, 580 acres (2.3 km2) of which is managed by the National Trust. The Common is also used as grazing land for the cows of local farmers in the summer. On the Common are long parallel ditches and mounds which formed part of a large Iron Age fort. There are good views from the Common, west over the Severn estuary into Wales, and east to the Golden Valley and further into the Cotswolds.

There are two churches in Minchinhampton – Holy Trinity (Anglican) and Minchinhampton Baptist Church. The spire of the parish church of the Holy Trinity was pulled down for safety reasons in 1863 and now the stub has been completed with a “coronet” structure.

Minchinhampton is close to the former Ministry of Defence airfield, Aston Down, formerly a large employer in the area, now closed down and used for gliding. In 2005, following a Freedom of Information request, the local newspaper revealed that Aston Down is contaminated with arsenic, hydrocarbons and radium. Since the site is located above a vulnerable aquifer, local residents have formed a pressure group, the Aston Down Action Group, in an effort to persuade local government and central government agencies to implement more stringent safety regulations.Minchinhampton is close to Gatcombe Estate, the home of the Princess Royal, which hosts the Gatcombe Horse Trials in late summer each year. There is a twice-yearly craft fair at Gatcombe, and a summer visit by Gifford’s Circus every other year.

The town’s shops are clustered in and around the High Street and comprise a general store, two hairdressers, Boots the Chemist, a ladies’ boutique, a butcher’s shop, a local organic dairy outlet, two restaurants, a cafe, a Post Office, an electrical retailers, an antiques shop, an estate agency and several charity shops, together with The Crown Inn. There is also a doctors’ surgery, library, dentist, school, youth club and sports facilities.

The main square has a War Memorial and an early Market House, where a market is held every Thursday. The 17th-century Market House was given to the town in 1919 by the Lord of the Manor Lt. Col. H. G. Ricardo. It was restored in 1944.

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