With trains reaching London Paddington in just over an hour, Kemble has long attracted commuters searching to balance a fast-paced working life in the capital with downtime immersed in the beauty of the Cotswolds. The 6.30am train was fondly christened the Pinstripe Express after its cargo full of professionals off to the office.
Yet Kemble is no soulless commuter hub but a vibrant village filled with life.
Four miles from Cirencester, Kemble is famous for its position close to the source of the Thames. The Thames Head lies in a quiet field and is marked by a circle of stones and an inscription. It’s a lovely place to stop and marvel how this tiny trickle of water in a meadow becomes the mighty Thames flowing through London. The signposted Thames Path is a National Trail which follows the river if you fancy walking the 184 miles to the Thames Barrier.
First, back to the train station: a real Kemble gem is the Off The Rails café on platform 1 which serves up great coffee, fresh bacon sandwiches and newspapers (not to mention pastries, bagels, crisps and sweets) to morning travellers.
Just a short stroll from the station, The Tavern Inn is perfectly placed to toast the start of your journey or for a restorative tipple on arrival back home. Not just for travellers, The Tavern serves the community with traditional Sunday lunches, summer BBQs in the garden and roaring fires in the winter. It’s dog friendly and has a play area too.
Kemble even boasts an airport. Cotswold Airport is the former home of the RAF Red Arrows and remains a busy airfield which now plays host to a range of aviation businesses including the storage and recycling of old aeroplanes with the result that there are often interesting planes to spot and huge jets incongruously parked up in the middle of the countryside. Here is where you’ll find the AV8 café where your food and drink comes with a thrilling view of the runway.
Kemble Primary School, for 4-11-year-olds, is made up of four classes with around 100 children in total and prides itself on its family feel. Situated in the centre of the village, it is surrounded by rural grounds and beautiful countryside. Breakfast and after-school clubs are provided for working families. There are a number of secondary schools to choose from nearby, the closest being in Cirencester, along with grammar schools in Stroud, Cheltenham and Gloucester.
Kemble Stores combines a shop selling essentials and a Post Office. There is also a doctor’s surgery in the village. First printed in 1969 and now online, The Parish News is the source for all the community news.
All Saints’ Church, built between 1100 and 1250 in the early English style, holds regular services. Within the grounds is an old yew tree said to date from Anglo-Saxon times and to which, reportedly, Roundheads tied their horses in the Civil War. More recently, a stained glass window designed on the theme of ‘the water of life’ was installed to mark the millennium.
There is a village hall which hosts community events as well as a regular coffee morning, yoga and Pilates classes, a baby and toddler group and a table tennis club. For the bargain price of £5 per ticket, recently released films are shown via the Rural Cinema scheme and tea, coffee, wine and beer are sold to enjoy alongside.
Kemble Fête is held annually in the grounds of Kemble House.
There is also a branch of the Women’s Institute and the Royal British Legion and the North Wilts Villages Flower Club arranges regular meetings.
There are plenty of beautiful walks to be enjoyed from the village made easy by a selection of helpful maps on the village website.