South Cerney: the best of both worlds

South Cerney, the biggest village in Gloucestershire, is the perfect location for those looking to escape the city but still wanting to live in a vibrant community. Not only does it have lots going on, it’s also just three miles from the historic market town of Cirencester.

Founded by Saxon settlers in 999, South Cerney is now a bustling village complete with three pubs, All Hallows church (which has Norman origins), a doctor’s surgery, dental practice and pharmacy, a post office (with a deli attached), cafes, a Church of England primary school, a couple convenience stores, a choice of takeaways (South Cerney Tandoori Balti House and South Cerney Fish & Chips), football and cricket clubs and an amateur dramatics society.

Join us for a whistle stop tour:

The oldest part of the village sits across the River Churn where you can walk along several picturesque lanes, including the wonderfully named Bow Wow, flanked by honey-coloured Cotswold stone houses.

South Cerney lies within the Cotswold Water Park, a wetlands landscape, rich in wildlife, that covers 40 square miles and incorporates 180 lakes. It attracts visitors from far and wide to its nature reserves, and has a huge range of watersports, a beach, bike trails, wildlife, waterside walks and cafes.

With not one but three pubs to choose from offering food, open fires and beer gardens, villagers are spoilt for choice with The Royal Oak, the Eliot Arms and the Old George Inn.

Build up a thirst with a good country walk or join one of the local sports clubs. For those who love the sound of leather on willow, new players are always welcome at South Cerney CC. If football is more your thing, South Cerney Youth FC runs teams for boys and girls or try your hand at angling with South Cerney Angling Club open to new members and visitors.

There is a village school, Ann Edwards C of E Primary School, with the pre-school South Cerney Playgroup next door.

South Cerney Halls include the traditional village hall and Fenton’s Community Centre which incorporates Cafe@Fenton’s, a dog friendly café serving coffee, tea, porridge, pastries, traybakes and croissants. The Halls play host to a variety of clubs, classes, parties, village shows and amateur dramatics. Talking of which, the South Cerney Players are a sociable am-dram group who have been putting on plays and pantomimes for the village since 1936.

The Braai House Deli reinvigorated the old post office by turning it into a coffee shop and deli while keeping the post office running. Pop in with a parcel and stay for the fresh coffee and all-day breakfasts. They also have fresh biltong made in-house along with cakes, pies, meats and locally sourced artisan foods.

The 100-acre Berry Farm is home to the fourth generation of the Berry family along with their small flock of Ilyen sheep and Burford Brown chickens. The milking parlour has been converted into an event barn which plays host to yoga classes, parties, weddings and corporate events. Meanwhile @berryfarmfitness runs PT and fitness classes in the hay barn.

Beanology, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, runs a range of sessions for all ages, including new parenthood and toddler groups and a community gardening project for families with young children. All run ‘with compassion, warmth, laughter and a cup of tea’.

Holly Elphick is the baker behind Project Cakery conjuring up bespoke celebration and wedding cakes, bitesize treats and postal goodies. The business was originally run by Holly’s mum Claire who sadly died of cancer in 2019. Wanting to continue the bakery in her mum’s memory, Holly took over at the age of 18, keeping her mum’s signature bakes alongside her own delicious creations.

The highlight of the village calendar is the annual South Cerney Street Fair and Grand Duck Race. It was started by All Hallows church over 30 years ago and has since grown into a weekend-long fiesta. The fun includes stalls, activities, food and drink, morris dancers, live music and a flower festival. It all culminates in the excitement of the Grand Duck Race as hundreds of yellow ducks take to the river.