Chipping Campden

St James' church
Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden
Location within Gloucestershire
Population2,288 (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceSP155395
Civil parish
  • Chipping Campden Town Council[1]
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtGL55
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
52°03′07″N 1°46′44″W / 52.052°N 1.779°W / 52.052; -1.779Coordinates: 52°03′07″N 1°46′44″W / 52.052°N 1.779°W / 52.052; -1.779
Chipping Campden Market Hall
Chipping Campden Market Hall

Chipping Campden is a small market town in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. It is notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century. ("Chipping" is from Old English cēping, "a market, a market-place"; the same element is found in other towns such as Chipping Norton, Chipping Sodbury and Chipping (now High) Wycombe.[2])

A rich wool trading centre in the Middle Ages, Chipping Campden enjoyed the patronage of wealthy wool merchants (see also wool church), most notably William Greville (d.1401). Today it is a popular Cotswold tourist destination with old inns, hotels, specialist shops and restaurants. The High Street is lined with honey-coloured limestone buildings, built from the mellow locally quarried oolitic limestone known as Cotswold stone, and boasts a wealth of fine vernacular architecture. Much of the town centre is a Conservation Area which has helped to preserve the original buildings.[3] The town is the end point of the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile Long-distance footpath.

Chipping Campden has hosted its own Olympic Games since 1612.

Important buildings and gardens

For a relatively small town, Chipping Campden boasts a full 256 historically Listed buildings from small to massive.[4]

At the centre of town stands the Grade I listed Market Hall with its splendid arches, built in 1627 by Sir Baptist Hicks in 1627 and still in use. The building was intended as a shelter for merchants and farmers selling their wares with the side walls open to allow light, and customers, to enter.[5] There was a plan to sell the hall in the 1940s but locals raised funds to purchase the property and donated it to the National Trust.[6]

The grand early perpendicular Cotswold wool Church of St James with its medieval altar frontals (c.1500), cope (c.1400) and vast and extravagant 17th-century monuments includes a monument to silk merchant Sir Baptist Hicks and his family. As well, the Grade I listed Church of St James includes a plaque to William Grevel, described as "the flower of the wool merchants of all England". His home, the Grade I listed Grevel's House, was built around 1380 and is not open to visitors.[7][8]

East Banqueting House and St James at Chipping Campden.
East Banqueting House and St James at Chipping Campden.
St James church, Hicks memorial
St James church, Hicks memorial

The Grade I listed Almshouses on Church Street were built in 1612, provided by Sir Baptist Hicks as homes for 12 pensioners and still remains in use for that purpose. The Old Silk Mill in Sheep Street, Grade II listed, is a three-storey building originally used as a mill for spinning of silk thread; it closed in 1860 and became a silk throwing mill.[9] In 1902, the building was converted into the headquarters for the Guild of Handicraft.[10] The Court Barn near the church is now a museum celebrating the rich Arts and Crafts tradition of the area (see below).

Hicks was also the owner of Campden House, on land he purchased some time after 1608; he added the manor and gained the title 1st Viscount Campden. The manor was destroyed by Royalists in 1645 during the English Civil War possibly to prevent it falling into the hands of the Parliamentarians.[11] There is little reliable evidence as to the appearance of the manor and gardens. Any drawings of the house were made long after it had been destroyed.[12] All that now remains of Sir Baptist Hicks' once imposing estate are a gatehouse and two Jacobean banqueting houses;[13] the latter were restored by the Landmark Trust.[14] Lady Juliana Noel, Sir Baptist's daughter, and her family lived at the converted stables near the site in Calf Lane, now called the Court House.[15] Her descendant still lives in that Grade II listed building.[16][17]

In 1970 the High Street and much of the town center was officially designated a conservation area to preserve the architecture.[18]

There are two famous and historic gardens nearby: the Arts and Crafts Hidcote Manor Garden, owned and managed by the National Trust, and another at nearby Mickleton, Kiftsgate; this site is in private ownership but open to the public. Two miles to the west, in the grounds of Weston Park near Saintbury, are the earthwork remains of a motte-and-bailey castle.[19]


Chipping Campden High St
Chipping Campden High St

The town falls in 'Campden-Vale' electoral ward. This ward stretches north from Chipping Campden to Mickleton. The total ward population taken at the 2011 census was 5,888.[20] In Local Government Chipping Campden is represented by a Town Council of 11 Councillors. One Councillor is selected to serve as Mayor for a term of 12 Months. Chipping Campden Council meets on the second Tuesday of Every Month in Chipping Campden Town Hall. All Council Meeting are open to the public with time set aside for public questions.


There are two primary schools, St James’ & Ebrington Church of England and St Catharine's Catholic and one secondary school, Chipping Campden School.[21]

Public transport

The currently closed Chipping Campden railway station.
The currently closed Chipping Campden railway station.

The Cotswold Line passes near Chipping Campden, but the town's railway station closed in 1966. Since 2014, there have been proposals to reopen it.[22] Regular trains currently stop at Moreton-in-Marsh, eight miles away, from where Oxford is a 26-49 minute ride and London Paddington can often be reached in less than 90 minutes.

Buses are available to Stratford-upon-Avon, Moreton-in-Marsh and Cheltenham.[23]

Cotswold Games

Main article: Cotswold Olimpick Games

Cotswold Games, 1636 woodcut
Cotswold Games, 1636 woodcut

Since the early seventeenth century, the town has been home to a championship of rural games, which later turned into Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpick Games. The games were discontinued in 1852 but revived in 1963 and still continue.[24]

The Olimpicks are held every summer on the Friday evening following the late Spring Bank-holiday (usually late May or early June), on Dover's Hill, near Chipping Campden. Peculiar to the games is the sport of shin-kicking (hay stuffed down the trousers can ease one's brave passage to later rounds).

To mark the end of the games, there is a huge bonfire and firework display. This is followed by a torch-lit procession back into the town and dancing to a local band in the square. The Scuttlebrook Wake takes place the following day. The locals don fancy dress costumes and follow the Scuttlebrook Queen, with her four attendants and Page Boy, in a procession to the centre of town pulled on a decorated dray by the town's own Morris Men. This is then followed by the presentation of prizes and displays of Maypole and Country dancing by the two primary schools and Morris dancing. Another procession from there past the fairground in Leysbourne and the Alms Houses brings that stage of the celebration to a close whilst the fair continues until midnight and, like a ghost, is gone by the morning.

The 2019 Games agenda included events such as a children's half-mile Junior Circuit, a Championship of the Hill race for adults and a Tug O’War competition. The organizers also planned fireworks, a torchlit procession, marching bands and cannons firing.[25]


Since 2002 Chipping Campden has hosted what is now widely recognised as one of the UK's leading music festivals. The 2020 Festival had been scheduled to run from May 9 to 23, but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.[26]

Arts and Crafts movement

Charles Robert Ashbee, founder of the Guild and School of Handicraft. Portrait by William Strang, 1903
Chichester Cross by Griggs, 1904
Chichester Cross by Griggs, 1904

In the early 20th century, the town became known as a centre for the Cotswold Arts and Crafts Movement, following the move of Charles Robert Ashbee and the members of his Guild and School of Handicraft from the East End of London in 1902. According to the local historical society, the movement "focused on handmade objects, reacting against the rapidly growing dominance of machinery which resulted in the loss of craft skills".[27] The Guild of Handicraft specialised in metalworking, producing jewellery and enamels, as well as hand-wrought copper and wrought ironwork, and furniture-making. According to Historic England, "the Guild of Handicraft, founded by Ashbee in 1888, became one of the foremost Arts and Crafts workshops of its period .. formed the focus of the communal life which, as a pioneering social experiment, formed the most bold and important expression of Arts and Crafts principles".[28] The Guild ceased operation in 1907 but the centre for crafts offers a permanent exhibition of their work.[29][30]

A number of artists and writers settled in the area, including F. L. Griggs, the etcher, who built Dover's Court (now known as New Dover's House), one of the last significant Arts and Crafts houses. He set up the Campden Trust in 1929 with Norman Jewson and others, initially to protect Dover's Hill from development. According to a 2018 report, Griggs "sympathetically restored houses on the High Street, battled against a tide of ugliness that engulfed other towns and villages and used money he could ill afford to safeguard its surroundings". In 1934, he raised funds to buy the Coneygree field (where rabbits had been raised generations earlier) for the National Trust to ensure its protection.[31][32] Many of Griggs' etchings are preserved at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.[33]

H. J. Massingham, the rural writer who celebrated the traditions of the English countryside, also settled near the town, as did Arthur Gaskin. Ananda Coomaraswamy, the Sri Lankan philosopher and art critic and his wife the handloom weaver Ethel Mairet, settled at Broad Campden where Ashbee adapted the Norman chapel for him.[34]

In 2005, a group of traditional craftspeople moved into The Old Silk Mill building. As of 2019, there were 28 members of this co-operative.[35]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Chipping Campden Town Council - Part of Campden Online". Chipping Camdpen Town Council. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ A.D. Mills, Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 83.
  3. ^, A warm welcome from Chipping Campden
  4. ^, Listed Buildings in Chipping Campden, Cotswold, Gloucestershire
  5. ^, A warm welcome from Chipping Campden
  6. ^, Chipping Campden Market Hall
  7. ^, A warm welcome from Chipping Campden
  9. ^, The Old Silk Mill
  10. ^, A warm welcome from Chipping Campden
  11. ^, Baptist Hicks (1551 - 1629)
  12. ^, Background to the Campden House Project
  13. ^, Baptist Hicks (1551 - 1629)
  14. ^, Sir Baptist Hicks
  15. ^, Court House
  16. ^, Baptist Hicks (1551 - 1629)
  17. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  18. ^, Chipping Campden Tourist Information Guide
  19. ^ "Saintbury Castle - South West - Castles, Forts and Battles". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Campden-Vale ward 2011". Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  21. ^, Let’s move to Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
  22. ^ "8.6 Chipping Campden". Local Plan Reg. 18 Consultation: Development Strategy and Site Allocations January 2015. Cotswold Council. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  23. ^
  24. ^, Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpick Games
  25. ^, Robert Dover's Cotswold Olimpick Games
  26. ^ "Chipping Campden Music Festival". Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  27. ^, The Old Silk Mill
  29. ^, Arts & crafts
  30. ^, C R Ashbee and The Guild of Handicraft
  31. ^, How an Arts-and-Crafts architect fought to preserve the beauty of Chipping Campden
  32. ^, Facts around the town
  33. ^, F L Griggs: Visions of England
  34. ^ Norman Chapel House, British Listed Buildings, Retrieved 21 October 2015
  35. ^, The Gallery at the Guild
  36. ^ [1] Archived 2 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Campden Cottages web site
  37. ^ Vivien Greene Obituary The Guardian (London), 23 August 2003
  38. ^, Chipping Campden
  39. ^ Designer's Trade, Gordon Russell
Following the Cotswold Way
Chipping Campden
9 km (6 miles) to