On the way back to our holiday accommodation from Snowshill, our route took us close to the small Cotswold town of Chipping Campden. As it was only mid afternoon, we decided to make a short diversion and stop to have a look. This holiday was out first experience of the Cotswolds which is famous for it’s pretty villages with buildings constructed from the golden-Cotswold stone, a type of oolitic Jurassic limestone. Chipping Camden certainly had plenty of them.
The town’s website tells us that its
an ancient wool town, jewel of the Cotswolds, centre of the Arts and Crafts movement, a beautiful place to visit, live or work
but there didn’t seem to be anything about its history. There is, however, plenty of information of the Chipping Campden History Society website.
There were settlements in the vicinity going back a long way, but the town really started to grow between the 13th and 15th centuries due to the wool trade. Apparently many of the buildings in the town date from this period. By the 17th Century the wool trade had declined, but it continues to grow and prosper as a Market Town.
We didn’t spend very long in the town – one of us wanted to get back to the accommodation – so we only had time to take a brief wander along the main street.
Looking closely, the buildings may have been built with the same type of stone but there were different styles, reflecting the different periods when they were erected. The buildings in the High Street are apparently mainly from the 14th century to the 17th century. There were many good examples of vernacular buildings
but we also spotted a number of Georgian style properties, probably built as the town expanded as it became more prosperous.
“Campden” originates from the Saxon ‘campa’ ‘denu’ -meaning ‘a valley with cultivated fields ringed by unfenced hill pastures’. The “Chipping” part of the town’s name, added later during it’s history, is from Old English cēping, meaning ‘market’, ‘market-place’. There are several other towns in the area with the same element in the name, and only a few weeks ago I was in the old Lancashire Chipping on the edge of the Forest of Bowland. So, not surprisingly, the town has an old market square and it was here that we found the old market hall.
Funded by a wealthy benefactor, Sir Baptist Hicks, It was built in 1627 to provide shelter for traders in goods such as cheese, butter and poultry. Not surprisingly it’s a Grade 1 Listed Building.
Like just about every other building on the High Street it’s built of the local creamy limestone. It has a stone slate roof, and each of the slates is secured by a single wooden peg through a hole resting on the wooden cross strut.
The old cobbled stone floor was very uneven! It’s believed that this is the original floor.
Today it’s owned by the National Trust and their website tells us that
In the 1940s it was almost sold to an American, but local people heroically raised the money to buy it first. They gave it to the National Trust
The market hall is the start, or end, point of the 102 mile long Cotswold Way. Now that’s given me an idea!