CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Chipping Norton: Charmingly Chippy

PUBLISHED: 01:16 23 October 2011 | UPDATED: 21:39 20 February 2013

Chipping Norton: Charmingly Chippy

Chipping Norton: Charmingly Chippy

With its independent shops, eateries, architecture and fascinating history, Chipping Norton pretty much has it all. Emily Carlisle gives us the lowdown on 'Chippy'. Photography by Chris Fairweather

Chipping Norton: Charmingly Chippy



With its independent shops, eateries, architecture and fascinating history, Chipping Norton pretty much has it all. Emily Carlisle gives us the lowdown on Chippy. Photography by Chris Fairweather



Chipping Norton is often billed as the gateway to the Cotswolds, but viewing this busy market town as nothing more than a thoroughfare would be a mistake. The town is home to all manner of independent shops, superb eateries and stunning architecture, with plenty to interest those keen on history. Trade in Chipping Norton once centred around the textile industry, and although Bliss Mill has long since been converted to luxury apartments, its distinctive tower provides a familiar landmark for the town as you approach from Moreton-in-Marsh.



Chippy is full of quirky shops such as West Streets CoCa an Aladdins cave of furniture, knick-knacks and collectibles. Three years ago business partners Emma Carter and John Cooper took on a small shop and filled it with second-hand furniture and clothing.



We started off as a junk shop, Emma says, offering customers a fifty-fifty split to sell their unwanted items. The business grew steadily and this summer they moved into larger premises, selling a mixture of antiques and pre-owned household items. Ive always loved second-hand furniture, Emma told me, ever since I used to poke about car boot sales as a little girl. The quality is so much better than modern furniture and it can really add something special to a home. Amongst CoCas wares when I visited were a rosewood breakfast table, a fur coat and a battered old rocking horse, well loved but still sturdy enough for each of my children to try out.



The town centre is dominated by the newly refurbished town hall, built in 1841 to watch over the sloping marketplace, where traders have met weekly since the 13th century. Here too, more exotic fare can be found at the monthly Farmers Market.



Book shop Jaffe and Neale sits in prime position on the edge of the market square, tables and chairs set out on the paved terrace beneath their distinctive blue and white lettering. Owner Patrick Neale is passionate about Chipping Norton and believes independent book shops can offer something money cant buy. We give customers a little bit of calm in a busy world, says Patrick, who worked at Waterstones for fifteen years before opening Jaffe and Neale in 2001 with his partner Polly Jaffe.



Here you can have a coffee while you browse the shelves, or let us suggest something new to read. The shop won Independent Bookseller of the year in 2007 and is a key partner in Chipping Nortons first literary festival, to be held in April next year.



Culture abounds in Chippy, with a summer festival bringing the whole town out for a day of music and arts, and the Rotarians jazz festival each September, boasting fringe events across the town. Gastronomes will enjoy the annual food festival organised by Nick and Sally, restaurateurs and owners of Wild Thyme, a superb restaurant listed in this years Good Food Guide.



Residents of Chipping Norton are justly proud of the towns theatre, which sits just around the corner from The Chequers Inn, home to the Cotswold Comedy Club and arguably the best pub in town. The Theatre has a varied programme of plays, comedy shows and films, as well as childrens workshops and exhibitions. Director John Terry aims to provide affordable entertainment.



We believe it should be possible to experience the best in live entertainment without travelling to London, and you shouldnt have to pay extortionate prices to do so. The Theatre is renowned for its traditional Christmas productions and this years panto, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, runs from 22 November to 7 January. Oh yes it does.



If youre already thinking about your Christmas shopping, youll be spoilt for choice in Chippy. On the upper side of the town, known locally as top side, traditional department store Beales heads up a row of handy shops including proper hardware store Gill & Co, one of the few places remaining where you can still buy screws individually.



Further on, I find it almost impossible to walk past the window of jewellery shop Wild at Heart without touching the glass reverently and mentally compiling my wish-list. Emily and Adrian Wild opened their Chipping Norton store in 2006 (they have a second in Moreton-in-Marsh) after months of plotting and planning. We wanted to build a family business which would bring together stylish, modern and contemporary jewellery from around the world, Adrian says. We also source beautiful jewellery from local designers the Cotswolds are very creative. Like many of the shops in Chippy, the personal service makes all the difference, and their Tiffany-esque packaging is truly irresistible.



Across the road is my favourite part of Chippy. Pedestrianised Middle Row drops down below the level of the traffic, creating a sheltered sun trap, even in winter. The tables and chairs outside Whistlers Bistro lend a continental feel to the street, which is packed with tiny shops. Gail Savage owns All Dressed Up, a second-hand dress agency selling designer and high-end high street womens clothes. Its the perfect recession-proof business, says Gail, who exchanged a career as a chemistry lecturer for the world of fashion.



Women still want beautiful clothes, and I can help them find exactly what they need, without the high prices. She likens Middle Row to Oxfords Little Clarendon Street, with its boutique shops and busy restaurants. The Cotswold Deli hides out here in Middle Row too, selling artisan cheeses, olives and Bridgewater pottery. And at the end of the street theres no better way to while away an hour than with a tray of tapas on the roof terrace at Bitter and Twisted, a contemporary bar with bar staff in pink shirts and a tempting cocktail menu. Mines a Mojito.



Chipping Norton information


CoCa, West Street, 01608 644372


Wild Thyme, New Street, 01608 645060


Jaffe and Neale, Middle Row, 01608 641033


Chipping Norton Theatre, Spring Street, 01608 642350


Beales, High Street, 01608 645141


Gill & Co, High Street, 01608 641168


Wild at Heart, High Street, 01608 645767


All Dressed Up, Middle Row, 01608 646999


Whistlers, Middle Row, 01608 643363


Cotswold Deli and Cheese Shop, Middle Row, 01608 642843


Bitter and Twisted, Middle Row, 01608 644466


Chipping Norton market trades each Wednesday. The Farmers Market is the third Saturday in the month. For more information about the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, 20-22 April 2012, sign up to the mailing list at www.chiplitfest.com



0 comments

More from Out & about

Yesterday, 15:25

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Yesterday, 14:39

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search