A visitor’s guide to Chipping Norton
PUBLISHED: 15:17 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 01 April 2020
We’ve assembled a guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Chipping Norton, sponsored by
Move here for...
And get: A double bay fronted house on New Street, ripe for an update but with many original period features. It has a graceful sweep of stairs, huge bedrooms, a large garden and an outbuilding studio-workshop.
Eat at: The Chequers (01608 644717)
Why? Whether you come in for bar snacks, a small plate of light bites or a classic sirloin steak, this Goddard Lane is perfect for a pre-theatre gathering or a pie and a pint.
Drink at: The Blue Boar (02034 370891)
Why? Characterful and traditional, and licensed in 1663, the Blue Boar of this pub’s emblem signifies the De Vere family avenging the confiscation of their lands by trampling King Richard III’s white boar.
Stay at: The Crown and Cushion (01608 642533)
Why? This 15th century High Street hotel has its own health club and spa, and was once owned by rock star Keith Moon, the drummer in The Who.
The 13th century weekly market that gave Chipping Norton its ancient name (Chipping means market) and the monthly farmers’ market are two of the attractions that link this hillside town to its roots. But stepping into the 21st century, Chippy, as it’s known, has a town-run award-winning eco-heated Lido, and plans are in place for a church-led hub with a focus on youth and community in what was once a high street bank. It should be no surprise, then, that Chipping Norton has national awards for its community and shops, aided by such famous names as Jaffé & Neale and the monthly hyper-local Chippy News that brings issues, events and opinions to the fore.
Like many a Cotswold town Chipping Norton’s historic wealth was built on the wool trade, and its golden streets are rich with Grade I and Grade II listed buildings and architecture. One of the best ways to view these gems, including those with quirky tales attached, is to follow the newly created Chipping Norton Town History Trail. St Mary’s is considered among the Cotswolds’ finest churches, and Bliss Tweed Mill, a local landmark with a chimney stack redolent of Tuscan columns, was designed as a textiles factory, masquerading as a country house retreat. In a twist of fate, it is now private apartments.
Once the domain of rich merchants, Chipping Norton has become known for its smart city set of rural second-homers whose barn parties make headlines. But the vibrant Chipping Norton community keep its lights un-dimmed week in and week out.
Most noted for... being the highest town in the Cotswolds. It stands at more than 200m above sea level.
While you’re here... visit the gravestone of 104-year-old Phillis, a rat-catcher’s wife laid to rest in St Mary’s churchyard. She died in 1703, having lived in three centuries!
But try not to... miss Chippy’s famous Theatre. The building was once a Salvation Army citadel and now it’s a playhouse, gallery, cinema and concert venue. (01608 642349)
Who’s who... former British Prime Minister David Cameron lives locally, world record ocean rower Janice Meek, Prison Break star Wentworth Miller and motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson also have connections with Chipping Norton. New Street recording studio has drawn bands such as the Bay City Rollers, Status Quo, Duran Duran and Radiohead to its doors – all commemorated with a blue plaque. Another blue plaque pays tribute to “aspirin man” Edward Stone, a Chipping Norton vicar who first made scientific notes about the effects of willow bark. Royalist highwayman James Hind, who was hanged in 1652, and sometime resident Sarah Wildes, hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, are among the town’s notorious former residents.
Chippy’s summer season comedy festival schedule includes Alistair McGowan, Mark Watson and former policeman Alfie Moore plus a series of funny films and stage shows. The literary and music festivals are among Chipping Norton’s annual highlights so if you’ve missed 2020’s line-ups, make a date with the town in spring 2021. ChipLitFest included appearances by novelist Marian Keyes, queen of vintage style Cath Kidston, journalists India Knight and Pete Paphides, chef Prue Leith, broadcaster James Naughtie, and palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke, among many others.
The Rollright Stones
According to legend you’ll get a different total every time you try to count the mysterious Rollright Stones, just outside Chipping Norton. Steeped in local lore, and dating back to 3800-3600BC, the Whispering Knights, Neolithic portal dolmen, are the oldest of the ancient monoliths, while the King’s Men are considered Bronze Age.