Chipping Campden

The jewel in the heart of the Cotswolds

Chipping Campden has just about everything required of a visitor/holiday destination:

  • Campden has its own beauty which the historian G.M. Trevelyan described as “the most beautiful village street now left in the island”.
  • Campden’s historic buildings cover at least 500 years and many continue is use today as shops and eateries.
  • Campden is surrounded by beautiful Cotswold countryside, villages and attractions in every direction.
  • Campden is a good central location from which to reach Banbury Cross, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Hereford, Warwick and Worcester, etc.
  • Campden offers a tremendous range of good accommodation and plenty of places where you can enjoy a variety of delightful meals.
  • Campden has plenty for the more active amongst us by way of a myriad of linking local walks as well as being the northern end of The Cotswold Way.
  • Campden has plenty of gentle lanes and a variety of climbs for the cyclist.
  • Campden is within easy reach of the M5, M6, M42 and M40 and The Cotswold (railway) Line from Paddington, Birmingham Airport and the Midlands.

About Chipping Campden

Brief Origin

Chipping Campden’s name originates from the Saxon ‘campa’ ‘denu’ is an accurate description as the meaning is literally ‘a valley with cultivated fields ringed by unfenced hill pastures’. The word ‘Chipping’ meaning ‘market’, was not added until much later when the town had a market.

There local evidence of a stone age village in Weston Wood, a Roman grave at at Kingcombe and vineyard on the slopes of Dovers Hill, the Kiftsgate Stone stands on the “moot” site where local tribes met to discuss matters, from Saxon times in St James Church, the butresses on the Town Hall and a small barn in Westington. Little more is known about Campden before the Norman Conquest and the Domesday Book recorded a population of about 300.

The Lord of the Manor, Hugh de Gondeville was granted a market charter by King Henry II in 1185 and set out the plan of the town with the main street following level ground by the River Cam, a curve that helps to make the High Street and its regular plots of land called burgages to be occupied for a fee by craftsmen, traders and others providing services to the community.

The wool trade and its wealthy merchants brought prosperity to Chipping Campden and saw the building of St James Church, The Almhouses, Old Campden House, Greville House, Woolstaplers Hall and the iconic Market Hall, all of which you can still see today.

The fingerboard sign installed on the A44 at Cross Hands by the Izod family demonstrates that right through until the introduction of the railway; Chipping Campden was a critically important junction/resting stop on the road from everywhere to anywhere, particularly between Warwick and Gloster, and Woster and Oxford for several hundred years.

Today’s roadways have removed this vital need and Chipping Campden is now often  referred to as “the hidden gem or jewel of the Cotswolds on the road from nowhere to everywhere”.

Things to See and Do in Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden Alms Houses

Gabled, mullioned and hoodmoulded, these almshouses display the Cotswold vernacular at its best. They were built at a total cost of £1300 in 1612 by Sir Baptist Hicks, a wealthy benefactor to Chipping Campden and ancestor of the Earls of Gainsborough.

Guild of Handicraft

Chipping Campden has important links with the Arts and Crafts movement. In 1902, C.R. Ashbee set up his Guild of Handicrafts workshop in the old silk mill in Sheep Street.It now contains the last family business from those days -Harts Silversmith’s, where you can see them working in the original surroundings. It also has The Campden Coffee Co., The Gallery at the Guild, and Caroline Richardson – a Jeweller.

Court Barn Museum

Court Barn Museum is a project of the Guild of Handicraft Trust, and tells the story of craft and design in the north Cotswolds. The background to this story is the transformation of English life by industrialisation in the nineteenth century. The Arts and Crafts movement at the end of the century reacted in favour of older, simpler ways of making, and C. R. Ashbee set up his craft workshop, the Guild of Handicraft, in East London in 1888.

St. James' Church

One of the most beautiful landmarks of Chipping Campden is the grand early perpendicular wool church of St James, with its medieval altar frontals (c.1500), cope (c.1400) and vast and extravagant 17th century monuments to local wealthy silk merchant Sir Baptist Hicks and his family.

Campden High Street

The long and windy High Street of Chipping Campden is one of the most beautiful in the Cotswolds.  With a wealth of history and architecture mostly built in Cotswold stone, the High Street is riddled with history, heritage and intrigue.  The High Street is located close to the river which lends itself to a natural curve giving the High Street a romantic curve and clear views of the historic builldings along the street.