• Lucy Lambert

Chipping Norton - Travel Guide

Classed as one of the 'Gateways to the Cotswolds', Chipping Norton is popular amongst locals for day-to-day activities with a host of amenities, doctors surgeries, dentist, essential shops & stores. There is a thriving community, including the usual & mysterious 'knitting bomber' you will notice as you explore, that street furniture has knitted items, poppies on Armistice Day or pumpkins around Halloween. Chipping Norton is located 14 miles South West of Banbury, standing on a West facing slope one constantly feels you are walking up-hill to reach your destination.

Chipping, from the olde-English 'market' gives us an idea of the roots of the towns prosperity. Wool Merchants & Clothiers brought wealth & prosperity to the town. Originally there was a 'motte and bailey' castle, although only the earthworks remain. The centre of the town & it's market square is dominated by the Town Hall (pictured above) on the outskirts, another building which dominates the landscape is 'Bliss Mill', built by William Bliss these exclusive apartments were once part of a successful tweed mill. The chimney of which can be seen from miles around. The building was also used as a image on 'Cadbury's' chocolate bars, perhaps they preferred this picturesque factory to their own. Take a wander through the town & head towards St Mary's Church & you will pass the beautiful Almshouses built for the poor in 1640.

St Mary's Church has an unusual history, the Church tower was replaced in 1825. However, from the previous tower one unfortunate cleric, linked to the Church during the rein of Henry VIII was hanged, to set an example to others. This cleric had refused to use Cranmer's English Prayer Book, an unbelievable fate for a man who served his congregation steadfastly for many years.

The town was also home to the founder of the 'Scouts' a movement created for boys, popular & still strong throughout England. Fred Lewis the founder of the Scouts movement in 1910, looked for games that the boys would enjoy, he came across the rules of baseball, played in the UK since 1890 & Chipping Norton boasted the best baseball team in the country. Local folklore for the town is rife, There is a selection of quirky ghosts that seem to be connected to Chipping Norton. The first is known as the ‘Chipping Norton Shooter’ who is seen crouching & hiding ready to jump out can shoot at unsuspecting visitors. This catches people so much by surprise (as you can imagine) that they are seen how to dive out of the way. Only to find that this bizarre cotswolds mystery phantom disappears in front of their eyes. It seems rather unusual local Cotswolds legend nothing is known about the identity of the phantom and there are no reports of any shootings taking place within Chipping Norton. So it would seem the secrets of this phantom will remain a Cotswolds mystery. Another local legend is to do with an elderly lady known as ‘Gran’ who lived in a cave at a quarry on the outskirts of Chipping Norton. It was said that she kept a hoard of gold sovereigns. No one knows what became of the old lady but they have been several sightings of a ghostly figure in the vicinity of the old quarry, one couple who were admiring the view, near the road junction where the quarry was located were surprised to see a ghostly white figure emerge from the bushes and float across the road before disappearing in the direction of the quarry. The couple did not stick around to find out more about what they had seen & the hoard of gold sovereigns have never been found. Chipping Norton also has accounts of a phantom cyclist, a ghost that likes pulling the toilet chain in a secret cottage, along with a phantom who likes making items disappear. It would seem that many of our Cotswolds market towns have their mysteries & Chipping Norton is no exception.

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