The High Street
Chipping Campden is often labelled the 'flower of the villages of all England'. Though the actual quote is not a modern one it certainly has some claims to that title.
Truly unspoilt, it has many beautiful buildings and an impressive mostly 15th-century church, though bits of it are centuries younger and other pieces older.
The long, curved and flowing main street gives this typical Cotswold market town, born of wool, its shape and style. Nearby is Dovers Hill. Set high above Chipping Campden this was once the site for the Cotswold 'Olympic' Games! Attended by up to 30,000 people in their hey-day, the games were established during the reign of James I by Robert Dover, a local lawyer with anti-Puritan sentiments. Games included such demanding sports as 'shinkicking',and 'jumping in bags', just the thing for that hangover.
I vividly remember seeing this on television and was amazed that, in times of litigation etc., things like this would even take place.
The games were cancelled during the Civil War, re-established with the Restoration of the Monarchy, halted in 1851 by a disapproving local vicar, and again revived in 1951, although at a fraction of their former size. Visitors today can witness the festivities on the first Friday after Whitsun.
Four miles out of Chipping Campden lies Hidcote Manor Gardens, another National Trust property with a delightful series of small gardens, each holding different and rare plants and shrubs. The famous horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnson created the gardens in the early twentieth century. Notable for rare shrubs and trees, and 'old' roses.
Like many English towns, Chipping Campden has its War Memorial in the form of a stone cross. Such crosses were erected to commemorate those who fought and died in WWI, but after WWII many of them began to commemorate also the soldiers and victims of that war. We can just hope the list of casualties of war will not have to be extended any further.
Incidentally, the cross marks the start/finishing point of the famous Cotswold Way from Chipping Campden to Bath, a hundred miles in all, quite a challenge for hikers.
Just a couple of miles south of Chipping Camden is the interesting and picturesque little village of Blockley, often overlooked by its more famous (and prettier) neighbours, Chipping Camden and Broadway. Its worth a detour though as its another Cotswold village with its own character and being set in the bottom of a small valley quite different from the places nearby.
The High Street
The High Street of Chipping Campden is lined with many superb Cotswold stone buildings. Varying in style, they were built by wealthy merchants between the 14th and 17th centuries. At its north end is the 14th century Grevel House, the oldest house in the town, with its beautifully decorated windows, gargoyles and a sundial set in one of the walls. Another building which we did not get to because of the heat. But the other houses are just as beautiful and each is different, representing a great diversity of styles and tastes. Inside there are numerous businesses, many of them continuing the long held traditions of local crafts: potters, jewellers, stonecarvers, silver and gold smiths, builders specialising in traditional Cotswold building and many more.
I think it is because of the heat, which kept people in their houses, that the town looked sleepy and deserted on the day we came. But the people that were there all seemed to know each other, standing in the street exchanging news and gossip, or just saying hello to the passers-by.
The Historical Chipping Camden...
The name Campden or Camperdene is believed to be a Saxon name meaning Valley with Fields...
By the early 13th century, the market area was being called 'Cepynge Caumpedene' (or 'Market Campden'). The word Chipping means market...