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One of the oldest towns in England, was originally a Saxon settlement, did not receive any charter of incorporation until 1554, when Queen Mary granted one on May 2nd 1554.

Founded around 600 A.D. (possibly getting its name from Cyppa's - hamm: "an enclosed water meadow owned by Cyppa"maybe a Saxon chief ), it was

Yelde Hall (Town Hall) is around 500 years old

one of the villages in the Saxon Kingdom of Wessex, a royal property along with other local villages: Calne, Bromham, Melksham, Corsham and Warminster.

In the Doomsday Book of 1087 Chippenham has become a Saxon town belonging to the king. The majority of the population working on the land or in flour mills along the river. Saxon kings would occasionally visit to hunt in the surrounding forest. On one recorded visit to attend a wedding at St. Andrew's Church.

By the 12th century, along with other towns and villages, Chippenham was now under Norman rule and had lost most of its royal connections, being divided

War Memorial in the
Market Place

into the Manors of Sheldon, Rowden and Lowden.

During the following centuries the families connected with these Manors greatly influenced Chippenham's history. Gascelyn and Husee ( their family shields make up the Borough Seal) and Hungerford, by the mid -15th century owned all three manors.

The Market Place and High Street were the original settlements. Growing slowly to the south of the river, covering the peninsula of land formed by the tight loop of the River Avon. There would have been a bridge over the Avon, but would have been regularly washed away by floods. A substantial stone bridge was built in the 16th century and Chippenham grew quite rapidly.  

St. Andrews Church, by far the oldest parish church in Chippenham. Originally a Saxon church of which nothing now exists. Of the Norman church however, the chancel arch and one window remain, although moved to another position.

But it was after the railway was built in the 1840's that Chippenham expanded to any great extent to the north of the river.

In the middle ages most industry in Chippenham was connected to the wool trade. Clothiers (considered the gentry) brought in wool by packhorse, handing it over to the spinners and weavers. This cottage industry was transformed in the 18th century when the Waterford Cloth Mill was built. Throughout the West Country the wool industry declined during the early 19th century and the fortunes of Chippenham declined too.

By the 1850's various kinds of engineering works had been established in the town, mainly due to the coming of the railway. Some merged to become Westinghouse. By the Second World War nearly half of Chippenham's workforce was employed in engineering, mostly in Westinghouse who alone employed over 6,000 people at its height. Today, Chippenham is considered a prosperous and expanding town within the "Golden Belt" between London and Bristol is an ideal base for touring.

Chippenham Yelde Hall Chippenham War Memorial St. Andrews Church

51°27'30.6"N 2°06'56.9"W

Chippenham, Coordinates