Chipping Norton

This article is about the town in Oxfordshire, UK. For the suburb of Sydney, Australia, see Chipping Norton, New South Wales.
Chipping Norton
Chippy [1]

Town centre,
Town Hall on the left
Chipping Norton
 Chipping Norton shown within Oxfordshire
Population 6,337 (2011 Census)
OS grid referenceSP309269
    London  74 12 miles (120 km) 
Civil parishChipping Norton
DistrictWest Oxfordshire
Shire countyOxfordshire
RegionSouth East
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town Chipping Norton
Postcode district OX7
Dialling code 01608
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK ParliamentWitney
WebsiteChipping Norton Town Council
List of places

Coordinates: 51°56′N 1°33′W / 51.94°N 1.55°W / 51.94; -1.55

Chipping Norton is a market town and civil parish in the Cotswold Hills in the West Oxfordshire district of Oxfordshire, England, about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Banbury and 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Oxford. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 6,337.[2]



St Mary the Virgin parish church, rebuilt circa 1485

The Rollright Stones, a stone circle 2.5 miles (4 km) north of Chipping Norton, is evidence of prehistoric habitation in the area.

The town's name means 'market north town', with "Chipping" (from Old English cēping) meaning 'market'. Chipping Norton began as a small settlement at the foot of a hill on which stand the motte-and-bailey Chipping Norton Castle. Only the earthworks of the castle remain.

The Church of England parish church of St. Mary the Virgin was built on the hill next to the castle. Parts of the present building may date from the 12th century.[3] It retains features from the 13th and 14th centuries.[4] The nave was largely rebuilt in about 1485 with a Perpendicular Gothic clerestory.[5] This rebuilding is believed to have been funded by John Ashfield, a wool merchant, making St. Mary's an example of a "wool church".[5]

In July 1549 the vicar of Chipping Norton, Henry Joyes or Joyce, led parishioners in a popular rising after the suppression of chantries and other religious reforms left him to minister alone to a congregation of 800, and reduced the budget for schooling.[6] The rising was brutally put down by Lord Grey de Wilton; Joyes was captured and subsequently hanged in chains from the tower of his own church.[7]

The bell tower was rebuilt in 1825.[3][8] The tower has a ring of eight bells, all of which were cast in 1907[9] by Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. St Mary's has also a Sanctus bell cast in 1624 by Roger I Purdue[9] of Bristol.[10]

In the Middle Ages wool made the Cotswolds one of the wealthiest parts of England. Many mediaeval buildings built in the town as a result of that trade survive. They became the centre of town and remain so. There is still a market every Wednesday and the mop fair in September. In 1205 a new market place was laid out higher up the hill. Sheep farming was largely displaced by arable but agriculture remained important in this part of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Many of the original houses around the market place were re-faced in the 18th century with fashionable Georgian facades.

Chipping Norton Almshouses, founded in 1640

An inscription on the almshouses records that they were founded in 1640 as "The work and gift of Henry Cornish, gent".[11]


In 1796 James and William Hitchman founded Hitchman's Brewery in West Street. In 1849 the business built a larger brewery in Albion Street that included a malthouse and its own water wells. Three generations of Hitchmans ran the brewery, but in 1890 Alfred Hitchman sold the business as a limited company. The new company grew by buying other breweries in 1891 and 1917. In 1924 it merged with Hunt Edmunds of Banbury, and in 1931 Hunt Edmunds Hitchmans closed the brewery in Chipping Norton.[12]

Other industries in the town included a wool mill (see below), a glove-making factory, a tannery and an iron foundry.

Chipping Norton had a workhouse by the 1770s. In 1836 the architect George Wilkinson built a new, larger workhouse. It had four wings radiating from an octagonal central building, similar to Witney workhouse, which Wilkinson also was buil . The architect G. E. Street added a chapel to Chipping Norton workhouse in 1856–57. It ceased to be a workhouse in 1929 and became a hospital in the Second World War. The National Health Service took it over in 1948, making it Cotshill Hospital which later served as a psychiatric hospital. The hospital closed in 1983.[13] and has since been redeveloped as private residences.

Chipping Norton Town Hall, built in 1842

Chipping Norton was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. Its neoclassical town hall was built in 1842.

Holy Trinity Roman Catholic church is also neoclassical. It was built in 1836 by the architect John Adey Repton, a grandson of the English garden designer Humphry Repton.

Chipping Norton railway station, opened in 1855, pictured here in the early 1900s

The Chipping Norton Railway opened in 1855, linking the town with Kingham on the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway.[14] In 1887 a second railway opened, linking Chipping Norton to the Oxford and Rugby Railway at King's Sutton, and the CNR became part of the resulting Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway. Extending the railway from Chipping Norton involved digging a tunnel 685 yards (626 m) long[15] under Elmsfield Farm west of town.

In 1951, British Railways withdrew passenger services between Chipping Norton and Banbury. In 1962 BR closed Chipping Norton railway station and withdrew passenger services between Chipping Norton and Kingham. In 1964 BR closed the B&CDR to freight and dismantled the line. The disused railway tunnel is bricked at both ends, for safety and to protect any bats inside. (See Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)

Bliss Mill, built in 1872

In May 1873 rioting took place following the conviction and sentencing of the Ascott Martyrs, 16 local women accused of trying to interfere with strikebreakers at a farm.

Bliss Tweed Mill, on the west of town, was built as a tweed mill by William Bliss in 1872. In 1913 to 1914 the millworkers struck for eight months. The mill closed in 1980 and has been converted into flats. It remains a landmark, visible from Worcester Road.

The town lost its status as a municipal borough in 1974, when the Local Government Act 1972 made it a successor parish within the district of West Oxfordshire.


Chipping Norton is in the Witney parliamentary constituency. The Member of Parliament for Witney from 2001 to 2016 was David Cameron, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2016 and the leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to 2016. The town is part of the South East England constituency for the European Parliament. One Conservative councillor and two Labour councillors represent the town on West Oxfordshire District Council holding all three seats available, making it the least Conservative part of the Prime Minister's constituency.[16]


The town is a retail and leisure centre for its area, with a supermarket and numerous shops including branches of national chain stores. It has public houses and a theatre.[17]

The town has three schools. Holy Trinity Roman Catholic School[18] and St Mary's Church of England School[19] are primary schools. Chipping Norton School[20] is the town's secondary school and has a sixth form.

Chipping Norton Golf Club is the oldest in Oxfordshire. The course was started in 1890 on Chipping Norton Common.[21]

Chipping Norton Rugby Union Football Club[22] first XV plays in the Southern Counties North League and was league champion for 2007–2008 . Chipping Norton Town F.C. (known as 'the magpies' or 'Chippy') play at Walterbush Road and were founded in 1893. They used to play in the Hellenic Football League but resigned and now play in the Witney & District Football League.[23] Chipping Norton Town Cricket Club plays in Oxfordshire Cricket Association Division 6. The town also has a bowls club.[24]

Chipping Norton has a Women's Institute,[25] a Rotary Club,[26] and a Lions Club.[27]

The town also hosts a number of annual arts festivals: Chipping Norton Literary Festival ('ChipLitFest'),[28] Chipping Norton Music Festival,[29] and Chippy Jazz and Music ('CJAM').[30]

The Theatre Chipping Norton opened in 1975 in a converted Salvation Army citadel, and is a theatre, cinema, gallery and music venue. It hosts original productions and touring companies.[31]


Recording studio

The former British Schools building at 28–30 New Street, subsequently Chipping Norton Recording Studios

Between 1972 and 1999 the former British Schools building in New Street was Chipping Norton Recording Studios. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, In The Army Now by Status Quo, Too Shy by Kajagoogoo, I Should Have Known Better by Jim Diamond, Perfect by Fairground Attraction, I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight by Cutting Crew and Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers were all recorded here. Jeff Beck, Barbara Dickson, Duran Duran, Marianne Faithfull, Alison Moyet, Nektar, Radiohead, The Supernaturals, Wet Wet Wet and XTC were also clients.


Chipping Norton Castle was a timber Norman motte and bailey castle which stood to the north west of the town. Very little of the original structures remain apart from earthworks.[32]


Until 1962 Chipping Norton railway station served the town. Now the nearest stations are at Kingham and Ascott-under-Wychwood.

Chipping Norton set

Main article: Chipping Norton set

A group of media, political and show-business acquaintances who have homes in and around Chipping Norton, including David Cameron whose constituency home is in nearby Dean, are referred to in the media as the "Chipping Norton set".[33][34][35] Members of the Chipping Norton set regularly met socially. The group gained notoriety in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal, which directly involved a number of its members.[36] Those members affected, along with several attendees of their social functions, were victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.[34] Notable meetings of the group have included Rebekah and Charlie Brooks's wedding reception near Chipping Norton, a 2010 Christmas dinner at the Brooks's, and Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud's 2011 Summer party at Burford Priory.

Notable residents

This list includes notable persons who were born or have lived in Chipping Norton.


Chipping Norton is twinned with Magny-en-Vexin in France.

See also


  1. Else, David. England. Lonely Planet. p. 243.
  2. "Area: Chipping Norton (Parish): Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  3. 1 2 Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 536.
  4. Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, pp. 536–538.
  5. 1 2 Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 537.
  6. Beer, Rebellion and Riot, Kent State UP, p.150
  7. A. Vere Woodman, "The Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Rising of 1549", Oxoniensia, XXII, 82-83
  8. Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin Archived 23 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. 1 2 Hedgcock, James (30 November 2006). "Chipping Norton S Mary V". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  10. Dovemaster (25 June 2010). "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  11. Sherwood & Pevsner 1974, p. 540.
  12. Hitchman's Brewery history. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  13. Cotshill Hospital history. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  14. "page 1". Railway Tunnel Lengths website. Phil Deaves. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  15. Councillor information: West Oxfordshire District Council. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  16. The Theatre, Chipping Norton. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  17. Holy Trinity RC School. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  18. St Mary's C of E School. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  19. Chipping Norton School. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  20. Chipping Norton Golf Club: History Archived 11 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. Chipping Norton RUFC. (2011-08-10). Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  22. Chipping Norton Town FC. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  23. Chipping Norton Bowls Club. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  24. Oxfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  25. Chipping Norton Rotary Club. Retrieved on 24 August 2011.
  26. "Chipping Norton Lions - Welcome". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  27. "ChipLitFest is back for 2016! · Chipping Norton Literary Festival 2017". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  28. "Chipping Norton Music Festival Home Page". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  29. Favis-Mortlock, David. "Chippy Jazz And Music (CJAM) - a friendly little gem of a jazz festival!". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  30. "Brief history of the theatre". The Theatre Chipping Norton. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  31. Philip Davies. "Chipping Norton Castle".
  32. Dewar, Caroline (5 March 2012). "Who's who in the Chipping Norton set?". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  33. 1 2 Jennifer Cockerell (2012-09-27). "'Big society' makes it into Brewer's Dictionary". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-10-07.
  34. Tom Watson; Martin Hickman (19 April 2012). Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain. Penguin Books. pp. 111–. ISBN 978-0-241-96105-6. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  35. Caroline Dewar (2012-03-05). "Who's who in the Chipping Norton set". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  36. "Margaretha – den hemliga prinsessan".
  37. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-17.


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Chipping Norton.
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