Oxfordshire A Glorious County. Chipping Norton.

One of the places featured in the book Oxfordshire A Glorious County is Chipping Norton.

Chipping Norton is in the north west corner of the county near the Gloucestershire border and describes itself as a ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’. It is the highest town in the county and St Mary’s church is one of the finest Oxfordshire churches

It was a centre for the wool trade in the fifteenth century and the importance of the Cotswold wool trade is reflected in Chipping Norton’s Parish Church, and the wide market place has grand buildings which are unusual for a small town.

The Holy Trinity Guild founded a Grammar School in 1450. The guild also built the Guildhall.

In 1607 James I granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation. The Free Borough had two bailiffs, and twelve burgesses governing the town.

Among notable people to be found in the town’s history are The Rev Edward Stone and Rev Henry Joyce.

In 1549 Henry Joyce, the parish priest, was hanged from St Mary’s church tower for his role in a local revolt against the replacement of the old Latin service book with the new Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

The Rev Edward Stone is remembered for discovering the active ingredient in Aspirin. A local story said that bark from willow trees had a juice which could ease fevers and rheumatics. He tested the theory, and this later resulted in the production of Aspirin.

Alderman Wilkins has the unique distinction of being the only English Mayor in the year of Queen Victoria’s Accession to the Throne in 1837 and also in her Golden Jubilee Year in 1887.

The Old Post Office in West Street now houses the Headquarters of the Vintage Sports-Car Club which was formed in 1934.

In the High Street the Crown and Cushion is now a hotel. This building was once a private home at the beginning of the seventeenth century and an inn called The Crown. Its name later changed to the Katherine Wheel, and eventually to its present name. It was once owned by Keith Moon from the group ‘The Who’.

The Theatre Chipping Norton in Spring Lane was a Salvation Army Citadel in 1888. Its foundation stones were laid by Commandant Herbert Booth. The Salvation Army moved out in the 1960’s and the building became a furniture store. In 1968 John and Tamara Malcolm of the Royal Shakespeare Company realised its potential and it was transformed into the theatre.

In Church Street a row of Almshouses are set back from the road behind a stone wall. They were built here in 1640 for eight poor widows by Henry Cornish. Arthur Mee in his book Kings England, Oxfordshire’ described them as ‘one of the most delightful pieces of architecture in a town rich with such rare craftsmanship’. They have an inscription which reads ‘The gift of Henry Cornish, Gent 1640’. The almshouses were built from Cotswold stone.

Chipping Norton is a Cotswold town with a variety of delightful buildings and streets.

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