Chipping Norton, better known as "Chippy" by locals, is a well-known market town in the Cotswolds which has been runner up in the Great British High Street awards for small market town for the last two years. Once the site of a Norman castle, the town is the highest in Oxfordshire and has a number of notable buildings to visit. The Town Hall proudly marks the days when the town was a Borough. It was built in 1842 and used to host the poultry and butter markets on Wednesdays, as well as the Corn Exchange. It was also used for entertainment and auctions and lucky visitors may catch a glimpse of a bride and groom as the hall is licensed for weddings.
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A picturesque row of traditional Cotswold stone cottages can be found in the town which were once almshouses given to Chippy by puritan Henry Cornish. The almshouses are set back from the road and are entered through a grand archway which has elaborate finials and cresting.
Another standout building is Bliss Mill. It dates back to the 1870s and was once used in the manufacturing of wool and tweed for cloth manufacturer William Bliss. The mill was designed to look like a country house, but has the large chimney at one end for which it is recognised. It is now a Grade II listed building and was converted into luxury apartments in the 1980s.
Being a relatively small town, it comes as a surprise to many to find a theatre in Chipping Norton. The team put on an array of productions including theatre, music, comedy and the annual pantomime. As well as live performances, the theatre also screens a range of classic, art house and foreign language films.
Food & Drink
As one of the main market towns in the Cotswolds, Chipping Norton has a wide variety of places to eat and drink, catering for most tastes and budgets. The list below is a small sample, to give a flavour for the various options available:
- Wild Thyme Restaurant (www.wildthymerestaurant.co.uk): Offering exciting modern British food and relaxed friendly service, complemented by three stylish rooms, this is a special place to enjoy great food and wine with family and friends.
- The Chequers (www.chequers-pub.com): The Chequers was built in medieval times at the entrance to the market place and is thought to date back to the late 1500s as a pub, when it was identified by a sign of a blue anchor outside. The main bar is situated amongst four seating areas. In the absence of any electronic games machines, pool tables or juke boxes, the traditional pub styling of yesteryear is recalled. A blazing log fire in the winter creates a cosy atmosphere. There is also a separate restaurant area.
- Whistlers Café Bar & Restaurant (www.whistlersrestaurant.co.uk): The owners of Whistlers are passionate about food and passionate about entertaining. Open during the day as well as for evening meals, Whistlers has a range of breakfasts, through to lighter snacks and lunchtime treats, as well as a great range of hot drinks and cakes to help you while away the hours.
- Café Le Raj (www.cafeleraj.net): A contemporary Indian restaurant, where top quality ingredients and fragrant herbs and spices are used to create sumptuous dishes.
Chipping Norton also has many food shops, ranging from small, family run places, to a Co-op and a Sainsbury's.