Chipping Campden

Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

CAMPDEN (CHIPPING), a parish in the upper division of the hundred of KIFTSGATE, county of GLOUCESTER, comprising the market-town of Chipping-Campden, and the hamlets of Berrington, Broad Campden, and Wessington with Combe, and containing 1798 inhabitants, of which number, 1249 are in the town of Chipping-Campden, 29 miles (N.E. by E.) from Gloucester, and 90 (N.W. by W.) from London. This place, which is of very great antiquity, is supposed to have derived its name from an encampment formed prior to a battle between the Mercians and the West Saxons; or perhaps, with more probability, from a congress of the Saxon chiefs confederated for the conquest of Britain, that took place here in the year 687. In the fourteenth century it became noted as a staple town for wool, and. was the residence of many opulent merchants, who exported a great quantity of that article to Flanders.

On the emigration of the Flemings, who settled in England, and introduced the manufacture of woollen cloth, Campden lost its trade with Flanders, and its importance from that time rapidly declined. Sir Baptist Hicks erected a magnificent mansion here in the fifteenth, century, which, at the commencement of the civil war in the reign of Charles I., its loyal owner demolished, to prevent its being garrisoned for the parliamentarians. The town is pleasantly situated in a fertile vale surrounded with hills richly wooded, and consists principally, of one street, nearly a mile in length, neither paved nor lighted: the houses are in general ancient, and some of them fine specimens of the style of domestic architecture prevailing about the time of Elizabeth: the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from numerous springs: the environs abound with fine scenery.

On Dover Hill, about a mile from the town, is still preserved, on the Thursday in Whitsuntide, some memorial of an ancient celebration of athletic exercises, instituted in the reign of James I. by Robert Dover, which was resorted to by the nobility and gentry resident in the surrounding country; prizes were awarded to such as excelled in the games, which were continued until the time of the Commonwealth, when they were suppressed. The manufacture of silk and rugs is carried on.

The market is on Wednesday: fairs are held on Ash-Wednesday, April 23rd, August. 5th, and December 11th. In the 3rd of James I., Campden received a charter of incorporation, by which the government was vested in two bailiffs, a steward, twelve capital and twelve inferior burgesses, who had power to hold a court of session, and a court of record for the recovery of small debts; but the charter has been forfeited from neglect, and though the bailiffs are still appointed annually on the Wednesday before New Michaelmas-day, they exercise no local authority: a court leet is held once a year: the town is wholly within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates. The court-house is situated nearly in the centre of the street, but possesses no claim to architectural description.

The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, rated in the king's books at £20. 6. 8., and in the patronage of Lord Barham. The church, dedicated to St. James, and situated to the north of the town, in the hamlet of Berrington, is a spacious and handsome structure in the decorated style of English architecture, with a fine lofty tower, having lateral and angular buttresses, and crowned with pierced battlements and crocketed pinnacles: at the western angle of the north aisle is a circular turret, with a low dome, and at the western angle of the south aisle is an octangular turret, with a corresponding dome in some portions of the finely carved oak roof are still preserved in the north aisle, but in some instances the beauty and character of the interior have been defaced by modern alterations and repairs. It contains some beautiful sepulchral monuments to the memory of Sir Baptist Hicks, first Viscount Campden; Noel, Earl of Gainsborough; and other distinguished persons. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists.

The free grammar school was founded in 1487 and endowed by Mr. John Fereby, or Verbey, with a moiety of the manor of Lynham in Oxfordshire; but, owing to mismanagement, the estate was sold, and another purchased, producing only £60 per annum, which, by a decree of Chancery in 1627, was vested in trustees for the maintenance of a master and an usher, who teach from thirty to forty boys: it has an interest in eight scholarships founded in Pembroke College, Oxford, by George Townsend, Esq., by will dated in 1682, for boys from the schools of Gloucester, Cheltenham, Chipping-Campden, and North Leach, whereby he ordained also that scholars on his foundation should be appointed to his donatives of Uxbridge and Colnbrook.

A charity school, for clothing and instructing thirty girls, was endowed with £1000 by James Thynne, Esq. Almshouses, for six aged men and the same number of women, were founded and endowed by Baptist, Lord Hicks, the first Viscount Campden, who rebuilt the market-house, and during his life gave £10,000 for charitable uses; he died in 1629, and was buried in the south aisle of the church. George Ballard, author of the Memoirs of learned British Ladies, was a native of Campden: he died at Oxford, in 1755. There are some petrifying springs in the neighbourhood.

BERRINGTON, a hamlet in the parish of CHIPPING-CAMPDEN, upper division of the hundred of KIFTSGATE, county of GLOUCESTER, containing 171 inhabitants.

CAMPDEN (BROAD), a hamlet in the parish of CHIPPING-CAMPDEN, upper division of the hundred of KIFTSGATE, county of GLOUCESTER, 1 mile (S.E.) from Chipping-Campden, containing 250 inhabitants.

WESSINGTON, a hamlet, joint with Combe, in the parish of CHIPPING-CAMPDEN, upper division of the hundred of KIFTSGATE, county of GLOUCESTER, f a mile (S.) from Chipping-Campden, containing, with Combe, 128 inhabitants.

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