National Gazetteer (1868) - Chippenham


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"CHIPPENHAM, a parish, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of Chippenham, in the county of Wilts, 10 miles S. of Malmesbury, and 13 N.E. of Bath. It is a station on the Great Western line, and is situated on a bend of the river Avon. This was anciently a seat of the kings of Wessex, and is styled by most ancient writers, Villa Regis. It was here that Ethelwulf, in 853, celebrated the marriage of his daughter Athelswitha with Buthred, King of Mercia; and some years later the town was held by the Danes against King Alfred, who was obliged to seek shelter in Selwood Forest. After the battle of Ethandune, in which the Danes were defeated, Alfred concluded a treaty with their Prince, Guthrun, at Chippenham, by which they agreed to be baptised, and retire to Cirencester.


On the death of Alfred, that monarch bequeathed the lordship and town of Chippenham, with its palace, to his daughter Elfleda. In the Domesday Survey, the manor of Chepeham, or Chippenham, is entered as belonging to Edward the Confessor, and after the Conquest it continued in the possession of the crown. In the reign of Richard II. it had passed to the Hungerfords, who rebuilt the church; and in that of Charles I. it was taxed £30 as ship-money. It had been a market town from the earliest times, as its name implies, being derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Cyppenham, a market-place, but it received its first charter from Queen Mary. It was subsequently incorporated under the Municipal Corporations Act, when the government was vested in a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, with the style of the "bailiff and burgesses of the borough of Chippenham. "The principal employment of the inhabitants is agricultural, but many of the townspeople are engaged in the manufacture of broadcloth and silks. Chippenham is the centre of the North Wilts Agricultural Association, and there is an annual show of cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry.


The town is situated on a declivity on the S. side of the Avon, which is very wide at this place, and has a beautiful stone bridge of 20 arches, with an ornamented balustrade. It is well built, and extends for about half a mile in length, containing a townhall, market-house, two banks, savings bank, and literary institution. In 1834 it was improved under the provisions of an Act for lighting, cleansing, and paving it. There are a few grist-mills and tanneries, and the town is connected by a short branch with the Wilts and Berks canal. It first returned two members to parliament in the reign of Edward I. The limits of the present parliamentary borough are much more extensive than the municipal, the former containing, according to the census of 1861, 1,345 inhabited houses, with a population of 7,075, while the latter comprises 300 houses, inhabited by a population of 1,603. It is also remarkable that while the municipal borough has declined 104 in the decennial period since 1851, the parliamentary has increased 792. The population of the parish of Chippenham is 4,753.


The living is a vicarage* annexed to which is the rectory of Tytherton Lucas, in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford. The parish church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is an ancient edifice in the Gothic style, partly built by the Hungerfords in the 12th century, and has a beautiful spire and peal of eight bells. It contains several brasses and tombs of the Bayntons, Prynnes, &c. The district church, situated near the railway station, stands in the parish of Langley Burrell, and is dedicated to St. Paul. It is an elegant building in the early English style, and was erected in 1555. There are five Dissenting places of worship, two of which are Baptist, the others Independent, Methodist, and Wesleyan. The Roman Catholics also have a chapel.


Here is an endowed school for the sons of freemen, as also National and British schools. The charities produce about £200 per annum. Bowood, the seat of the Marquis of Lansdowne, is not far from the town. In the vicinity were two chalybeate springs, formerly celebrated, but now neglected except by the poorer classes. One has recently been filled up. A paved causeway was constructed by Maud Heath in 1474, from Chippenham Cliff, through the town, to Wick Hill, a distance of 4 miles, at various points of which causeway stones have been erected, each bearing an inscription commemorative of its erection. Friday is market day. Twice in the month the markets are for the sale of cattle and sheep, and once for cheese, of which several thousand tons are sometimes sold. There is also a corn market. Fairs are held for the sale of horses, cattle, and sheep, on the 17th May, 22nd June, 29th October, and 11th December."

"ALLINGTON, a tything in the parish and hundred of Chippenham, in the county of Wilts, lying 2 miles to the N.W. of Chippenham."

"NETHERMORE, a tything in the parish of Chippenham, county Wilts, 2 miles S.E. of Chippenham. It includes the hamlet of Tytherton-Stanley."

"STANLEY, (or Stanleigh With Studley), a tything in the parish of Chippenham, county Wilts, 2 miles E. of Chippenham. It contains ruins of a Cistercian priory, which was brought from Quarr (Isle of Wight) in 1154, by Henry II. At the Dissolution the revenue was valued at £177, and the site was then given to the Baytons."

"STUDLEY, a tything in the parish of Chippenham, county Wilts. It is joined with Stanley."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]