This popular Cotswold town was once an important centre for the wool industry. At around 650ft (200m) above sea level, it is the highest town in Oxfordshire.
The town and surrounding area contains a number of old Victorian textile mills, an indicator of its former industry and prosperity. Many have now been converted into offices or housing. The unusually ornate Bliss Tweed Mill, built in 1872 by George Woodhouse, lies to the west of the town. Its large chimney was a smokestack for the steam engines that once powered the mill's machinery. The last working mill in the area, it closed in 1980 and was converted into residential apartments.
Today, Chipping Norton is a bustling market town with regular street markets and a thriving shopping centre, offering a wide choice of independent shops and restaurants. There is also a museum, a leisure centre and a small theatre; noted for its pantomimes. The heart of the town is its busy Market Square, dominated by a handsome 19th-c Town Hall, with a Tuscan style portico. Also worth seeing is the Grade II listed 16th-c Guildhall, in Middle Row, now used as the council offices and a visitor information point.
The parish church of Saint Mary's, features an unusual hexagonal porch, with a vaulted ceiling. A number of fine brasses and interesting tombs can be found within. On the lane leading up to the church is a row of splendid stone built almshouses, circa 1640. Also, located beyond the churchyard is the remains of a motte-and-bailey earthworks, dating from the Norman period.
The town museum, located on the High Street, has displays covering the history of the local area since Saxon times.
Location: 4 High
Street, Westgate, 4 High Street, Chipping Norton OX7
Tel: 01608 641712