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Back of Nestles - Bath Road - - 944241.jpg
The River Avon at the back of old Nestles on Bath Road
Area 158.42 km2 (61.17 sq mi)
Population 45,337 
• Density 286/km2 (740/sq mi)
OS grid reference ST919733
• London 101 mi (163 km)
Unitary authority
  • Wiltshire
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SN14, SN15
Dialling code 01249
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • Chippenham
List of places
WiltshireCoordinates: 51°27′31″N 2°06′57″W / 51.4585°N 2.1158°W / 51.4585; -2.1158

Chippenham is an historic market town in Wiltshire, England, 13 miles (21 km) east of Bath and 96 miles (154 km) west of London. In the 2011 census, the Chippenham community area's population was recorded at 45,337, and the built up area of Chippenham had a population of 35,800

The town was established on a crossing of the River Avon and some form of settlement is believed to have existed there since before Roman times. It was a royal vill, and probably a royal hunting lodge, under Alfred the Great. The primary school, King's Lodge School, gets its name from this tradition.

The town continued to grow when the Great Western Railway arrived in 1841. The town is now a commuter town.

Chippenham is twinned with La Flèche in France and Friedberg in Germany.

The town's motto is Unity and Loyalty.



Chippenham is in western Wiltshire, at a prominent crossing of the River Avon, between the Marlborough Downs to the east, the southern Cotswolds to the north and west and Salisbury Plain to the southeast.

The town is surrounded by sparsely populated countryside and there are several woodlands in or very near the town, such as Bird's Marsh, Vincients Wood and Briars Wood.


Suburbs include Cepen Park (North & South), Hardenhuish, Monkton, Lowden, Pewsham, Primrose Hill, Englands, Frogwell, Derriads, The Folly, Redland, Queens Crescent, Lackham, Fenway Park, and Hill Rise, loosely corresponding to local government wards.


British Railways Western Region station totem for Chippenham
British Railways "totem" sign for Chippenham station.
Brunel's railway viaduct with High Street to rear

Chippenham lies 4 miles south of the M4 motorway, which links the town to Bristol, Swindon, South Wales and London. The A4 former coach road, A420 and B4069 provide further road links to Bath, Bristol and Oxford. The town is bypassed to the west by the A350, which links the M4 motorway with Chippenham and nearby towns to the south, such as Melksham, Warminster and Trowbridge. The A4 national route crosses the southern part of the town, linking Chippenham to nearby Corsham, Calne, and Bath. Local councillors have called for an eastern extension linking the A4 to the A350 north of Cepen Park although this has been opposed by many residents. Dualling work on a 2-mile / 3 km stretch of the A350 eastern bypass commenced in January 2015 from Cepen Park North through to the A4, which is scheduled for completion in 2017. Two shorter single carriageway sections of the A350 from just south of the Plough crossroads to Cepen Park North were both converted to dual carriageway between October 2014 and March 2015.

Chippenham has a bus station with several routes and companies serving it. These Include Stagecoach with the route 55 to Swindon, First West of England with the 231 to Bath, Faresaver with the X31 to Bath, X34 to Trowbridge & Frome as well as several other local routes, Coachstyle with the 92 to Malmesbury. APLtravel with the 33 to Devizes.

Chippenham railway station is on the Great Western Main Line and is served by services between London Paddington and the West Country via Bristol Temple Meads or Swindon, and is famous for its railway arches and other buildings engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as part of the Great Western Railway development. It is served by main line services and a smaller service to Southampton Central via Melksham, Westbury and Salisbury. It is being electrified to make train times faster from London to the West Country. National Express Coach services connect at Chippenham to London, Wales, South West England, the Midlands and East Anglia. Bus services connect the town to Bristol, Bath, Corsham, Calne, Frome, Devizes, Trowbridge, Swindon and nearby villages.


The Buttercross today

The original Buttercross, a stone structure, was erected in c. 1570 and stood at the centre of the Shambles, at the current location of Barclays Bank. It was used for the sale of meat and dairy products. In 1889, Mr E.C. Lowndes bought the Buttercross for £6 and re-erected it as a gazebo in the kitchen garden of the Castle Combe Manor House, where it subsequently fell into disrepair. The Buttercross was re-erected in 1995 by the Chippenham Civic Society, funded by many local people and organisations. It currently stands as the centre-piece of the pedestrianised area of the town centre, where a market is held each Friday and Saturday.

The Yelde Hall is one of very few remaining medieval timber framed buildings in the town. It was originally divided up internally for use as a market hall. Both the hall and its meeting room upstairs were used by the burgess and bailiff for a variety of meetings and trials as well as for Council meetings. The space under the Council Chamber was used as the town gaol. After the Council and Burgess (now Mayor) moved to the Town Hall, on the High Street, in 1841, the hall had various uses:

  • Chippenham Savings Bank
  • Chippenham Volunteer Rifle Corps (stationed in Chippenham from 1846 to 1911)
  • Chippenham Fire Station (from around 1910 until 1945 when they moved to their current location in Dallas Road). This led to substantial changes to the interior structure to accommodate the engines and the addition of two large doors to the end gable.
  • Chippenham Museum (the Borough Council started work on this in the 1950s but the museum did not open until 25 October 1963. The museum outgrew the site and closed in this location in 1999.
  • North Wiltshire Tourist Information Centre (from 2003 following substantial restorations)
  • An extension of Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre (from 2012)
Town arms from 1776 on the Yelde Hall

Bird's Marsh

Bird's Marsh is a woodland of about 24 hectares (59 acres), to the north of the town. It is home to many kinds of wildlife, and a popular place for walkers, due to its fairly large size and surrounding countryside. One way into Bird's Marsh is through a field close to the Morrisons supermarket, just south of the roundabout on the A350 (Malmesbury Road). There are also access points off Hill Corner Road (via fields) and Jacksom's Lane. Although not actually a marsh, the ground can be very boggy off the well-marked paths; this has protected the area from housing development.

In 2008, developers made a planning enquiry about building 800 homes around the Bird's Marsh area.

In 2012, developers won the right to build on this area, despite fierce opposition from resident groups.

In 2013, after nearly five years of campaigning, the protesters achieved partial success.


Climate data for Lyneham:
Average maximum and minimum temperatures, and average rainfall recorded between 1971 and 2000 by the Met Office.
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.6
Average low °C (°F) 1.2
Rainfall mm (inches) 70.1
Avg. precipitation days 17 15 13 13 13 14 15 14 14 15 17 17 177
Sunshine hours 31 56 93 130 186 180 186 150 120 93 60 31 1,316
Source: Met Office

Population and demography

Changes in population 1801–2001

Chippenham's population has grown rapidly in recent years to 28,065 (2001 census)[out of date], an increase of 11% from the 1991 figure of 25,376. This rapid expansion can be attributed to the development of large housing estates (indeed, entirely new suburbs) such as the large Cepen Park district to the west of the town, and the Pewsham development to the east (Pewsham is also the name of a small village just to the east of Chippenham). By 2007 the figure had reached 34,820. Further housing developments also progressed, though on a smaller scale. Council projections for 2009 estimated a population of 42,060, the actual figure was 43,880. Projections for 2012 estimated a population of 44,820, and would have made Chippenham the highest town population in Wiltshire, with the exception of Swindon (which is no longer within the administrative county of Wiltshire), and thus larger than Salisbury. The 2011 census revealed this figure to also have been exceeded, the census also predicts, using a trend-based projection, by 2026, a total mid-year population of 49,340.



The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the town as Cippanhamme: this could refer to Cippa who had his Hamm, an enclosure in a river meadow. An alternative theory suggests that the name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ceap, meaning market. The name is recorded variously as Cippanhamm (878), Cepen (1042), Cheppeham (1155), Chippenham (1227), Shippenham (1319) and Chippyngham (1541). In John Speed's map of Wiltshire (1611), the name is spelt both "Chippenham" (for the hundred) and "Chipnam" (for the town). (There is another Chippenham, Cambridgeshire as well as Cippenham, Berkshire near Slough.) From Chapman's harbour. It might share toponomy with Copenhagen (København – "Market harbour". Older name: Køpmannæhafn, "Chapman's Harbour" ). In Swedish, Köpenhamn (pronounced "Shopenham"). In Norwegian, Kjøpenhavn (Pronounced "Shiopenhavn")

Earliest settlement

There are believed to have been settlements in the Chippenham region since before Roman times. Remains of Romano-British settlements are visible in the wall behind the former magistrates' court and recent redevelopments of the town have shown up other evidence of early settlements.

Early Medieval

The town proper was believed to have been founded by Anglo-Saxons around AD 600. In AD 853, Æthelswith (sister to Alfred the Great) married King Burgred of Mercia at Chippenham. Alfred was then a boy of four and the wedding was held on the site of St Andrew's church. According to Bishop Asser's Life of King Alfred, Chippenham was, under Alfred's reign, a royal vill; historians have also argued, from its proximity to the royal forests at Melksham and Barden, that it was probably a hunting lodge. Alfred's daughter was also married in Chippenham.

Danish Vikings successfully besieged Chippenham in 878, though Alfred escaped. Later that year, at the Battle of Ethandun, Alfred decisively defeated the Danes, whose forces then surrendered to Alfred at Chippenham (ushering in the establishment of the Danelaw).

In 1042 the Royal holding in Chippenham makes mention of a church. The Domesday Book listed Chippenham as "Cepen", with a population of 600 to 700 in 1086.

High and Late Medieval

In Norman times the Royal properties were separated into the manors of Sheldon, Rowden and Lowden. Records show that the town expanded into Langstret (now the Causeway) from 1245 onwards, and in 1406 onwards the town pushed into Le Newstret (now the New Road area of town). Throughout this period Chippenham continued to have a thriving market in the town centre.

A map of Chippenham from 1773

The A4 that runs through Chippenham incorporates parts of the 14th century medieval road network that linked London to Bristol. This was an important road for the English cloth trade, and so its upkeep was funded in part by Bristol cloth merchants.

Chippenham was represented in the Parliament of England from 1295 onwards, and Queen Mary granted the town a Charter of Incorporation in 1554.

Analysis of the wood used to build the Yelde Hall indicates that the market hall was built after 1458. The Shambles and Buttercross were built after 1570. The Shambles were destroyed in a fire in 1856 and the Yelde Hall survived.

The parish of Chippenham Without encompasses the deserted medieval village of Sheldon, devastated by plague; all that remains today is Sheldon Manor, Wiltshire's oldest inhabited manor house, dating from 1282.

16th to 18th centuries

The wool industry took off in the 16th century, partly due to the river. The plague hit the town hard in 1611 and 1636. This, a recession in the woollen industry, and a drop in corn production in 1622 and 1623, caused massive hardship for the town's population. The trade in cloth faced further problems during the English Civil War due to a Royalist proclamation that prohibited the sale of cloth to the Parliamentarian-controlled London.

In 1747 a bribery and corruption scandal (involving two members of parliament for Chippenham) led to the downfall of Sir Robert Walpole's government.

An OS map of Chippenham from 1896

19th and 20th centuries

A spur to Chippenham off the Wilts & Berks Canal was built in 1798, with a wharf at the current site of the bus station (Timber Street). The main commodity traded was coal. Pewsham Way now follows the line of the old canal. The Great Western Railway arrived in Chippenham in 1841, and in turn attracted many new businesses to Chippenham. The arrival of these businesses required new housing which led to the expansion of Chippenham into the land north of the railway line, which in turn led to the growth of further industries to support the building work.

The arrival of the railway promoted the growth of industrial agricultural businesses. In the middle of the 19th century Chippenham was a major centre for the production of dairy and ham products; this led, later, to Nestle and Matteson's having factories in the town centre. The railway also led to the growth of railway engineering works in Chippenham. The first of these was Roland Brotherhood in 1842.

An OS map of Chippenham from 1946

A variety of companies then took over part or all of the business on the site, until in 1935 Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company Ltd took over the business site fully. The signalling side of the business remains at the Chippenham site and is now owned by Siemens Rail Automation Group; the brakes business was taken over by the German company Knorr-Bremse, and is based at a site in nearby Melksham.

On 17 April 1960, American singers Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, and songwriter Sharon Sheeley, were involved in a car crash in Chippenham at Rowden Hill. Cochran died as a result of his injuries and a memorial plaque was erected near the site. Each year Chippenham hosts an Eddie Cochran festival (see below).

On 13 February 1998, two unexploded bombs from World War II were discovered in the field behind Hardens Mead during preparations for the building of Abbeyfield School. About 1,100 residents in the east of Chippenham had to be evacuated for two nights until the Army carried out a controlled explosion. The Army initially tried to defuse the larger 750 kg (1,650 lb) device, but it was decided that owing to the bomb's orientation in the ground this would be too dangerous.


Surrounding the town are a number of stone-built villages, including Lacock (National Trust), Biddestone, Bremhill, and Castle Combe. The great house and art treasures of Longleat, Bowood House, Lacock Abbey, Sheldon Manor and Corsham Court are within easy reach. Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre is in the town centre and tells the story of the market town.

Twinned towns

Chippenham is twinned with La Flèche in France and Friedberg in Germany.

La Flèche lies on the banks of the Loir, 42 km (26 mi) from Le Mans and 72 km (45 mi) from Tours. Set amongst woods and farmland, La Flèche has various recreational facilities including a zoological park. Le Prytane Militaire public school dates back to the time of King Henry IV of France, and La Flèche has the status of a University Town. In 1630, people from La Flèche founded Montreal in Canada.

Friedberg is 64 km (40 mi) from Munich and the Bavarian Alps. Duke Ludwig the severe and his nephew Conradin founded the town in 1264. The town hall follows the architectural style of Elias Holl's Town Hall, built in 1674, in neighbouring Augsburg. Friedberg is a walled town, with many sporting and cultural events such as the 17th century Street Festival.


Rag Morris at Chippenham
Chippenham Folk festival

The Chippenham Folk Festival takes place every year, usually over the Whitsuntide weekend.

The town holds an annual festival in remembrance of American rock and roll singer Eddie Cochran, who died on 17 April 1960 following a car accident in Chippenham on his way back to London during a tour. Singer Gene Vincent and songwriter Sharon Sheeley survived the accident.

From 1963 the Town Museum was housed in the Yelde Hall. By 1999 it had outgrown the site and moved to the former Magistrates' Court in the Market Place (opened on 23 March 2000). The museum charts the history of the town from Neolithic times until today. By 2005, the museum had attracted over 90,000 visitors.

Sport and leisure

CTSC Pavillion + Tennis court
Chippenham Sports Club Pavilion

Chippenham is well served with sports clubs and leisure facilities. The Olympiad Centre opened in 1989, replacing an outdoor pool which had closed in 1988. It caters for a wide range of interests and has a variety of swimming pools and full gym facilities. It also hosts events including the popular annual CAMRA Beer Festival.

Chippenham Sports Club, on the A420 Bristol Road, is a members' sports club. Its facilities include a two-storey pavilion that overlooks the six hard-surface floodlit tennis courts and the cricket square and field. The all-weather hockey pitches are used by ladies' and men's teams. The Dome, an inflatable, all year round, indoor sports dome, provides amenities including netball, cricket nets and a five-a-side football league. Chippenham Town Bowls Club, with its own pavilion, is on the same site.

Chippenham has two football clubs, Chippenham Town F.C. and Chippenham Park F.C.. Chippenham Town was formed in 1873, and played in the FA Vase 2000 Final, when they lost 1–0 to Deal Town F.C. They currently play in the Southern Premier League. Chippenham Park F.C. was formed in 2012 and play at Hardenhuish Park for the first team and Stanley Park for the reserves. Both Park teams currently play in the Wiltshire Football League.

Chippenham United F.C., formed in 1905, played for twelve seasons in the Wiltshire Football League after World War II, but folded in 1962.

Chippenham Rugby Club is on the western outskirts alongside the A350 bypass. Chippenham Golf Club is situated on the A350 as it leads north from the town towards the M4. The club, formed in 1896, has a new clubhouse and redeveloped course opened in 2012.

Chippenham has a small cinema, the Reel Astoria, on the A420 Marshfield Road, to the west of the town centre.

The Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 403 passes through the town.

There is a variety of nightlife in the town, including nightclubs, wine bars, and a mixture of modern and traditionally styled pubs.


In the 2001 census, 73.2% of the population in Chippenham Parish defined themselves as Christian, 17.3% said they were of no religion and 8% did not state a religion.

In the 2011 census, 59.6% of the population in Chippenham Parish defined themselves as Christian, 31.1% said they were of no religion and 7.3% did not state a religion.

St Andrew's Chippenham
St Andrew's church, viewed from the Market Place.

Church of England

  • St Andrew's parish church is believed to have been built on the site of an Anglo Saxon church. Many features of the present church are Norman (with the chancel arch being completed in c.1120). There are a wide variety of features on the different facets of the church. The church spire was completed in 1633 although the 8 bells currently present were not added until 1734 and the back-lit clock and chimes in 1858. The organ has a case front dating from the 18th century. The church registers date from 1578. There was a Victorian era restoration of the interior of the church in 1875–1878 and again in the 1990s.
St Paul's Chippenham
St Paul's church
  • St. Nicholas church was built in 1779 and replaced an older medieval church that had previously stood on the same Hardenhuish site. The church was designed by John Wood, the Younger of Bath. The church registers date from 1730.
  • St. Paul's church was built in 1854–55 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and was consecrated on 18 April 1855 and has registers dating from that time.
  • St. Peter's original build started in 1885 and opened on 19 November 1886 as a stone and red brick building. The church was replaced by the current church in 1968. The newer St Peter's is a modern design six-sided design, originally with a copper roof (now tiled) and a fibre glass spire and no internal supports.

Roman Catholic

  • Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church, originally built in Saint Mary's Place in 1855. The new church was built in 1935 on Station Hill, replacing the original on 29 February 1936.


London Road Cemetery, Chippenham
London Road Cemetery gate
  • Central Methodist church was built in 1909 to mark the centenary of Methodism in Chippenham. It was originally called Monkton Hill Methodist Church but was renamed after it joined parishes with that of Primitive Methodist Chapel, The Causeway which closed in the late 1980s.
  • Christian Science Society Church
  • Elim Pentecostal Church
  • Emmanuel Evangelical Church was founded in April 2005, and meets at Hardenhuish School on Sundays and other locations during the week. It is affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.
  • Ladyfield Evangelical Church is also affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.
  • Oasis Church was founded April 2004 by Pastors Ralph and Heather Burden of the Assemblies of God. It focuses on younger worshippers, meeting on Saturday evenings and featuring rock music. The Oasis concept grew from a Los Angeles bible study group, which had singer Donna Summer among its members.
  • The Old Baptist Chapel opened on 10 June 1804 but was not registered until 1810. The internal baptistry was added in 1818.
  • The Salvation Army Citadel was originally opened in 1903 in Bath Road but the building was later sold to Pictons, after which the Salvation Army moved into the Co-op hall in Foghamshire. November 2012 saw the building re-open as The Citadel Hall.
  • Sheldon Road Methodist Church was built in 1901.
  • Station Hill Baptist Chapel was built in 1855.
  • Tabernacle United Reformed Church was built in 1770, replaced in 1826, and refitted in 1889. The church had substantial internal renovations in the 1990s.
Closed churches
  • Cepen Park Methodist Church held services in two local schools and closed in 2005.
  • Primitive Methodist Chapel, The Causeway opened in 1896 replacing an older chapel on the same site. The older chapel is believed to have been built in around 1835 and still stands to the rear of the newer building (and served as a school room for it). It closed in the late 1980s although the buildings remain.

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