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Chippenham, Wiltshire

Historical Description

Chippenham, a municipal borough and important market-town, head of a poor law union, and a county court in Wilts. The town stands on the river Avon, the Berks and Wilts Canal, and the G.W.R., 94 miles from London, and 12 NE by E of Bath. It was a seat of the Wessex kings; was the place of Alfred's court both before and after his defeat of the Danes; was the headquarters of the Danes during his retirement to Selwood Forest; and belonged at Domesday to the Crown. A causeway was made through it in 1474 by Maud Heath from Chippenham Cliff to Wick Hill, a distance of 4 miles, and is marked at intervals with upright inscribed stones. The surrounding country is rich, and abounds with tine seats. Two chalybeate springs are in the vicinity, and pipes from one of them to the town were laid in 1865. The town occupies a slope, includes a main street of considerable length, and has of late years been much improved. A stone bridge of 22 arches spans the Avon, and is a fine feature. The town-hall is a modern structure, built at a cost of £12,000, by the late Joseph Neeld, Esq., of Grittleton House, and thrice extended at an additional cost of £5000. The cheese market presents a frontage of 50 feet, and has a covered area of 15,500 feet. The parish church is variously of the Norman, Early Decorated, and Perpendicular styles. It includes a very curious chapel with memorials of the Hunger-fords, has a tower with a spire and a fine peal of eight bells, contains a curious monument of 1627 to Sir Gilbert Prynne, and was very thoroughly repaired and enlarged in 1878 at a cost of about £7000. The living is a discharged vicarage, with the rectory of Tytherton Lucas annexed, in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol; joint value, £198, in the gift of Christ Church, Oxford. There is a large mission chapel in the part of the parish called Lowden, also several dissenting places of worship, a Roman Catholic chapel dedicated to St Mary, a free school, a literary institution, a fine temperance hall of 1863, a head post office, a workhouse, two banks, and three chief inns. The institute is a fine building of stone, erected in 1889 in commemoration of the Queen's Jubilee. The town has an excellent supply of water. A weekly market is held on Friday, and fairs on 17 May, 22 June, 29 Oct., and 11 Dec. A large market for cheese, corn, and cattle is held on the second Friday of each month; for cattle only on the last Friday. There are a large cloth factory, an Anglo-Swiss condensed milk factory, bacon curing factory, a churn factory, and many charities. The town is a borough by prescription, sent two members to Parliament till 1867, afterwards only one, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act in 1885 it was disfranchised, and now forms part of the north-western division of the county. It is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. John Scott, the author of the " Christian Life," and Lodowick Muggleton, the founder of the sect of Muggletonians, were natives. Sir Robert Peel was one of the M.P.'s for Chippenham for a short time in the early days of his parliamentary life. Area of the parish, 6489 acres; population of the civil parish, 5392; of St Paul's ecclesiastical, 1413. The parish includes Allington, Stanley, and Studley tithings, and: Tytherton-Lucas chapelry. St Paul's is a separate ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1855 out of the parishes of Chippenham, Hardenhuish, Kington St Michael, and Langley Burrell, The Church of St Paul is a building of stone in the Gothic-style. The living is a rectory; net value, £160. Patron,. The Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.

Chippenham Parliamentary Division, or North West Wiltshire, was formed under the Redistribution of Seats. Act, 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 44,358. The division includes the following: —Calne —Blackland, Bowood, Bremhill, Calne, Cal-stone, Cherhill, Compton Bassett, Heddington, Highway,. Hillmarton (part of), Yatesbury; Chippenham —Avon, Bid-destone (St Nicholas), Biddcstone (St Peter), Box, Castle-Combe, Chippenham, Christian Malford, Cline Pypard (part of —Bupton), Colerne, Corsham, Dittcridge, Draycot Cernc,. Grittleton, Hardenhuish, Hillmarton (part —Catcombe), Hul-lavington (part —Surrendall), Kington Langley, Kington (St Michael), Lacock, Langley Burrell, Leigh-de-la-Mere, Little-ton Drew, Luckington, Nettleton, North Wraxall, Pewsham, Seagry, Slaughterford, Stanton (St Quintin), Sutton Benger, Tytherton Kelways, West Kington, Yatton Keynell; Malmes-bury —Alderton, Ashley, Bremilham, Brinkworth, Brocken-borough, Charlton, Crudwell, Dauntsey, Easton Grey, Foxley,. Garsdon, Hankerton, Hullavington (part of), Kemble, Lea,. Long Newnton, Malmesbury Abbey, Malmesbury (St Paul), Malmesbury (St Mary, or Westport), Minty, Norton, Oaksey,. Poole Keynes, Sherston (Magna), Sherston (Parva or Pinck-ney), Somerford (Magna), Somerford (Parva), Sopworth.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWiltshire 
Ecclesiastical parishChippenham St. Andrew 
Poor Law unionChippenham 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The register of St. Andrew dates from the year 1578.

The register St. Paul's dates from the year 1855.

Findmypast, in association with the Wiltshire Record Office, have the following parish records online for Chippenham:



Church of England

St. Andrew (parish church)

The parish church of St. Andrew is an ancient structure, in the Norman, Early Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave of five bays, aisles, three chapels, west and south porches, and a western tower, with spire, containing 8 bells and an illuminated clock with chimes: the lower part of the tower is Early English, and the upper stage was rebuilt about 1700 in a debased Perpendicular style: the Hungerford or Lady chapel contains various memorials of that family, and has been restored, at a cost of £400, so as to serve for the week day services; another of the chapels, dedicated to St. Catherine, is now used as a baptistery: in the south aisle is a monument to Sir Gilbert Prynne (1627) and his family: the church was enlarged and restored in 1878 at a cost of £6,759, and in 1907 a vestry was added at a cost of £1,300: there are 1,200 sittings.

St. Paul (parish church)

The church of St. Paul, situated near the railway station, and erected in 1855, is a building of stone, in the Gothic style of the 14th century, and consists of chancel, clerestoried nave of six bays, aisles, and a western tower with spire 176 feet high and containing clock, with chimes, and 8 bells: several of the windows are stained: there are sittings for 800 people.

St. Peter, Lowdon

The church of St. Peter, Lowdon, is a Chapel of Ease to the parish church.


Baptist Chapel, High Street
Baptist Chapel, New Road


Plymouth Brethren Meeting House, Station Hill


Congregational Chapel, Emery Lane

The Congregational chapel, Emery lane, founded in 1750, was renovated in 1889, at a cost of £300, and affords 500 sittings.


Primitive Methodist Chapel, Causeway

The Primitive Methodist chapel, in the Causeway, later used as a Sunday school, was erected in 1834; a new chapel was erected in front of the old one, and has 450 sittings.

Primitive Methodist Chapel, Sheldon Road

The Primitive Methodist chapel, in Sheldon road, erected in 1901, had 250 sittings.

Wesleyan Chapel, Monkton Hill

The Weselyan chapel, Monkton hill, erected in 1909, will seat 550.

Roman Catholic

St. Mary, St. Mary's Place

The Catholic church, dedicated to St. Mary, and erected in 1855, has 70 sittings.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Chippenham from the following:


Online maps of Chippenham are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Wiltshire papers online:

RegionSouth West
Postal districtSN15
Post TownChippenham