Campden, Chipping (St. James)

CAMPDEN, CHIPPING (St. James), a parish, in the union of Shipston, Upper division of the hundred of Kiftsgate, E. division of the county of Gloucester; containing, with the hamlets of Berrington, Broad Campden, and Westington with Combe, 2087 inhabitants, of whom 1521 are in the market-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. In 689, a congress of the Saxon chiefs, confederated for the conquest of Britain, was held here. 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; but on the emigration of the Flemings, who settled in England, and introduced the manufacture of woollencloth, Campden lost its trade with Flanders, and its importance from that time rapidly declined. Sir Baptist Hickes erected a magnificent mansion here in the fifteenth century, which cost £29,000, and, with the offices, occupied a site of eight acres; and 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 by hills richly wooded, and consists principally of one street, nearly a mile in length; 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. On Dover Hill, about a mile from the town, athletic exercises, in imitation of the Olympic games, were instituted in the reign of James I., by Robert Dover, and were resorted to by the nobility and gentry resident in the adjacent country; prizes were awarded to such as excelled in the games, which were continued until the time of the commonwealth. The manufacture of silk and rugs is carried on. In 1845 an act was passed for the construction of a railway from Oxford, by Chipping-Campden, to Wolverhampton. The market is on Wednesday; and 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, and fourteen capital and twelve inferior burgesses, who had power to hold a court of session, and a court of record for pleas and debts limited to £6. 13. 4.; but the charter has fallen into disuse, and though the bailiffs are still appointed on the Wednesday before New Michaelmas-day, they exercise no authority. A court leet is held once a year, in a court-house situated nearly in the centre of the street.

The living is a vicarage, endowed with two-thirds of the great tithes of the parish of Winfrith-Newburgh, in the county of Dorset, and valued in the king's books at £20. 6. 8.; net income, £640; patron and impropriator, the Earl of Gainsborough. The tithes of Campden were commuted for land and a money payment, in 1799. The church, 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 lofty tower: some portions of the finely-carved oak roof are still preserved in the north aisle, but in other instances the beauty and character of the interior have been defaced by modern alterations and repairs. It contains monuments to the memory of Sir Baptist Hickes, first Viscount Campden; Noel, Earl of Gainsborough; and other distinguished persons. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyans. The free grammar school was founded in 1487, and endowed by 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, and which in 1627 was vested in trustees. It has an interest in eight scholarships established in Pembroke College, Oxford, by George Townsend, by will dated in 1682, for boys from the schools of Gloucester, Cheltenham, Campden, and Northleach. A Blue school for girls was endowed with £1000 by James Thynne, Esq.; and there is a national school for boys, which has been incorporated with an ancient foundation by George Townsend. Almshouses for six aged men and the same number of women were endowed by the first Viscount Campden, who rebuilt the market-house, and during his life gave £10,000 for charitable uses; he died in 1629. George Ballard, author of Memoirs of Learned British Ladies, was a native of Campden. There are some petrifying springs in the neighbourhood.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.