Chippenham (St. Andrew)

CHIPPENHAM (St. Andrew), a borough, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Chippenham, Chippenham and Calne, and N. divisions of Wilts, 33 miles (N. W. by N.) from Salisbury, and 93 (W.) from London; comprising the tythings of Allington, Nethermore, and Stanley with Studley, and the chapelry of Tytherton-Lucas; and containing 5438 inhabitants, of whom 1875 are in the borough. This place, which derives its name from the Saxon Cyppanham, "a market-town," was of considerable importance during the heptarchy, and is supposed to have been the residence of the West Saxon kings. Ethelwolf, on his return from an excursion against the Welsh, in 853, remained for some time at the place, where he celebrated the marriage of his daughter Ethelswitha with Burhred, King of Mercia. In the reign of Alfred, the Danes, who, after their defeat, had engaged by treaty to quit the kingdom, retreated to this town, of which they obtained possession by treachery; and the English king, after the dispersion of his army, was compelled to seek an asylum in the cottage of a neat-herd. On their subsequent defeat by Alfred, the Danes again took refuge here, where the treaty between that monarch and the Danish prince Guthrum was negotiated.

The town is pleasantly situated on the side of a hill, on the south bank of the Avon. The river here expands into a noble sheet of water, over which, terminating the western extremity of the principal street, is a handsome stone bridge of 22 arches, for the repair of which, and of a stone causeway nearly three miles in length, a considerable estate is vested in the corporation. Chippenham consists of one spacious street, half a mile in length, and well paved, containing many respectable houses, and of several smaller streets: it is lighted with gas, and well supplied with water from the river, by which it is bounded on three sides. In 1834, an act for lighting, watching, paving, and improving the town was obtained. A literary and scientific institution, and a harmonic society consisting of more than 200 members, have been formed. The manufacture of woollen goods, consisting chiefly of the finer broad cloths, and kerseymeres, formerly flourished to a considerable extent; but at present there is only one factory. There are a few grist-mills and tanneries; also a silk-manufactory; and the town is benefited by the trade arising from its situation on the road to Bath and Bristol. The Wilts and Berks canal passes close to it, and the Great Western railway, on which is a station here, passes within a quarter of a mile of the market-place. An act was passed in 1845, for the construction of a railway from near Chippenham to Salisbury and to Weymouth. The market is on Friday: fairs are held on May 17th, June 22nd, Oct. 29th, and Dec. 11th, for horses, cattle, and sheep; and there is also a monthly market for the sale of cattle and cheese. A new market-house has been built.

Chippenham is a borough by prescription. The corporation, under the charter of Queen Mary, which after its surrender to Charles II. was renewed in the reign of James II., consisted of a bailiff, and twelve burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk, sub-bailiff, and subordinate officers; but, by the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the government is now vested in a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, with a town-clerk and others. The county magistrates have jurisdiction in the town. It first sent members to parliament in the reign of Edward I., and made two returns in the reign of Edward II., and four in that of Edward III., from which period it discontinued till the 2nd of Richard II.; after the 12th of that reign it again ceased to make any return till the first of Henry VI., since which time it has regularly sent two members. The right of election was formerly in the resident burgage-holders, but by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the franchise was extended to the £10 householders of an enlarged district, comprising 6710 acres: the mayor is returning officer. The petty-sessions for the division are held here: the powers of the county debt-court of Chippenham, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Chippenham. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13. 19. 4.; net income, £284; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Canons of Christ-Church, Oxford. The church is a spacious building with portions in different styles of English architecture, the tower and spire being in the early style; it contains several interesting monuments. At Tytherton-Lucas is a chapel of ease; and there are places of worship in the town for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists. The union of Chippenham comprises 29 parishes or places, and contains a population of 23,297. At the distance of about two miles is the site of Stanley Abbey, founded in 1154, by the Empress Matilda and Henry II., who removed hither a society of Cistercian monks, established at Lockswell three years previously; its revenue, in the 26th of Henry VIII., was estimated at £222. 19. 4.: there are no visible remains, but fragments are occasionally found. Monkton, the name of an estate on the north bank of the river, seems to indicate the remote existence of some religious establishment, of which no vestige or historical account remains. The ancient forest of Chippenham and Pewsham has been destroyed, although the latter place is still called "the Forest;" the road leading to it from the town is named Woodlane. There are two chalybeate springs in the parish, formerly in great repute; one of them is now occasionally used, but the other is entirely closed up.

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