Chipping Norton


Chipping Norton, at 700ft, is the highest town in Oxfordshire and  regarded as one of the "Gateways" to the Cotswolds. Chipping means market and  for a considerable period the market at 'Norton' was the commercial centre for  the Evenlode valley. When the medieval wool trade made the Cotswolds one of the  wealthiest parts of England, the town assumed new importance as a gathering  place for wool merchants and other traders. Much of the town's attraction today  is due to its many surviving buildings erected during times of great prosperity  in the past. Among these are numerous 18th century houses and a 'wool' church  that is among the finest in the county.

King John granted the town a charter for an annual fair for the sale of wool.  However, the fair, held in September, has been suggested to have an alternative  origin when servants and masters came together to find new positions and  employees. The 'Mop Fair' is now an excuse for fun in the town centre each  September.

The town's most notorious character was James Hird born in 1616. He gained  notoriety as a highwayman surviving until 1652 when he was condemmed for high  treason and executed.

William Bliss is the town's greatest benefactor. By 1816 he had established  the foundation of the town's textile industry using the latest technology of the  industrial revolution. After a fire in 1872 the current mill, a prominent  landmark today, was erected and through various owners remained in production  until its closure in 1980. The mill has now been converted into luxury  apartments and leisure facilities.