Sunday, 27 July 2014

Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden is one of my favourite places in the Cotswolds. I may not live there anymore, nor did I live there throughout my whole childhood, but I have a whole metaphorical memorabilia box full of happy times throughout 10 years of being a 'campdener'.

Plus my Mum and Dad still live there and I pretty much worked in every pub and restaurant at one time or another so I still class myself as a local! 

For those of you who haven't been or heard of the place, Chipping Campden is a small 7th Century market town where wool was famously traded. There isn't a market anymore however, the town is bustling with trade whether it be pubs, restaurants, boutique shops, tea rooms, antiques or even the chap that sells cow hide rugs in the old market place, there is plenty to spend your money on. 

However, as mentioned before in the Millie and Meg blog, myself and Meg met at Chipping Campden school, and although we have 'proper jobs' and therefore an income to spend, we are still nostalgic about some of the places we loved that didn't need a single penny spent on. So this blog post is a mixture of some of my favourite places to go in Chipping Campden with or without money.

I'm going to start the journey with you at the Coneygree, which is a large Cotswold field containing the ruins of the old Manor House. You can actually stay in some of the converted stone buildings, looking out onto the ruins with Landmark Trust. The field has 3 main walking routes through it; Donnington Way, the Heart of England Way and the Monarch’s Way, which we have walked across before, however it was picnics and exploring we used to do as teenagers, which brings back many happy memories. If it is a hot day like today, why not pack a picnic to have here before exploring the town, alternatively if you want to buy one there is a sandwich shop and a deli in the town centre.


St. James' Church holds many happy times for me. It is the heart of Chipping Campden and can be seen from nearly every angle of the town. It is a busy church all year round but Easter and Christmas services are particularly busy, jammed packed with locals and I have fond memories of attending midnight mass at Christmas after seeing friends and family at The Eight Bells. The church is vast inside and is well worth a look. Pop in and take a look yourself but make sure you take a walk through the surrounding gardens too. 

 Just around the corner you'll find what I and many others believe to be the best pub in Campden! The Eight Bells Inn is popular with both locals and guests (staying in their B&B) tourists and passes by. It's cosy in the winter where drinks range from local ales through to mulled wine and hot cider. Alternately in the summer there is a roof top terrace perfect for sitting with a bottle of sparkly and friends.  The Eight Bells was built in the 14th century to house the stonemasons that built St James' Church and it is still chock-a-block with history including a well preserved priest hole and unusual but original framed limericks on the wall.  Neil and Julie, the propieters, have been there for over 10 years and have got this place running to perfection with friendly staff, amazing chefs...shout out to Dean and Vinnie, who take so much pride in their delicious food, good selection of drinks, comfy and cosy B&B and an excellent atmosphere.

A 3 minute work down the high street and you'll find the Ernest Wilson Memorial Garden. Ernest Wilson was born in Chipping Campden and has remained a famous horticulturist in the area. He worked in Kew botanical gardens and travelled to China in the 1800's. Today there is a commemoration garden in his memory where you often find just a few people at a time chilling on the benches.  There are lots of beautiful trees and shaded areas but not many flowers which I always find a small disappointment, however it is a lovely little shaded haven to find a few moments peace and quiet off the high street.

Next a newbie to Chipping Campden. Orchard Layne is by far the largest high street shop in Chipping Campden and my new favourite. Family run by the Wenlock's Orchard Layne was a much needed addition to the town bringing a good mix if affordable and luxury items for yourself and for gifts, transforming the old unused British Legion. You can access the country kitchen styled café through the back of the high street but I like to enter via Little Orchard Layne, their new mini shop on the high street and then down the fairy lit pathway to the main entrance. WARNING| you will not be able to enter without spending! Cakes, jewellery, toys, scarves, crockery, lunch! You've been warned. However of ALL days wondering about on my own I forgot my purse so I purchased nothing...sigh. But we will be back here soon to review their famous pizza's for you. We have only heard good things.

If you like Orchard Layne you'll also like popping into Frankie Doodle, my Nana's firm favourite! However I want to do a separate blog on this place as it has a lovely back story. So watch this space.

There are so many places to have a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the Chipping Campden however I have two favourites. For the summer it has to be the quintessential English tea rooms and B&B, Badgers Hall. Paul and his wife have run this place for years and really know how to bake! They also know the local area very well and provide excellent customer service through their relaxed, homely and welcoming approach. Paul even does some gluten free goodies. They have the most beautiful little courtyard down the side of the building which is an absolute sun trap complete with a gorgeous broken crockery water feature. Obvious choice here is a cream tea, don't be afraid to stay safe with your's a goody!

In the winter though I really love going to the Coffee House inside the Noel Arms. This used to be the smokers bar  part of the hotel but was converted about 6-7 years ago. You can lounge on the sofa in front of the big fire place with a delicious hot chocolate and a selection of cakes or macaroons. HEAVEN!
If you are here for the day with the kids, or if you are big kids yourselves, don't leave without seeking out the famous tea pot and gruesome gargoyle. I won't tell you where they are, that will spoil the fun! 
There is so much more to see and do in Chipping Campden, far too much for one blog post. We'll be back with more soon.
Do you have a favourite place to go in this beautiful market town?
Millie and Meg x

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