This month’s Hometown Tour Guide is Jessica from The Weekend Tourist. Here’s what she has to say about her hometown….
What is the name of your hometown and where is it?
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire – United Kingdom
What, if anything, is your hometown famous for?
Chipping Norton or ‘Chippy’, as it’s known locally, is the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds – a really idyllic and picturesque area of English countryside. It’s the sort of thing that’s featured on postcards and the scenery is also used as the backdrop to one of the pages in the new UK passport.
It’s also known for the ‘Chipping Norton Set’ which are a group of local celebs and media people, headed by our former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who lives nearby in the hamlet of Dean. The Chipping Norton set also includes the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, former Top Gear presenter; Alex James, Blur bassist and now Cheese fanatic; as well as former News of the World editor, Rebekah Brookes.
For a full interactive map of the who’s who, there’s a good one on the Daily Telegraph website.
The top 5 attractions are:-
- Bourton on the Water – A proper Cotswold town. With its stream running through the centre, it’s great in the summer for a paddle, an ice cream or a cream tea. It’s also home to Birdland, the model village and the heritage motor museum.
- Hook Norton Brewery – The only Victorian brewery in the country still running, its’ beer is still delivered locally by horse and carriage also known as a dray.
- Chipping Norton Theatre – Is a great local theatre that sees everyone from Michel Macintyre to community productions.
- Great Rollright Stones are definitely worth a visit. This local prehistoric land mark is embroiled in legends involving greedy kings, trusty knights and evil witches.
- Cotswold Wildlife Park – A good day out with the family, it has a great selection of animals from penguins to exotic reptiles and near to Bourton on the Water.
Bonus tip! Stratford upon Avon and Shakespeare’s Birthplace is also only a half hour drive away from Chipping Norton.
Are there any local sports teams? Where do they play?
Chipping Norton does have a number of local sports teams. The Chipping Norton Town Swifts Football Club are popular football team for the Under 15’s as well as the Chipping Norton Rugby Union Football Club.
However not many towns can boast that they have there own Aunt Sally league. Aunty Sally is a traditional throwing game played across Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. A dolly (a ball attached to short plinth) is placed on a rotating metal post, known as the iron, and players get six attempts to knock off the dolly with batons without hitting the iron. It’s a bit similar to a coconut shy!
The Chipping Norton Invitation Aunt Sally league was formed in the 1960s and is still going strong, it has 17 teams from the local area involving 170+ people. The season starts when the weather gets warmer between April and September and league games are played every Thursday and cup games on Monday nights at pubs around the Chippy district. Check out the full fixtures list.
My 3 favourite restaurants are:-
- The Chipping Norton Tea Set – (not to be confused with The Chipping Norton Set) This is an amazing vintage tea shop serving afternoon teas on three tiered stands.
- Whistlers is worth a visit for freshly baked Pizza before taking in a show at the Chipping Norton Theatre.
- The Kingham Plough – Ran by Heston Blumenthal’s protégé, Emily Watkins, this is the hot gastro pub of the Cotswolds.
My 3 favourite bars/pubs are:-
- Bitter & Twisted – An excellent hot pink cocktail bar where you can buy reasonably priced alcoholic creations and interesting and tasty bar food. Definitely book a table and is very popular after work. The happy hour is between 5 – 7 and they have Prosecco on tap. I would recommend the Carrot Cake cocktail.
- The Chequers in Churchill – We recently had our Christmas party here and where sat next to former Prime Minister, David Cameron, excellent choice of hearty dishes – the triple baked cheese soufflé is a particular favourite.
- Tickittyshake – This is not a bar in the traditional sense, but Chippy’s only shake shop is super popular all year round serving delicious milkshakes, smoothies and hot chocolates. You’ll see the striped blue and white cups all over town.
Top 3 Hotels are:-
- The Maytime Inn is 30 minute drive away from Chipping Norton in the village of Asthall. It’s a really lovely boutique hotel with 10 or 11 rooms but it’s right in the heart of the Cotswolds.
- The Fox – I want to put this in the bar, restaurant and hotel category! It’s recently had a £1 million refurbishment by the Hook Norton Brewery, who manage this pub and hotel directly. You can sample a wide selection of the Brewery’s specialities here to and they do the best burger in Chipping Norton.
- The Castle at Edge Hill – This pub offers rooms at the top of its’ turret, giving guests a panoramic view of Edge Hill where the famous civil war battle took place.
Why do you love your hometown?
Chipping Norton offers the best of both worlds – it’s in the heart of country, yet with the select amenities of the bigger towns. It’s true, with exception of a pair of pants, you can get pretty much get everything you need in one place. It also has the added advantage of being in the heart of this fantastic area of outstanding natural beauty – the Cotswolds, which means pretty much in whatever direction you drive you’re looking at a spectacular painting – worthy of Turner himself.
Who should visit your hometown?
Chipping Norton is an ideal base for exploring the Cotswolds – so ideal for romantic couple breaks or family holidays discovering the nearby attractions. It’s also no secret that the Cotswolds is a favourite of the more mature tourist.
Best time of year to visit (weather):
The weather is always doing something different in Chipping Norton. For a proper Christmassy feel then I’d suggest visiting in early December when the town is lined with Christmas trees suspended from the roof of every shop. Or for warmer weather anytime between April and September – there’s always something going on.
Language spoken: English
Currency: British Sterling (£)