The market town of Chippenham is situated midway between Bath and Swindon, in the county of Wiltshire. It has a population of around 40,000. The town has a long history -- an attack there by the Danes in 878 is mentioned in The Anglo Saxon Chronicles. This history can be seen in the mix of old and new in the town, which combines ancient architecture with modern shopping centres.
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Established on a crossing of the River Avon, Chippenham is surrounded by pretty Cotswold villages yet is only a little over an hour from London. The chalk hills of the Marlborough Downs are to the east, the Cotswolds lie to the north and west of the town, and to the south is Salisbury Plain.
The town of Chippenham developed in Saxon times around its marketplace and expanded in the medieval period when the temporary stalls began to be replaced by permanent shops and buildings. Weaving was an important cottage industry in the town at the time, as was the production of cheese. In the 16th to 18th centuries the town saw little growth, but at the end of the 18th century the Wilts and Berks Canal reached Chippenham and a wharf was built. This gave the town access to London and Bristol and saw the expansion of the cloth industry. The arrival of the railways in the mid-nineteenth century further developed trade and industry in the town.
Film and television
The picturesque villages of the Cotswolds are known for their honey-coloured cottages and have attracted interest from the film and television industries. Castle Combe, close to Chippenham, was featured in Stephen Spielberg’s "War Horse." The village of Lacock was used in the BBC’s "Cranford" and "Pride and Prejudice" and was also a location in some of the "Harry Potter" films.
Museum and Heritage Centre
The Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre is situated in a Grade II listed Georgian building. It is home to over 26,000 items relating to the history of the town and the surrounding area. The museum also holds activities and houses temporary exhibitions in the Grade I listed Yelde Hall which dates back to the 15th century.
Pancake races are held in the streets of Chippenham every Shrove Tuesday. On the second May bank holiday the town holds a folk festival. In September the town hosts a beer festival and there is a fishing competition on the River Avon. In October the annual Eddie Cochran Festival is held to remember American singer Eddie Cochran, who died in 1960 following a car accident while travelling through Chippenham. October is also the month in which a Classic Car Rally takes place.
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