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Old Chippenham railway arches with St Paul's Church in the distance
Joe Buckle - fishmonger and poulterer
Old Chippenham High Street
The Women’s Freedom League (WFL) addressing a good sized crowd in Chippenham Market Place, c1910, during one of their publicity tours by caravan. Watch the play, Oxygen, to learn more. (See below)

Chippenham Timeline

This page gives you a brief overview to the fascinating history of our local area. As the website develops we shall be adding individual pages to each section so you can explore our history in detail. Please check back regularly.

Prehistoric to 1066: Dinosaurs, Romans, Saxons and Vikings

The Chippenham area has a long and fascinating history. The rocks which are found in the area mean that fossils are common. Humans were living around here during prehistoric times, leaving no better evidence than Lanhill long barrow. The Romans built a villa at Truckle Hill and when they left, the Saxon kings had a ‘villa regina’ in the town and left their mark in the names of many local villages. The most notable Saxon connection is with King Alfred the Great as it was at Chippenham where he encountered and fought the Viking King Guthrum. The treaty they concluded is sometimes called the Treaty of Chippenham.







1066 to 1603: Normans, Medieval, Tudors and Elizabethans

Norman and medieval period left their mark with Stanley Abbey and Lacock Abbey. Maud Heath left her causeway for Bremhill villagers to walk ‘dry shod to Chippenham’. Few Tudor buildings remain in the town, when compared to Lacock, but one that does, the Yelde Hall, is wonderfully picturesque. It was the Tudors who granted the town its Charter in 1554.

stanley abbey


queen mary's charter


1603 to 1830: Stuarts and Civil War

The Civil War brought death, destruction and mayhem to the area, with the town changing hands at least eleven times. No major battles were fought here but there were several skirmishes and a siege. In the Georgian period Chippenham prospered greatly from the wool trade. Overseen by Sir Samuel Fludyer the fine buildings the clothiers built gave the town the nickname ‘Little Bath’. But what happened to the one called by Betjamin ‘A poem in masonry’? Chippenham also left its mark on Georgian history in another way, when an election here in 1742 brought down the government.


Civil War

mr whites house


1830 to today, Victorians, Edwardians and the 20th Century

Although situated on the Great West coaching road to Bristol, it was the building of the Wilts & Berks Canal, then Brunel’s GWR, that linked Chippenham to the rest of the country and allowed local agriculture to thrive and flourish in the 19th century. The Chippenham Cheese Market was famous and the cattle market grew to be one of the largest in the country. New industries such as Westinghouse railway works were established too. The growth of the town also brought with it problems. A Sanitary Report of 1870 found Chippenham to be one of the unhealthiest places to live in Britain.



masonic apron


The Great Suffrage Pilgrimage in Chippenham


Like the rest of Britain, Chippenham was involved in both World War I and World War II. Soldiers were billeted here in camps during the First War and the Town Hall became a Red Cross hospital. Local men went off to fight, many never returned. Women took their places in the factories, particularly Westinghouse which was a major munitions supplier in both wars.


Fortunately the town was relatively untouched by bombing during the Second War. One of the few bombs that fell caused more problems when discovered in 1998 than it did at the time. The face of the town has changed drastically since 1945 with many fine old buildings disappearing, none more lamented than the old arched Town Bridge. Even the course of the river has changed.

war memorial

World War I

warships week

World War II


20th Century


Through the links you can discover more about our history and see what we hold in the museum relating to them. Please drop by regularly as we shall continue to add pages as we research further subjects and if you have any information you think is useful please contact us as we would love to make it available to the public.


A Brief History of Chippenham (Town Guide)

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Chippenham Town Council

The Town Hall, High Street

Chippenham, Wiltshire

SN15 3ER
Tel: 01249 446699



Opening Times

Monday - Friday 09.00 – 4.30pm


Closed Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

© Copyright Chippenham Town Council 2015

Website designed and managed by:
Glennie Communications


For sponsorship opportunities contact:

Ian Glennie

Tel: 01249 445778