Chipping Norton really is all about the market, a tradition reaching back to the start of the 13th century.
If it wasn’t for the huge popularity of the original town fairs, Chippy might still be called plain old Norton – without the ‘Cheping’ (Chipping) in front, Old English for market.
Way back in 1204, King John granted William Fitzalan, the Lord of the Manor, a charter to hold fairs in the town. These usually happened on religious festivals and could last up to four days.
It was the start of something big. Fitzalan laid out a new market place in 1205, just up the hill from the ‘old town’ where Church Street and Church Lane are today. It covered the entire area now occupied by Market Place, Market Street, Godards Lane, Middle Row, Horse Fair, High Street and Cattle Market.
In 1223, to celebrate the enduring success of the market fair, our town got its name change. ‘Cheping’ – alternatively known as ‘Ceapen’ or ‘Chepying’ (all meaning market) – was popped in front of ‘Norton’ (north town) and Chipping Norton was born.