Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Rain at Random in Chipping Campden

Monday 5 June 2017. We had left Evesham and are now in a very picturesque market town called Chipping Campden. Unfortunately the rain is still with us too...

In moving from Evesham we have crossed from Worcestershire into Gloucestershire, but so subtle was the crossing that we never even noticed... Chipping Campden is another of the towns built with that lovely honey-coloured Cotswolds limestone.

We passed a little door with worn lettering over it. It reads: "SCHOLA GRAMMATICA 1487 J.F." Despite the date, the building dates back only to the 1620s. The school had been originally founded in the 1400s it is true but probably around 1440. What the significance of 1487 was has been lost. Schooldays were a mere twelve hours long when the school was new.

From the days when recommendation by way of recognition by the Automobile Association was thought to require signs a little more impressive than a small placque on the wall. The A.A. started recognising quality in hotels back in 1908 and introduced the star system a little later in 1912.

As we walked down the high street a woman walked towards us with two dogs. They were just absolutely gorgeous. If there was to be a new film about Enid Blyton's Famous Five then they were the spitting image of illustrator Eileen Soper's Timmy. I couldn't help exclaiming and came away from the encounter with somewhat licked hands... The dogs had joined in too...

I had been hoping to revisit a tiny but haphazardly crammed museum that we saw (on another rainy day) some twenty years ago. I couldn't remember just where it was so we entered the tiny Tourist Information Office just in time to be greeted with a strident clarion call from one of the two staff. "I heard that!" exclaimed the other one jovially, then noticed us and the subject changed suddenly. I explained (as quickly as I could) what we were looking for, but apparently the museum had closed some time ago. A great shame. [cough] Right... we'll be off then...

The High Street has an old market hall, that we will see shortly, which stands on a little island of space between the High Street and a little road that cuts off round the back of the hall rejoining the High Street at the other end. We turned round at this point as the rain was getting harder and Miss Franny had spotted a tea room where we could get shelter and a spot of tiffin.

Chipping Campden market hall. The town was a centre of the wool trade in the Middle Ages. The market hall dates from 1627.

The cobble stones of the floor have worn a little unevenly over the last 500 years but the hall is still as impressive as it must have been in the days when you couldn't move for stalls of balls of Sirdar and knitting patterns with a young Roger Moore modelling cardigans. Who knows what sordid acts people got up to? A sign at one end warns: "No persons shall cause annoyance to others using the market hall by improper acts." There you are... do it proper...!

By this time Miss Franny is standing impatiently outside the Bantam Tea Rooms into which you descend from the High Street by way of a few steps. Hmmm... Perhaps that's why it's called the high street...

Once inside we found a table near the old unused fireplace and were soon getting ourselves around tea and scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Sigh...

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