Chippenham, Wiltshire, situated on the River Avon in the Southern Cotswolds region of Britain is the perfect combination of old and new. This cosy town of around 40,000 people is the perfect base for those who wish to explore the historical and natural wonders of this popular region. The town itself has been a settlement even prior to the Roman occupation of Britain and indications are that it was also home to a royal hunting lodge during the rule of Alfred the Great. It is tremendously popular with tourists in part due to its proximity to the M4 motorway, offering easy access from London, Bristol and Swindon.
Those who visit can enjoy a variety of attractions. These include access to venues hosting arts and culture, attractions of historical interest, as well as other attractions that are perfect for families and some exceptional dining opportunities.
However, it is not only ancient history that beckons tourists to the town. Those with an interest in photography will not want to miss the Fox Talbot Museum. It was here that William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) took the first [photogra[hic negative of a mullioned bay window in his ancestral home. Visitors are treated to a variety of exhibits explaining the life of the man, the chemical processes he developed and one of the first cameras which he invented. Around 5 miles outside of the village one finds Bowood House and Gardens. This where Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen here in 1774. In addition, there are numerous Georgian textiles, watercolours, jewellery, miniatures and furnishings from the Victorian period and artefacts that found their way into the Lansdowne family collections from colonial India. The gardens which were designed by famous landscape architect Capability Brown are also a delight.
The Chippenham Museum is also well worth a visit. It is here that the town’s fame as a transport hub is celebrated. The rail, river and road links that brought the town prosperity and the involvement of luminaries such as Alfred the Great and famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The museum also has a variety of exhibits which provide an insight into life in the town during the Anglo-Saxon period. It is the perfect day out for the entire family with interactive exhibits and activities for the younger members of the family.
Taking a trip back in time is made even more exciting and educational for those who visit Lacock Village. Here a four street grid is lined with half-timbered houses and rustic stone cottages that evoke life in times long past. So authentic is the look and feel that it has served as a location for two harry Potter films as well as the series Downton Abbey. More history is available at Castle Combe Village, which is heartbreakingly pretty courtesy (in part) of the famous honey-coloured limestone that is often a feature of older buildings in the Cotswold area. Here, a visit to Castle Combe is highly recommended, if only to view the 14th-century cross that was erected to signify the town’s right to host a weekly market.
However, it is not the only history that will entertain those who visit the town. There are a number of exceptional dining destinations and pubs which will satisfy even the most discerning of gourmands. For those who want an authentic British gastropub experience, the Foxham Inn is hard to beat. The food here is prepared from the freshest of ingredients and a touch of flair – for instance, the ‘Stuffed Saddle of Rabbit with a Truffle Mousse’ is well worth exploring.
In short, Chippenham offers an experience which allows for an exploration of history, combined with modern touches. It is the perfect base for those wishing to explore this part of The U.K.
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