The History of the Charter
Exhibition by the Chipping NortonHistorical Research Group

Chipping Norton Museum 8 April 28 Oct. Tues. Sat. 2-4pm. 1, Children free at Museum
St. Marys Church 4 April 28 Oct. Daily 9.30am - dusk no charge
Unlawful Assembly Community promenade play

hrough the streets of
Chipping Norton

Fri. 21 April

7.30pm 6, conc 3 Theatre Box Office
Sat. 22 April . 2.30 & 7.30pm 6, conc 3

Grand Re-enactment

Procession of Bailiffs & Burgesses from Guildhall

Sun. 23 April 10am.

17th century Civic Service St. Marys Church

Sun. 23 April 10.45am 12.15

Merrymaking-Charter Ale
Town Hall/Market Place

Sun. 23 April 12 noon 2.30pm.

Music in Country Churches

Ysaye QuartetBeethoven & Schubert
St. Marys Church
Fri. 26 May 7.30pm. 5,12,

Box Office

from 3rd April
English Chamber Orchestra & Maria Joao PiresMusic by Holloway, Mozart & Haydn
St. Marys Church
Sat. 27 May 7.30pm. 7,16,

In the presence of HRH Prince of Wales

The Pocket Dream - A farcical fantasia on A MidsummerNights Dream

The Nortonians
in the Town Hall

2/3 June
The Sound and the Stone The medieval church & its music

Tim Porter
St. Marys Church

Wed. 7 June 7.30pm 6 to include wine The Bookshop

Beer Festival

Chipping Norton
Rugby Club Greystones
Sat. 17 June all day
Rotary Car Day
Burford Rd.
Sun. 2 July all day
Chipping Norton Games - Sports for all the family FULL PROGRAMME HERE
Various venues 15/16 July all weekend

Mostly free 1 climbing wall3 skateboarding

Town Hall from 24 June
Rotary Jazz Day

Various venues

Sun. 10 Sept. all day free

Charter Lectures by OUDCE

Reformation & Rebellion at Chipping Norton: David Eddershaw
St. Marys Church
Tues. 3
7.30pm Theatre Box Office
Six Silver Spoons & the Secondbest Bed: Dr. Adrienne Rosen
Town Hall
Tues. 10 October 7.30pm Theatre Box Office
Hidden Houses: David Clark Town Hall Tues. 17 October 7.30pm Theatre Box Office
Chipping Norton & its Charter:
Dr. Adrienne Rosen

Town Hall
Tues. 24 October 7.30pm Theatre Box Office
Chipping Norton in a Time of Trouble: Ralph Mann
Town Hall
Tues. 31 October 7.30pm Theatre Box Office
Horticultural Society Evening with Chris Beardshaw
Town Hall Wed. 18 Oct. 7.30pm. 10 The Bookshop
The Potting Shed

The Oxford Waits

Music and tales of the 17th century with period costume & instruments
Town Hall
Wed. 13 December 7.30pm 12 to include wine

The Bookshop

Chipping Norton Music Festival

Various musical events plus17th century ceilidh 9 20 March 2007

The letter "J" in the elegant logo - designed by Jan Cliffe - stands for James 1st who granted the town its charter 400 years ago. The next twelve months are special - a time to celebrate our history but also to look forward to a confident future. There's a big programme of events planned - masterminded by Gina Burrows and her Charter Committee. We'll keep you up to date with what's happening as the year goes on. For starters, take a look at the CHARTER PAGE and get up to speed with with some background history. Everything kicks off on April 21st with performances of a community play - "Unlawful Assembly" - being staged by The Theatre using actors from the Youth Theatre. It will have three performances, on the Friday and Saturday evenings (21st and 22nd April) and a matinee on the Saturday (22nd April) afternoon.The play will start in The Theatre and proceed to St Marys church, along Distons Lane up to the Town Hall and thence up to Blissfield Gardens. On St George's Day 23rd April there will be a Grand Re-Enactment of the procession of the Bailiffs and Burgesses of the newly chartered and incorporated town of Chipping Norton from the Guildhall to the church. There will be a service in the manner of 1606 and the whole congregation will thereafter process up to the Town Hall for a Church Ale (refreshments and merry-making) with street theatre, music and Morris dancing.The festivities start early at 10.30am so town citizens can avail themselves of the special St Georges day lunches in the neighbouring pubs. On Friday and Saturday 26 and 27 May in St Marys Church two concerts have been arranged in collaboration with the Princes Trust. There will be a Charter Exhibition in Chipping Norton Museum throughout the summer - including a display of the original Charter lent by the Records Office just for the anniversary.The summer will also feature a popular music festival with local bands and a dance in the town hall, the Chipping Norton Rugby Club Beer Festival and a Charter Ball In October a series of five prestigious historical lectures - The Chipping Norton Charter Lectures - begins on
3rd October 2006. An early highlight of Charter Year will be :

The Chipping Norton Games
July 15th and 16th

A long time since you did any sport Always wanted to have a go at some new sporting activity Do you feel you really ought to get more exercise .Here's a fantastic opportunity to find out just what's on offer in the town. All the sports clubs (from Tennis to Bowls) and providers like the Leisure Centre and t6he Lido are laying on taster and fun events throughout the weekend mostly free and with a shuttle bus between venues. Book in at the Town Hall from June 24th and try something new this is for all ages and abilities. It should be a great weekend. We hope everyone in the family will take advantage of it. FULL PROGRAMME HERE

Enquiries and donations are very welcome!
Most of all we need people prepared to actually help by doing something! Ring Gina on
575 414. e-mail her on
Or ring the
Town Council on

The Charter by Dr. Adrienne Rosen OUDCE

This year Chipping Norton is celebrating the 400th anniversary of its charter. This event marked a milestone in the towns history, but what did it actually say Why is the charter important The Chipping Norton Historical Research Group has been investigating.A charter was a legal document, written in Latin, to record the grant of rights or property. In this case the charter was granted by King James 1 to the townsmen of Chipping Norton, and it created a corporation to govern the town. More than 160 towns and cities in England acquired charters of incorporation between 1500 and 1700, giving townsmen independence from the lords of local manors who had ruled them in medieval times. The charter gave the new corporation of Chipping Norton five key privileges. First was the creation of the new governing body which was a Common Council consisting of two bailiffs and twelve burgesses, who had the right to choose their own successors so that the corporation could perpetuate itself indefinitely without the need to seek approval for each new appointment. Democracy and the idea of electing the towns governors still lay a long way in the future! Second was the grant of a Common Seal with which to seal legal documents, and the right to alter the design if wished. The new corporations chosen design featured a castle, a reference to Chipping Nortons medieval past, although the castle itself had fallen down by 1606. The present town seal is slightly different, and must have been introduced at a later date. The third privilege gave the corporation a legal identity so that it could sue and be sued in the law courts. Fourth was the right to hold lands and property, an important privilege as lands given by benefactors for charity or public use had previously been held by the towns guild, but the guild had disappeared in 1547 at the Reformation. The fifth privilege was the right to issue byelaws, an important part of governing a town.

These five privileges were the essential points of incorporation, but the charter went into more detail and added some further grants to the town. The first fourteen members of the Common Council were all named and one of them, Walter Thomas, was appointed the first Town Clerk. His job was to preside every Monday at the corporations weekly Court of Record, which could hear cases worth up to 4. The charter also created two posts of sergeants-at-mace to make arrests and carry out the courts decisions and who, on ceremonial occasions, were to carry gilded maces before the bailiffs. Another clause confirmed the weekly Wednesday market and annual fair, and it granted the town the right to hold two additional fairs each year. The corporation was to be responsible for checking weights and measures and the quality of bread, corn and beer sold in the town. Finally the charter confirmed that the corporation should support the master of the grammar school and could hold lands for that purpose.

The charter, granted on 27th February 1606/7, was the basis for self-government by the people of Chipping Norton. Many towns functioned perfectly well without a charter (Witney never had one, for example) but a charter confirmed that the townsmen could run their own affairs without interference from the lord of the manor. One interesting recent discovery is an English translation of the charter, dated 1709, when it was just over 100 years old so perhaps the town had celebrated its first centenary

Other events in the pipeline include two quality concerts in St Mary's Church on May 26-27 and the Chipping Norton Games - a sports for all event taking place during the weekend of July 15/16 at sports venues in the town. A series of Chipping Norton Charter Lectures are scheduled throughout October featuring Reformation and Rebellion- in Chipping Norton, Chipping Norton and its Charter and Chipping Norton in a Time of Trouble, 1640-1660.

The Charter Exhibition will be running in Chipping Norton Museum over the summer.

Day of the Grand Re-Enactment

A re-creation of what would have happened when the Charter was granted in 1606 when the Bailiffs and Burgesses of the town's new Corporation went to church.

Photographs by Jim Crease

The Town Council processed to the Church from the Guildhall preceded by the Sergeant at Mace. A Service of Holy Communion was conducted by Canon Stephen Weston in the style of and with music of the period. The Sermon was given by Rev Ralph Mann. There followed a Procession of all from the Church to the Town Hall to enjoy a taste of the specially brewed Charter Ale, to buy a souvenir bottle, to taste Seventeenth Century refreshments and to enjoy music, song and dancing.


Local writer and Poet - Nick Owen - finds our Charter celebrations a good platform from which to mount an anti-Blair attack on the way the world stands. A stimulating read which begins like this.........

Just back from the celebration of400 years since the Chipping Norton Town Charter here in the UK, where we are ruled by unpleasant paranoid Scotsmen just as we were 400 years ago after the unification of the Anglo Scottish crowns. Picture my 12 year old son Caleb and I amidst a crowd of mostly older people, all decked out in the best finery of the early seventeenth century; the aldermen with their ceremonial chains of office strung over fur trimmed robes, the ladies in bonnets reminiscent of movies about the pilgrim fathers sailing to America. One tall and proud young woman sported a babe held high in arms and a pillbox hat. Others could almost have been Falstaff...............

and ends like this.............. Seizing Iraq's oil was not the answer. It was corrupt and greedy. There may be no community left to celebrate another 400 years since the Town Charter was granted if we carry on in that way.


Chipping Norton Youth Theatre presents

Photographs by Jim Crease

Town enactments mark anniversary

The events of an important day in 1606 were re-enacted in Chipping Norton at the weekend as the town celebrated the 400th anniversary of the granting of its charter.The charter, granted to the people of Chipping Norton by James I, gave the town some important privileges, including its first governing body.

Over the weekend The Theatre's youth group performed Unlawful Assembly, a play about the town's past, present and future staged as a promenade through the streets.

On Sunday, town councillors in costume took the roles of the bailiffs and burgesses who made up the governing body appointed in 1606, known as the Common Council, and re-enacted their procession from the Guildhall to St Mary's Church.

The charter document itself has been loaned to the Chipping Norton Museum from the Oxfordshire archives until the end of the month, and forms the centrepiece of a special exhibition is being held until October.

Deputy Mayor Gina Burrows, who is organising the celebrations, said: "They've done some research into the people who were the bailiffs and burgesses of the town, the sort of jobs they had and how they lived, and there's a lot of information about what people were like then and what the big issues of the day were.

"It's also about England in 1606 and 1607, and the different issues that concerned people then. The granting of the charter and the right to incorporate was significant for the town and the birth of local government."The town had a charter to hold a fair in the 13th century, but this was more important because it meant that the town, although not exactly self-governed these people were appointed, not elected had its own government, and it was a privilege."

The charter gave the town a number of important privileges the creation of the Common Council, a seal featuring a castle which is still being used in a slightly different form today, the right to hold property and the right to issue bylaws.

Many English towns and cities were incorporated in the 16th and 17th centuries, giving townspeople independence from the lords of local manors who ruled in the medieval period.

The exhibition runs at the museum in High Street until October 28, and is open from 2-4pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

Other events being held throughout the year include concerts at St Mary's Church on May 26 and 27, a beer festival at the rugby club on Saturday, June 17, and the inaugural Chipping Norton Games on July 15 and 16.

The Chipping Norton Charter Lectures are being held throughout October.



The Prince greets the official reception line. Nobody from Chippy. Who are all these people Must be the folks who organised the concert. I think one of those ladies is a County Councillor. Maria is finding the excitement almost too much to handle. Doesn't Charles look old - I say to the lady next to me. Wrong comment. She looks me up and down disdainfully. We're all getting old - she says. Charles has spotted a lady holding a restless Labrador puppy. I hope you're going to get him trained - he says.

The Prince finds time to admire a baby. Then he meets Brenda Morris (you can see her white hair in the centre picture) Are you local he asks. (Lucky guess Sir because there are not many present!) Born and bred here - Brenda replies. Christened and married in this church and my children sang in the Choir.

More swooning. The Prince asks one group of kids. Are you missing something fiendishly good on the telly this evening (Only Big Brother Sir). Fifteen minutes after his arrival the Prince at last reaches the Church Door. He has done an absolutely fantastic job of chatting up the crowd easily and with great charm. The ladies have been wowed! But now the Vicar is waiting to whisk the Prince away from the masses and introduce him to the toffs inside who have paid a fortune for their tickets and who are probably getting impatient. We will just have to hope that one of the insiders will eventually tell us all about the concert and the champagne reception in the Marquee afterwards. The rumour out in the churchyard is that the orchestra got stuck at the airport.

(Photographs by the Editor and James Crease)

Orchestra misses cue for royal appointment

A ROYAL concert in Chipping Norton attended by the Prince of Wales on Saturday night turned into a musical mix-up. Prince Charles duly turned up for the chamber music event organised by Music in Country Churches, of which he is patron - but the orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, didn't. They were held up in the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague. There was almost a worse disaster when guest pianist, Piotr Anderszewski, himself a stand-in for original soloist Maria Joao Pires, arrived unheralded in a 4x4 and was nearly turned away by Oxfordshire's deputy Lord Lieutenant. Mr Anderszewski rose to the occasion and not only battled his way into St Mary's Church but performed a one-man piano recital instead of the orchestral programme.

The vicar of St Mary's, Canon Stephen Weston, joked to the congregation on Sunday about the gilded chairs hired for the orchestra's use that were still stacked up unused in the church. The Royal Shakespeare Company had helped build a special stage for the concert, which in the event provided a solo platform for Mr Anderszewski and a Steinway. The concert formed part of Chipping Norton's year of celebrations to mark the town's 400th anniversary of its royal charter. Prince Charles did a mini walkabout and spoke to the public who had gathered to greet him outside the church. Later, he met the town's Mayor, Cllr Gina Burrows, and her consort Cllr Rob Evans, also a former Mayor of the town. The Mayor presented Charles with two bottles of Charter Ale 400 from local brewery Hook Norton, and a `tweed' cake made by local resident Angela Gaydon in honour of the town's former Bliss Mill - it's a rich fruit cake baked with ale. "The Prince looked very interested in it," reported Cllr Burrows, who has written him a thank you note for visiting the town and giving it a royal boost. Music in Country Churches was not available for comment as the Journal went to press.