ABC of Chippenham: Buttercross

When we moved to Chippenham in 1988, the Buttercross was not in its current home, but a few miles away in the village of Castle Combe. Its rediscovery led to a campaign to bring it back to form a focal point in the market square. Here's what's written about it on the stone bench beneath:

The Chippenham Buttercross was built c. 1570 in the position where Barclays Bank now stands today. The centre of the "Butchers Shambles" it was used for the sale of meat and dairy produce. In 1889 it was sold for £6 to Mr. E. C. Lowndes, who erected it as a gazebo in the kitchen garden of the Manor House Castle Combe. The design of the building in its new setting was by NWDC [the then local District Council] architects Jack Konynenburg and Teresa Surawy.

The Chippenham Buttercross was re-erected in this position in 1995 by Chippenham Civic Society, paid for by donations...

...there then follows a long list of everyone who donated to the cause.

The building you can just see (with 2 windows) to the left of the photo is Barclays Bank and old photographs show the Buttercross was placed sideways on there compared to its current position. Today on market days (Friday and Saturday) the Buttercross is surrounded by a few colourful market stalls, but I doubt it has the same hustle and bustle as when it was the centre of the Butchers Shambles.

However, I believe there is a move to try and expand the market and according to the Town Council's website: the Buttercross is available free of charge for charity or community groups for promotion, recruiting and fund raising. It was the focal point last November for a peaceful demonstration by local students protesting at the [then] proposed rise in university tuition fees. So hustle and bustle might be firmly on the agenda again!

The Chippenham Civic Society's regular publication is called Buttercross Bulletin which is very apt as they were instrumental in bringing the building back to Chippenham and this online extract I've found calls for help in a project to celebrate the diversity of Chippenham's homes.

Now here's a little Bonus B for today. This week's local newspaper reports the Borough Parade shopping area in the centre of town is about to have a £250,000 facelift (subject to planning permission) which will include the placing of a new canopy and neon sign at the arched entrance. Therefore, this picture forms the 'Before' in readiness for showing you the 'After' one soon.

This is for ABC Wednesday and forms part 2 of my themed round of posts about Chippenham.


  1. Wow built in 1500s

    Visitng from ABC Wednesday. Following your blog too. I hope you can return the favor.

    B is for Books

  2. An interesting historic site which seems to center (or centre) the town

    On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, welcome, and thanks for participating! - ROG

  3. Nice post for the B-day and the place looked so English which I cross checked by reading your other page. Interesting history and glad it is being resurrected to its earlier glory!!

    The Canopy or shelter in this photo of Chippenham Buttercross, reminds me of traditional rooftops that one sees in Kerala in southern India. The old houses are either thatched or tiled with red tiles.
    Google and check out "village houses in Kerala"

  4. How encouraging, to see that something has been replaced (roughly) where it belongs. Would be even better if the market started to thrive more. Not sure I like the sound of £250 million worth of neon signs...

  5. Lulu Post - welcome and thanks for following :)

    ROG - thanks

    Nanka - that's really interesting, thanks for the comparison

    Plantaliscious - the money's not just been spent on the neon sign, but for a general spruce up of the area in honour of Waitrose moving in ;)

    Petoskystone - centuries ago markets were held in the churchyard, but later (around the 13th century) this was considered blasphemous so they moved out to a nearby central part of the town. The monasteries often ran the market and erected a cross on the site of the marketplace (hence the more common name Market Cross like that at Banbury) to remind market goers of God and to encourage honest trading. In many places like Chippenham, the main products sold were meat, fowl and dairy products, hence the substitution of 'Butter' for 'Market' to reflect what was being traded there.

  6. Three things.

    One - I hope they forget about the neon sign.

    Two - It looks as if someone has decided the Buttercross street will never be open to traffic again.

    Three - At one time you said how you'd thought of taking over a plant business . . . if the space beneath the Buttercross is being offered free of charge, why not set one up there?


  7. How very interesting. Learning new things every day with all you new ABC participants. Welcome.

  8. I am now wondering what C will be about: cycle path; causeway; Charlton!

  9. How great that it is back nearish to where it should be.
    I would imagine it makes that space!
    Lovely building.
    Thanks for drawing it to our attention.

  10. I wonder whether the good citizens of Chippenham raised many objections when it was sold to be a gazebo ~ what a travestry! Glad to hear that it has come home.

  11. I know why Europeans laugh so much at the "historic districts" in the US. We're impressed if a building happens to be 50 years old. Gorgeous!

  12. Following on from Mark, how about C for chicken - and the plans for a KFC drive through in Chippenham?
    I wish I could think of something else...

  13. Petoskystone - you're welcome!

    Lucy - 1)I hope so too 2)yes it is and most of the High Street is pedestrianised during the day. It makes for a very pleasant walk in the town centre 3) good idea but there's already a plant business selling on the weekly market.

    Wanda - welcome yourself :) Actually it's welcome back for me to ABC, I took part in rounds 2-6.

    Mark - it's none of those and you'll go dur! when I reveal what it is on Wednesday ;)

    Robert - it is a lovely building and I love that part of town :)

    Anna - I've no idea and the location was completely forgotten about until the manor at Castle Combe was being redeveloped into an hotel. That's when the folks of Chippenham decided they wanted it back!

    Lu - I can't believe that KFC is being considered :(


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