ABC of Chippenham: Unity and Loyalty

Unity and Loyalty is Chippenham's motto and as you can see also appears on the town's coat of arms which was granted by charter in 1554 by Queen Mary.

Chippenham was a royal manor in Saxon times, with the important right to send a burgess to parliament (mentioned in 1295) and to hold a market on Wednesday, plus a fair on St Andrew's day granted during the reign of King John (1199-1216). However, by Tudor times the authority of the town's steward was being challenged by other local landlords and tenants because Chippenham's high status wasn't properly documented. This led to a petition to Queen Mary to clarify the steward's authority, which resulted in her granting the town's charter on the 2nd May 1554, together with 217 acres of land and the right to send 2 burgess to parliament.

The land is today called the Chippenham Borough Lands and some of the income from the remaining 70 acres is distributed to local charities, good causes and projects each year via the Chippenham Borough Lands Charity. Two members of parliament has long gone (reduced to one in 1866 via the Redistribution of Seats Act, then absorbed into the new North-West Wilts constituency by the 1884 Reform Act), but sending one was restored last year with the formation of the new Chippenham constituency and the election of Duncan Hames as MP.

The town's coat of arms is derived from those of two of the early land owning families: the Gascelyns of Sheldon (on the right, who gained the right for two fairs to be held in the town) and the Husees (Husseys) of Rowdon on the left (or Rowden as it is known today, as discussed in the letter R). The tree symbolises the forest (firstly called Chippenham Forest, then Pewsham as the town grew and the forest shrank during the middle ages) which was why Chippenham had a Saxon royal hunting lodge and was the start of the town's wealth and status.

This is for ABC Wednesday and forms my 21st themed post about Chippenham.


  1. at the time, was it of great benefit for a town to be able to hold a fair?

  2. There used to be a Borough Lands trust that gave grants to good causes and young people. It may still be operating.

    Will V be Views from the.... ha ha

  3. a lovely concept, unity

    ROG, ABC wednesday team

  4. Petoskystone - yes. It meant the town was of some importance and holding a fair meant that many people would go there. It would be good for the local businesses. Some fairs included hiring of local labour, so it was also a time when employment and employees were sought. However these wouldn't quite be in the same context as today as employee usually meant servant or labourer!

    Mark - there still is as I said in my post :)

    ROG - yes. Loyalty is good too when it's not misplaced!


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