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CHIPPING CAMPDEN gives a better idea than anywhere else in the Cotswolds as to what a prosperous wool town might have looked like in the Middle Ages. The short High Street is hemmed in by ancient houses, whose undulating, weather-beaten roofs jag against each other, while down below are twisted beams and mullioned windows. The seventeenth-century Market Hall has survived too, a barn-like affair in the middle of the High Street, where farmers once gathered to sell their harvests. Inevitably, Chipping Campden heaves with day-trippers in the summer, so try to stay overnight and explore in the evening or at dawn, when the streets are empty and the golden hues of the stone at their richest.
The church of St James (April– Oct Mon– Fri 10am–5pm, Sat 11am–5pm & Sun 2–5pm; Nov– March Mon– Sat 11am–3pm, Sun 2–4pm; free) is the archetypal Cotswold wool church built on the economic back of its sheep in the fifteenth century, the zenith of the town's wool-trading days.
Getting to Chipping Campden by bus is relatively easy from Cheltenham, Moreton-in-Marsh (for Chipping Norton and Oxford) and Stratford-upon-Avon, but other places usually require more effort.