Chipping Norton School parkrun

Posted on: 20 Nov 2021

Would you believe it?  It’s nearly three weeks since a car demolished the BT box at the end of our road and we still do not have a phone line or broadband.  Still!!  We do get compensation for lack of service but really I’d like the internet back.  I am writing this standing up at the window in the hope of catching a faint signal.  Let’s hope you get to read today’s parkrun report.

Another longish trip today with a visit to Chipping Norton School parkrun.  Why isn’t it simply called Chipping Norton parkrun, I hear you ask!  Because there already is a Chipping Norton parkrun … in Australia!  Chipping Norton is apparently a suburb of Sydney and they got there first with the naming of their parkrun.

The original Chipping Norton is to be found in Oxfordshire, on the edge of the Cotswolds.  The place is recorded in the Domesday Book as Nortone, which simply means “North town”.  The Chipping bit came later and is an old term for a market, as in Chipping Sodbury.  The town must already have been a place of some significance because the Normans built a castle there on the hillside.  The castle is long gone but is recalled in the street name Castle Banks.  Around about the same time Chipping Norton’s church, St Mary’s, was constructed and still stands.

The growing prosperity of the Cotswold wool trade in the Middle Ages is reflected in the size of the church and the number of other impressive medieval and Jacobean buildings in town. The Guildhall on Middle Row, which now houses the local council offices, dates to about 1450.  The town continued to prosper in the 18th century when many of the buildings surrounding the marketplace were rebuilt in the classical Georgian style. The most prominent of the buildings on the marketplace is the striking town hall, built in 1842 to replace an earlier hall.  On the outskirts of town is one of the really iconic buildings in the Cotswolds; Bliss Tweed Mill, a Grade II listed late Victorian textile mill, with a striking chimney atop a dome. At first glance, it is easy to mistake Bliss Mill for a somewhat bizarre stately home, but it was designed in 1872 by George Woodhouse for William Bliss II, a successful mill owner.  Nowadays it has been converted into apartments.

Modern day Chipping Norton seems to be a very prosperous place with lots of upmarket shops and restaurants.  It has its own theatre, remarkable for a town of just 6,000 people.  It also hosts an annual literary festival and music festival.  A few years ago, when David Cameron was Prime Minister and local MP, there was talk of the “Chipping Norton set”, people prominent in politics, the arts and media.  Jeremy Clarkson has his farm nearby as does Alex James, the Blur guitarist turned cheese maker.  One of the first finishers in the parkrun was Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Chipping Norton and have eleven minutes to spare, you might be interested in this video.

The parkrun is based at the secondary school on the edge of town.  The course consists of two laps.  There is a winding loop around the school playing fields then out onto a track, around a little bit of woodland and then back to the playing fields.  It’s fairly flat - surprising in a town built on a hill.  It can get very muddy though, although it was all right today.  The parkrun began back in December 2019 but, what with the long break, they were only on run number 27 today.  Normally they get around 100 starters.

I wasn’t too optimistic about my chances today following an injury sustained on Wednesday.  I was taking my 91 year old father for a little walk when he stumbled and started to fall.  I tried to grab him with the result that we both fell in a heap.  Fortunately he wasn’t hurt at all but I strained something in my shoulder making it painful to run.  At the start of the run today I went off very cautiously.  There were a lot of young, fit people there and they dashed off into the distance.  I soon found myself running alone which suited me just fine.  I picked my way carefully along the rutted track and around the wooded section and then sped up a little on the grass.  I passed the approximate halfway point in just under twelve minutes and then maintained that sort of pace to finish in 23:43 and 23rd place.

My statistics for today - that was parkrun venue number 234.  I was first in my age group and fifth overall on age graded scores.

Anyway that’s Chipping Norton for you.  It seemed like a very nice place and, if I didn’t have to get back,  I would have liked to have stayed and explored further.  There don’t seem to be any videos of the parkrun so I shall leave you with a few photos borrowed from their Facebook page.


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