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Cotswolds Mystery of Chipping Campden


Cotswolds Mystery – Cotswolds Guided Tours

We just love living in the Cotswolds, not only is it an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it is filled with local legends & quirky history. This Cotswolds mystery is connected with the beautiful market town of Chipping Campden. We visit Chipping Campden as part of our Cotswold Highlights Tour, many guests love the wide curving high street & its Art’s & Crafts connections, the beautiful buildings & the ruins of a very impressive manor house, built by Sir Baptist Hicks. Chipping Campden is located 5 miles north west of Moreton in Marsh, the old English word ‘Chipping’ meaning market, and the word ‘Campden’ meaning valley with enclosures. Essentially, Chipping Campden is the market town in the valley. In the 14th & 15th Centuries it was by far the most important wool trading centre in the northern Cotswolds. Chipping Campden would have been familiar in the quays of Bruge & Antwerp, William Grevel a resident of Chipping Campden, was known as the ‘Flower of the wool merchants of all of England’ he built Grevels House in 1380, which still stands proud along the main street. As you wander and explore you will notice the beautiful Market Hall which dates back to 1627, and is managed & maintained by the National Trust.

Cotswolds Mystery of Chipping Campden

But if you love a Cotswolds mystery then there is an interesting story connected to this iconic market town. The story is known as the ‘Campden Wonder’. The main facts are easy to evidence. William Harrison was a rent collector for Lady Campden. On 16th August 1660 the elderly gentleman set out to collect the rents but never returned. When Harrison’s wife raised the alarm that her husband was not back at his usual time, she sent John Perry their servant out to look for him. Now John Perry was not a very reliable servant, found of drinking and telling tall tales he stayed out all night. Mrs Harrison was now extremely worried & her son, Edward went out to join the search. Another local located some of William Harrisons belongings, namely a bloodstained ‘neckband’. Mrs Harrison started to suspect John Perry who was arrested &

questioned. Perry then started to tell the authorities stories about Harrison’s disappearance, blaming a tinker for his murder, then claiming he had helped to move the body & then implicating his own brother & mother. All the Perry’s were tried for the murder of William Harrison & although they case failed to be tried during the first assizes, because no body had ever been recovered, they were later found guilty & hung on the hillside near Broadway Tower. Now the Cotswolds mystery takes an unusual turn, for two years after the hanging of the Perry’s William Harrison returns to Chipping Campden. Claiming that on the day he had been collecting rents, he was kidnapped, and had become a slave, only able to escape once his master had given him a silver bowl as a gift. He used the silver bowl to gain passage on ship & finally making his way back to Chipping Campden.

The majority of the points in this story can be collaborated, that indeed William Harrison was a rent collector for Chipping Campden, the Perry’s were tried & hanged for his death & he did return to Chipping Campden in mid 1660s. However the true details of his disappearance, his bizarre Cotswolds journey will now never been known & this Cotswolds mystery will remain a local & rather elaborate legend.

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