There have been two licensed premises in Chipping Campden trading as the Kings Arms. The first was located in the building that now houses Da Luigi Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. It must be a little known fact that this Kings Arms was once tied to the Donnington Brewery. The licence for renewal was refused by the licensing authority in 1891 and was subsequently turned into a technical school.

It wasn’t until 1935 that the second, and present day, Kings Arms was established in the property across the High Street that had been Ardley House.

From The Inns and Alehouses of Chipping Campden and Broad Campden. 1988. (courtesy Chipping Campden Historical Society). (edit)

The original Kings Arms, High Street

The original Kings Arms is a sixteenth-century timber-framed building that now houses Da Luigi Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. It has an overhanging first floor, which, if it was indeed there in the sixteenth-century, protected the ground floor when chamber pots were emptied from first-floor window but was hazardous for passers-by. The wrought iron heraldic sign is by Griggs.

In 1821 the Campden Ratebook has an entry for “The Kings Arms Inn & Stables and garden, etc. Value £9. Rates 4s.6d.” The owner occupier was Richard Andrews.

The Evesham Journal of 23rd November 1869 recorded that “On Sunday afternoon last a boy named Harwood was playing in a dungheap in the Kings Arms yard, which from the recent rain was converted into an immense slough. From some cause or other the little boy was drowned. At the inquest Mr brace, the landlord, said the hole (through which the boy had entered) was new and not yet completed; the door was not yet on. He was willing to make whatever amendment the coroner recommended.

In 1881 Thomas Brace was still the landlord of the old Kings Arms. He had a reputation for strong ale; after his death large quantities of horsemeat were found in the vats, which no doubt explained the potency of his drink.

In the 1871 census, Phoenix Place (as it is now called), formerly Lodging House Yard, is known as King’s Arms Yard, The lodging house there was run by Hannah Toft, the wife of the former landlord William, and catered for some of the workers on the railway.

In 1891 at the Petty Sessions the Kings Arms was not renewed; a superintendent of police gave evidence to the effect that there were seven full licensed houses within 435 yards, a beer house next door, and two grocers licensed in the street. He added moreover, “The premises are in a dilapidated condition, not fit for a public house in the present state… the house is not required. This is my opinion. It wants pulling down.”

Later that year Canon Bourne, trustee and governor of the school nearby, succeeded in getting the County Council to provide £700 for the purchase of the Kings Arms Inn. With a grant from the County Council it was converted into a technical school which considerably expanded the Grammar School’s curriculum. The premises were ready in 1893 and there were evening classes open to the public, which a large number of agricultural labourers are said to have attended. There were demonstration lectures on dairying, veterinary classes and cookery classes. In 1919 Grammar School classes were still being held there.

The Grammar School sold the Kings Arms in 1928. Jewson altered the building in 1929, when he either created or restored the overhang. Possibly there had been a flat Victorian brick façade.

In the early thirties The Kings Arms became a tea room. In 1935 it moved across the High Street to what had been Ardley House and became a hotel. The old Kings Arms kept a restaurant called the Kings Arms Pantry. At some time the building was a photographers. The Freemasons have their temple upstairs. Now [in 1998] it houses Caminetto, a restaurant and bistro with beamed ceilings, exposed stone walls and an attractive atmosphere.

From 1935 the Kings Arms transferred its licence from the original premises to Ardley House across the road.

Part of Ardley House, now the Kings Arms, go back to the sixteenth-century. The older part has mullioned windows on the first floor and a doorway arch with a triangular hood on attached Doric columns. The eighteenth-century part of the building has three storeys and three bays. There is a bow window on the ground floor and a doorway with fluted three-quarter columns.

The Guild of Handicraft Trust has a recording of Mr Fred Colidicott telling the story of Miss Harwood, a well-to-do lady who lived there at the beginning of the century; she sent presents to Fred and his brothers, on one occasion giving Fred a Mecanno set.

In 1906 Dr John Dewhurst, the local doctor, lived at Ardley House and complained in a letter to The Evesham Journal.

“Sir, Within the last few years, Campden has gradually wakened from its long sleep. For some considerable time we have had gas, both for lighting our streets and houses, as well as clean dry pavements for walking upon, and now, quite recently, we have obtained an excellent water supply. There remains however one relic of a barbarous past, which though picturesque, is an offence against the most elementary laws of sanitation and a source of annoyance to the nostrils of a large majority of the inhabitants of the town. I refer of course to the monthly sheep market, which is held in the very centre of the town, viz the Square. The penetrating odour left by the sheep is distinctly perceptible at the time I am writing this letter and that is more than 10 days since the last market.

“To those who have merely to pass by the place, the smell is offensive; to those who have unfortunately to live within a few feet of the saturated ground, is nothing short of disgusting. I can state that in summertime the front rooms of my house are practically unfit for habitation, not only on market day, but for several days after.

“The nuisance is obvious, not only to those who have eyes to see, but to all who have noses of even average sensitiveness, and I trust the good sense of Campden will soon take steps to sweep away our monthly sheep market out of the square.”

The smell of the market became too much for the doctor and by 1913 he had moved to The Martins. Later Ardley House was owned by the Cresswells, who moved to Charingworth Manor because of the smell of the sheep market and the flies that gathered around the sheep.

In 1935 it became The Kings Arms. Miss Lloyd Roberts moved her tea rom across the road from the old Kings Arms pantry.

Image: Gloucestershire Echo

Gloucestershire Echo, 2nd July 1992 – Hotel faces court: A hotel in the Cotswolds is to be taken to court for alleged contravention of food hygiene regulations. The decision to prosecute the Kings Arms Hotel at Chipping Campden was taken by Cotswold District Council’s environmental services committee.

Councillors agreed to act after hearing a report by environmental health manager Maurice Brennan. The alleged contraventions listed include pest-damaged and contaminated food, dirty floors and shelves covered in mouse droppings and dirty cutting boards.

Cotswold Journal, 9th June 1998 – Hotel must take down floodlights: Two floodlights focused on the front of a centuries-old hotel in Chipping Campden’s High Street must be removed within two months, following a ruling by Cotswold District Council. The owners of the King’s Arms Hotel – the Old English Pub Company – said they found the decision “very difficult to understand.”

Cotswold Journal, 7th August 1998 – Sign to stay: The owners of Chipping Campden’s Kings Arms Hotel, who took down a pub sign without permission, have escaped prosecution. The wall-mounted sign, depicting a coat of arms, was taken down by the Old English Pub Company without listed building consent. Now Cotswold District Council has granted permission for a hanging sign instead and decided not to take enforcement action against the pub for breaking the rule.

Cotswold Journal, Thursday 4th January 2001 – All change at the Kings Arms: Tim Haigh and Rupert Pendered, owners of the Village Inn in Barnsley, have bought the Kings Arms in Chipping Campden. Tim was born and brought up near Chipping Campden and Rupert trained at the Lygon Arms, Broadway.

Gloucestershire Echo, 11th January 2001- Chef serves up a pub delight: A top London chef has taken up residence in the heart of the Cotswolds. Graham Grafton used to serve up dishes to the aristocracy of London’s showbiz scene at top restaurants such as The Ivy and Bibendum. Now he has turned his attention to pub grub at The Kings Arms in Chipping Campden.

“Keep it simple, use the freshest ingredients available and the food will speak for itself,” says Graham who was lured away from the city by food-loving entrepreneurs, Tim Haigh and Rupert Pendered. The pair already own The Village Pub, in Barnsley which was named Gastropub of the Year by The Guardian last month and reached the finals of The Times Pub of the Year 2000.

Image: Gloucestershire Echo: left to right – Tim Haigh, Graham Grafton, Rupert Pendered.

Gloucestershire Echo, 5th July 2001 – Hotelier hits out at council: The owner of Chipping Campden’s Kings Arms Hotel has branded councillors as “pedantic” for blocking his plans for a £2 million pounds makeover. Since Tim Haigh bough the 1930’s hotel in January he has battled with Cotswold District Council’s planning committee.

Gloucestershire Echo, 2nd June 2008 – Buyer snaps up hotel: The Kings Hotel in Chipping Campden has been sold. The exact sale price was not disclosed, but the Cirencester branch of agents Colliers Robert Barry had been asking £2,250,000. In the selling guide it projected £230,000 profit from net turnover of £850,000 for the hotel.

The new owner is Birmingham entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Sir Peter Rigby, who has added it to his small portfolio of country house hotels, which includes Mallory Court near Leamington Spa and Buckland Tout-Saints Hotel in Kingsbridge, Devon.

Pub review. The Kings, Chipping Campden, 11th April 2009 (by Caroline Fisher – edit): We enjoyed a perfectly lovely meal at The Kings – but it lacked that essential ingredient, pizzaz. You know the feeling, when you pick up the menu and the dishes spark a frision of excitement – adventurous must-try combinations. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Master-Chef, but I’d say the courses on offer weren’t pulse-racers – from fish and chips, to sirloin steak – and chips and hotpot. And the ones we chose were competently cooked, but far from captivating.

It was a shame, because everything else about this 17th and 18th century townhouse hotel and restaurant has always had me in raptures. Slap bang in Chipping Campden square, it couldn’t be more enticing. The low-beamed restaurant is a mix of country and cosmopolitan, with recessed spotlights, curvaceous Robert Welsh cutlery and artist Catherine Rayner’s quirky modern animals side-by-side with the inglenook fireplace, central high-backed settle and dark wood tables.

Cotswold Journal, 30th March 2010 – Hotel wants to build new rooms on an ancient plot: A hotel is at loggerheads with a conservation group over its bid to build on historic land in the heart of a Cotswold town. The Kings Hotel wants to put up more rooms at the back of its building in The Square at Chipping Campden, but it is on an ancient burgage plot. Campden Society said the planned two-storey annexes behind the Grade II listed hotel, providing four one-bedroom suites, will ruin the town’s distinctive heritage.

It will fight to protect the surviving cherished burgage plots – long strips of land at right angles to the main street which tenants rented from the Lord of the Manor in medieval times. It is also up against Cotswold District Council planning officers, who are backing the commercial bid over conservation. A society spokesman said: “This proposal is within the central part of the conservation area, in the middle of the historic burgages which run between the High Street and Back Ends. It would create an extension of the existing buildings and produce a solid mass of stonework blocking long views across the burgages.

But hotel agent Reg Ellis said the traditional linear extensions were designed to sit in a concealed area of back garden 60 metres back from the High Street. He said: “The site was originally a scrappy piece of ground used for storing rubbish skips.” He added, “One of the main selling points of the hotel is its historic character and its location on one of the finest high streets in England. The hotel wants its guests to appreciate the environment it offers and would not dream of proposing to build anything that would spoil it.”

The planning committee meets tomorrow to make a decision.

Licensing Details: (The ‘old’ Kings Arms)

Owner in 1891: Richard Iles Arkell, Donnington Brewery, Stow on the Wold

Rateable value in 1891: £15.10s.0d.

Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse

Landlords (at the ‘old’ Kings Arms) include:

1821 Richard Andrews

1841 William Toft

1856,1858 Joseph Bloxham

1869,1891  Thomas Brace

The ‘new’ Kings Arms:

1998 Mike Wrighton (manager)

2001 (Jan) Tim Haigh and Rupert Pendered

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