Saturday, 1 August 2009

Chipping Sodbury/ Soppan Byrg: Place in Bernard Cornwell'sSaxon Series ****


Chipping Sodbury is a market town in South Gloucestershire, south west England, founded in the 12th century by William Crassus. The villages of Old Sodbury and Little Sodbury are nearby. At the 2001 census the population of Chipping Sodbury was 5,066, but in the last two or three decades the town has become part of a much larger built-up area due to the rapid expansion of nearby Yate. At the census the combined population of Yate and Chipping Sodbury was 26,855.
In the 18th century Edward Jenner started his medical training in Sodbury, observing people catching cowpox, and then not catching smallpox.
East of the town is the Chipping Sodbury Tunnel a railway tunnel under the Cotswolds, 2 miles 924 yards (4.06 km) long, which was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1902. The Chipping Sodbury tunnel is notorious for flooding in wet weather, often leading to disruption of services on the main railway line to and from South Wales. Chipping Sodbury had a railway station from 1903 to 1961. Yate station, on the Bristol to Birmingham main line, originally closed in January 1965 but reopened in May 1989.
Medieval Mop Fair

Chipping Sodbury hosts a twice yearly Mop Fair, usually the last weekends of March and September. The town also holds a Festival Week in early June. There is a farmers' market twice a month, on the second Saturday and last Thursday.
A Victorian Evening is held on the first Friday in December. The event starts in the afternoon when school choirs perform in the street. The evenings events begin with the arrival of Father Christmas when snow is guaranteed. The streets are lined with stalls from local charities and organisations and old time amusements, including a Ferris wheel, Helter Skelter and two children's rides. Choirs sing, bands play, and stalls bring a market feel. A Hog Roast is held.
The name Chipping Sodbury is considered humorous by those unfamiliar with it. Locals often call it "Sodding Chipbury". The town is mentioned in the film comedy Nuns On The Run by Robbie Coltrane's character, as he and Eric Idle's character, disguised as nuns, try to hide in a convent, claiming they come from Chipping Sodbury ― (erroneously) assuming there is no convent there. Additionally in the film Carry on Cowboy, Jim Dales character Sheriff P. Knutt, purports to have been educated at Chipping Sodbury Technical College; of course no such institution exists. Also, the name is believed to have inspired "Effing Sodbury", a place name associated with the satirical pseudo-newspaper The Framley Examiner.

The name
The town's name is recorded in Old English (in the dative case) as Soppanbyrig = "Soppa's fort". "Chipping" (from Old English cēping) means that a market was held there.

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