I spent most of my early life, upto the age of 18, living in the small town of Chipping Sodbury, some 12 miles north east of Bristol, and 3 miles from the Cotswold Hills. In the photo you may be able to make out the “Wagon and Horses”, a line of trees, on top of the distant hills, these lead to a darker wooded area on the left of the photo. That is the “Roman Camp” at Little Sodbury, which is actually an Iron age Hill fort.
It even has an entry in the Wikipedia!!
The Wiki states that JK Rowling was probably not born in Chipping Sodbury but Yate. I’m not sure that either are correct, like many children of the 50’s and 60’s she was born at the Cottage hospital, “The Ridge”, which is a strip of land between CS and Yate, and is probably part of Sodbury but not Chipping Sodbury. I was once told by the local historian that Chipping Sodbury was like the Yolk of a very Lopsided fried egg, the white of the egg being Sodbury. So JKR was born in that little bit of egg white between the yolk and the pan, “The Ridge”. I could be wrong, maybe it is Yate afterall, but to me it will always be “The Ridge”.
If you were to approach CS from the west after going through (or over the ridge) then you would find yourselves going steeply uphill, this is Bowling Hill, and is definitely CS. I’m not sure why it is called Bowling Hill, but it would be good fun cheese rolling down it! At the top it levels out for 100 yards or so, and from what I remember this is Rounceval Street (sp). The Grapes Hotel is on the left, and has many a story to tell. Rounceval Street gives way to High street as the road starts to dip down toward the town centre. There is a cross road at this junction, the north left turn descends rapidly, and back toward the Ridge, and crosses the river frome which runs east-west and parallel to the main street. The roads are very narrow at this point. Quarry workings will be in evidence, though they were closed some 30 years ago, and may well be a housing estate by now!!
Back to the High Street, and going downhill staying to the right and you will be almost at the point of where this picture has been taken. Just out of sight on the right is the Clock Tower and Shelter, which was a later addition, early 1900’s. Passing the Clock Tower and a further 50 yards down, the hill levels out and the main street open wide. This is Broad street, and is probably the point where the claim is made that it is the widest street in Britain. Many years ago, 17th and 18th Centuries??, there used to be a row of houses in the middle of the street, and street plans from that time clearly show that. There is another road crossing at this point, north and past the Church to Wickwar and Wotton-Under-Edge, and south past the old baptist chappel, toward the Cotswold Road, which is now an east-west bypass of the main street.
As you continue down Broad Street there are some notable buildings, the Town Hall on the left, quickly followed by (one of my favourite CS Pubs) the George Inn. To the right there maybe the Old Petrol Pumps, I’m sure they will have been kept, because they were old when I was kid, and they looked pretty neat really. Then lots of small very old shops and two other ‘watering’ holes, the Beaufort Arms, and the Royal Oak. At the far end of Broad street, where the road takes a sharp turn right, is the War Memorial, and another pub, the Portcullis. A left turn at this point will take you past the Oldest House in CS the Tudor House, despite its name parts of the building are far older than that.
Back to the Main road through Sodbury, the sharp turn right (dog leg) is the start of Horse street, another sharp turn and you will be heading east and out of CS and toward Old Sodbury, the Cotswolds and beyond. There is one more Pub on the Boot Hill, the Boot Inn.
So ends a quick drive through Chipping Sodbury.
Corrections: As I was eating my toast and marmalade, it occured to me that the River that runs east-west parallel to the main street and on the North side, is not the River Frome, though it might well join the Frome at some point. I’ve no idea what the river is called, but it was always referred to as “the brook”. It was always a great place to spend a lazy day, with lots of wildlife, voles, boatmen, sticklebacks…