By Theresa Hopwood

Chippenham, a market town in north Wiltshire, has recently been awarded the prestigious Purple Flag status for the high standard and safety of the town centre at night. A major contribution to attaining this award was the refurbishment of the Neeld Community and Arts Centre, so I was really pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Centre, and experience more of what Chippenham has to offer the evening visitor, on Friday night.

The evening started in the Best Western Angel Hotel. Their lounge, with a view of the historic Butter Cross, is the perfect place to meet up with friends for a relaxing drink to start the evening. Feeling a little peckish it was then time to head for a bite to eat in The Garden. This being February, outside dining was not an option, but the next best thing is definitely the casual and welcoming atmosphere of this lovely restaurant, stylishly themed around an English garden. The interesting menu allows you to put together a meal based on a main (board), side (pot) and sauce (saucer) to create the perfect meal. The pots of triple cooked sweet potato chips are particularly delicious and a great accompaniment for the fresh, Wiltshire reared beef burgers. The menu is varied and includes options for children. The Garden recently celebrated its first birthday, and always seems to have a great buzz about it, a popular all day dining option in the town.

The Garden, Chippenham

Just a few minutes walk from The Garden and we arrived at the impressive entrance to the Neeld, up the steps of the town hall and into the bright, refurbished Information Centre/Box Office. This being the launch night we were greeted by the Mayor, and very enthusiastic front of house staff, giving the evening a special atmosphere. The bar area is new too, and offers the opportunity for pre show, and interval drinks, which you are welcome to take back to the auditorium. Tiered seating is another result of the refurbishment and ensures a good view for all.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the performance by The Showstoppers, a professional cast who have performed at the Edinburgh Fringe for 8 years, have a Radio 4 series, and actually open in the West End this week. The show is an improvised musical with plenty of opportunity for the audience to interact. The skill of the cast amazed me as they literally made up songs, dances and scripts on the hop as the audience provided them with subject matter, composers, favourite musicals etc. The resulting hilarious performance followed two couples at very different stages of their marriages flying off on holiday to Jamaica with music in the style of, amongst others, Wicked, Rocky Horror Show and Benny and Bjorn! Every performance by The Showstoppers would be unique and I would definitely see them again!

The Showstoppers was just the start of a varied first season for the Neeld including music, magic, mime, drama and comedy with well known names, such as Mitch Benn. The space is available to community groups, and local amateur groups will also have the opportunity to perform there.

New bars and restaurants, and a great season ahead at the Neeld Community and Arts Centre will certainly mean I do not have to travel far for great evening entertainment from now on!

Neeld Hall, Chippenham


The Garden (Café Bar Grill)
The Garden

The Garden is a unique restaurant located in the centre of Chippenham. It opened its doors in Feb 2015 to give the people of Wiltshire a space to feel relaxed as they eat and drink quality, locally sourced produce.

Market Town

Looking to visit the amazing town of Chippenham?...If so, click here to get the latest Chippenham tourist information direct from the official Wiltshire tourism site!



Nobody has commented on this post yet, why not send us your thoughts and be the first?

Leave a Reply