The warm, golden Cotswold stone of Noel Arms has been a part of the Chipping Campden landscape since the 1700s, and rumour has it that Charles II rested here as he fled to the continent after his Scottish army was crushed by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
But it's only been known as Noel Arms since the 19th century. Before then it was The George, and it was through the inn's carriage arch that packhorse trains would carry bales of wool, the source of the town's prosperity, to Bristol and Southampton. It was at The George that the legal business of the town was discussed too, and from here, around 1795, that the wagon for London departed twice a week.
In 1821 the name was changed when the building was sold to the Hon CN Noel for the considerable sum of £25. The Noel family has had a long association with Campden since Sir Baptist Hicks' daughter, Lady Juliana, married Edward Noel, Baron Noel of Kidlington, who later became Viscount Campden. Not everyone has been smitten. In The Diary of a Cotswold Parson, Reverend FE Witts found the hotel in 1836 'a very clean and neat place...'. Shame he didn't feel the same about Campden, describing it as a 'dull, clean, disused market town'.
During Victorian times, Noel Arms was an important coaching inn - with an omnibus meeting every train at the station - and provided the genteel face of Campden, hosting balls, dinners, even opera in its assembly room, with its fine oriel window, for the great and the good.
But it hasn't always been dinner suits and best frocks: in the 1930s, the courtyard behind the hotel played host to a travelling theatrical group, who visited the town and erected a large tent to entertain the folks of Campden; until the 1950s, it was the venue for the annual cattle show and pig market, and Noel Arms was the last inn in town to brew its own beer!
(Information courtesy of Campden & District Historical & Archaeological Society