Frieth

There are only some two hundred houses in our small village. These surround a square of lanes with Frieth Hill forming one side.
The name Frieth is said to have come from a word meaning forest; an aerial view of the village still shows this to be true, for Frieth appears as a patch of open fields and houses cut out from the surrounding woods.
One could say that Frieth is a comparatively new village, as its little Victorian church was built in 1848. The church stands at the top of the hill beside the village green and its best architectural features are its wood carving and stained glass. Most of the woodwork was done by the firm of West and Collier whose factory was in the village and who employed and housed many of the villagers. The firm specialised in making chairs and carved woodwork for churches and cathedrals and its products were sent all over the world. Sadly, the firm closed during the Second World War.

Most of the beautiful stained glass windows in Frieth Church are by Kempe and were the gift of the Cripps family who lived at Parmoor House until 1948. Probably the most well-known member of Lord Parmoor's family was his youngest son, Sir Stafford Cripps, a famous Chancellor of the Exchequer. Lord Parmoor was referred to as The Squire, and the village owes much to his philanthropy. He owned most of the farms in the northern half of Hambleden parish. But that is all in the past. Now the farmland around Frieth is divided into four large units and no farm labourers live in the village itself. Parmoor House is St Katharine's Convent, and a community of Anglican nuns run it as a home for the elderly.

Ours is not a tourist village like Hambleden, Fingest or Turville, nor will you find Frieth in the many publications about the Chilterns, but we have an undefinable something that welds us into a community. Perhaps we have been fortunate that new buildings have come gradually; one can find an example of most building periods here. Frieth has been spared the large housing estates which could have been difficult to assimilate. Also, the majority of people who have moved into the village have done so because they saw a quality in village life they had failed to find elsewhere. The remark often made, and one we like to hear, is that Frieth is a caring friendly village. Half a century ago no Frieth man would have met another without the friendly greeting, 'Ow be on'. Yes, we still say, 'Good-morning' to one another!

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission