Little Kingshill

The origins of the village date back to around 900 AD when a monastery was founded where Ashwell Farm (Kingshall) now stands. William the Conqueror gave a Manor and lands to a Saxon nobleman, the Earl of Aufrics, but the lands reverted back to the Crown after the Earl's death. The road through the village was used by drovers of cattle being taken to market in London in medieval times and soldiers protected their progress and had barracks here. As well as Ashwell Farm there is a Tudor house, The Grange, next to the Common, Aufrics Farm of Elizabethan period, and Boot Farm dating back to 1660.
The coming of the Railway through Great Missenden at the end of the last century was a turning point, as people were able to go to business in London, and country houses began to be built for them. The village school too was built in 1887, and is still in use for pre-school children.

Life in the village was very different in the 1920s. No buses then, but there was a laundry, village store and bakery which included a sub post office, and the shops in Great Missenden delivered goods to the door. The baker came three times a week in a horse and cart, and a van brought fish, fruit and vegetables. Fresh roast and ground coffee and groceries from Mr Brown's shop and meat from Stevens the butcher were delivered weekly. The postman arrived at 7.50 a.m. precisely, on a bicycle and in uniform, to deliver letters posted the night before, and a second delivery in the afternoon at 4 p.m. At first there was no electricity, and grates and ranges did the heating and cooking, but soon it was connected and we stood by the switches and all switched on together.
The social life was vigorous and the old Memorial Hall was in constant use for many village activities.

Most men in the village then worked in High Wycombe in the furniture trade, and on the land, while the women did domestic work and bead and sequin work at home. This was sent down from London to one person who gave it out to the various workers and then collected and returned it. The traced material was stretched on a frame, wrong-side up, and the beads on long threads were hooked up from beneath.

The country around was famous for its cherry orchards and older residents will remember the guns banging off and wooden clappers clattering at dawn 'bird starving'. The Bucks black cherries are dark and small and perfectly delicious especially when cooked in cherry turnovers, the local speciality. Many people went cherry picking and casual labour was employed. Nearly all the orchards have been cut down to make room for the explosion of new houses built since the Second World War.

It is hard to tell what the people who live here now do for a living, as they leap into their cars and vanish for the day. Plenty of retired folk have come to enjoy the peace of the lovely countryside, though traffic, mowers, aeroplanes and screaming saws may have disillusioned them somewhat. Those newcomers who really take an interest are a splendid group and can be relied on to keep the village spirit alive still.

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

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