Haddenham

Church End Green is the focal point of the village. It was the Saxons who built a church by the side of the green, so maybe we owe this lovely "scene to Hadda the Saxon thane. It is thought the name of the village came from 'Hadda's Hame' becoming Haddenham. The church as we know it today was built about 1215, at least it was begun then, the Lady Chapel being the oldest part. In 1295 Edward I granted Haddenham a Charter to hold a weekly market and annual fair. The weekly market has long since gone but we still celebrate our Haddenham Feast with an open-air service and a fair in late September every year. Once it was the high spot of the year when a day's holiday was given to all the farm workers (the only holiday other than Christmas Day) and sons and daughters from miles around came home for the fun.
The house names round the green tell some of their history; the Malt House where once there was a brewery; Eight Bells and the Anchorage which were both inns. Haddenham had a great many at one time. At the back of the pond is the entrance to Church End Farm which goes back in history nearly as long as the church and has a fine tithe barn. When the Norman Archbishop Landfranc held the church this was the seat of power for his agent.

Churchway is the main road through the village. Flint Street which leads away from the Church was once the main thoroughfare of the village. Its old houses are all picturesque and stand close to one another. In times past it was Duck Street, emphasising once the main trade of the village.

The Green Dragon is one of the most thriving pubs in the village. It's had an interesting past, as the manorial courts used to be held there. The Green Dragon was the emblem of the Earls of Pembroke who had authority here for a while after the Reformation. Someway further down on the other side is the Beehive, a village store (reputed to have a ghost). There has been a shop here for hundreds of years. It used to sell all kinds of things including items of clothing for the village families, but now it is a specialist grocer.

The old high walls in Haddenham are rather special. Modern ones are of breeze-block and rendered, but they copy the old, some still remaining, and they used to line every street. They were made of a kind of clay called witchert that is peculiar to this area. A stone base of about 18 inches was covered by the clay held in place until set by wooden shutters. Cottages used to be built like this too and the Baptist and Methodist Churches in Haddenham are built of witchert. The tops of the walls were thatched to keep the wet from going down into the clay. From this sprang the old saying 'Silly Haddenham who thatched the ponds to keep the ducks dry'. Not really so silly as the wide eaves over the pond sheltered the little ducks who do indeed drown if their early feathers are not protected from the rain.

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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