Hambleden

Hambleden Mill today stands sentinel on a backwater of the river Thames at the entrance to the beautiful Hambleden Valley, as it did when recorded in the Domesday Book. It remained a working mill until 1958 and, although recently converted into modern flats, the exterior appearance has been retained. The mill race still meanders by and now creates a marina. A long walkway over the weir leads to the lock and a short distance along the towpath towards Henley the imposing house 'Greenlands' comes into view. Once the site of a siege during the Civil War, it later became the setting for a Victorian mansion where the Rt. Hon. W. H. Smith, M.P., son of the founder of the bookstall business settled in 1858. It is now the Henley Management College.
The first landmark on the road to Hambleden is Yewden Manor with its ancient avenue of yew trees. A modern car park nearby serves the needs of visitors to the river and close to this is the site of a Roman Villa which was excavated in 1914.

The present Manor House, dating from 1604, is situated in the village itself. Lord Cardigan, leader of the charge of the Light Brigade, was born there. Since 1923, the manor has been owned by the W. H. Smith family, bearing the name of Viscount Hambleden.

The village buildings form a triangle around the village pump-still in full working order beneath its chestnut tree. The parish church stands commandingly along the northern edge. Its origins date back to ancient times, but much has been rebuilt, extended and restored over the centuries. Four weather vanes of local ironwork surmount the tower which houses six bells still regularly rung.
The houses of the village are a blend of brick, flint, wood and plaster, some part tiled, but form a harmonious entity. Great care is taken to maintain the attractiveness of this unspoilt village. Even the telephone box has been incorporated into the post office wall and the petrol pump housed within the garage building. The village amenities also include a general stores, smithy, butcher, builder, tree specialist and The Stag & Huntsman, as well as a Parish Hall, social club and the doctor's surgery. The village school was originally situated in what is now part of the Parish Hall. The new school was built on the hillside overlooking the village in 1890 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. As long ago as 1820 there was a lace school where local girls learned also to read and write. Lacemaking and straw plaiting were local industries in the last century.

Although the village lies centrally in the Hambleden valley, it contains no farms. The farmhouses and buildings, both ancient and modern, are dotted around at Mill End, Rotten Row, Borough, Chisbridge, Rockwell End and Colstrope. Smaller farms have been absorbed into larger ones and a number have become private dwellings.

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

Additional information