The hamlet of Hitcham lies between the villages of Taplow and Burnham. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book, at which time about thirteen families resided there. The ancient church of St Mary dates from about 1126 and in that century the first stone building was erected, of which the present nave walls appear to have formed a part.
The Lords of the Manor were often high-ranking officials of Church or State and the cottagers mainly would work for them, or for the tenant farmers. They lived near the manor house, which was north of the church. Lord Grenville — Prime Minister in 1806—07 — purchased the house in 1780 and the Lordship of the Manor in 1796. He acquired more land and built a new house called Dropmore Lodge. The old manor house became a school but was destroyed by fire in 1840.

Lord Grenville and his wife both died in the middle of the 19th century. Mr George Hanbury then bought lands around the church, including the old manor house site. He built Hitcham House, which still stands to the south of the church. He built a school (two rooms costing £350) and a reading room.

New roads, a new bridge over the Thames at Maidenhead and the coming of the Great Western Railway caused New Town to spring up in the south of Hitcham parish. There were a few shops and a pub, the Retreat. The general store, kept by Mr Wakefield, offered haircutting among the groceries! The shops have now changed or vanished. Some of them, being wooden, literally fell down. The public house moved into larger premises and still continues today, as the Maypole Inn. This area became the new centre of population.

In the north of the parish stands Nashdom Abbey. The name Nashdom is the Russian equivalent of 'Our House'. This property was built for Prince Alexis Dolgorouki in 1907-8 who engaged Sir Edwin Lutyens as the architect. The prince and princess did not live long in their impressive new house. They were both dead by 1919 and are buried in the churchyard of St Mary's church. This grave has a monument which incorporates a Russian icon. After 1919 the house was leased for a time to various tenants and in 1924 became the property of a community of Anglican Benedictine monks. It is the only Abbey of Benedictine monks in the Church of England.

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