Ibstone

The small village of Ibstone straddles a ridge of the Chiltern Hills approximately ten miles west of High Wycombe. Some village points afford magnificent views of the Hambleden Valley below. The origins of Ibstone go back before the Norman Conquest and the village was included in the Domesday Survey of 1086 at which time it was called Hibestanes.
Merton College, Oxford, has been associated with the village from 1270 until very recently when John Paul Getty Junior purchased their common land holdings. In 1284 there were 26 tenant farmers. Their holdings ranged in size from very small to 25 acres with over half being of 10 acres or more. Ibstone remained a farming community until mains water and electricity came into the village in 1935. In 1852 the first of the present school buildings was erected. At that date the village population was 310 with some 50 children at school. There were five farms, two pubs, a grocer, post office, a wheelwright and a blacksmith. The village was a thriving self-supporting community.

There has been a church for over 1,000 years. The present building dates from about 1200 and has many interesting features including one of the oldest wooden pulpits in England. Like many villages, Ibstone has a windmill - Copstone Mill which was originally built in 1274. The present building dates from the 18th century and is an unusual 12-sided smock mill. This mill has featured in many films and T.V. productions but will principally be remembered as the family home in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

John Wesley recorded that he preached at Ibstone on two separate occasions in 1767 and 1769. It was not until 1862 that a Methodist Chapel was established which continued to be used as a religious meeting place for approximately 100 years. Local legend has it that an attempt was made to build another church on a new site in Grays Lane, but the Devil objected to a church being built on his property so that the rising structure repeatedly fell giving that particular spot its present name of Hell Corner.

A village custom is carol singing. A group of singers led by the headmaster visit every house in the village on the two evenings before Christmas and receive hospitality from many homes.

The village has held a firework display and bonfire on the Common on November 5th since the early 1970s. Soup and sausages help to keep out the cold. One of the major events in Ibstone's calendar is the village show and fete which is organised by the local Horticultural Society and is held on the Common on the second Saturday in August. This is a very popular event which attracts many people from South Bucks. Any profit is donated to local charities.

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