Loosley Row & Lacey Green

Loosley Row and Lacey Green are really one fair-sized village in the Chilterns, an area of outstanding natural beauty, between High Wycombe and Princes Risborough. Lacey Green is on the ridge, Loosley Row half way up the side of the valley. They began as small farming settlements in ancient times but have expanded considerably. While the greater part of the land in the area is farmed, only a small number of people work in that industry. Some work in nearby towns or in other organisations in the countryside, such as timber research or R.A.F. Strike Command in the next village, others travel much farther afield, including Lon­don.

There is no stately home or old manor house warranting men­tion in guidebooks but Lacey Green does have some claim to minor fame, even notoriety in one case. One old house is Malms-mead in Kiln Lane where, in 1913, there lived Smithson and Sikes, expert burglars and housebreakers. These appeared to be respect­able gentlemen, regularly travelling up to London by train to work, when they were in reality travelling to seventeen counties, from where the proceeds of their robberies were brought to the house in Lacey Green, which the police eventually raided. They eventually spent many years in gaol for crimes involving property to the value of a quarter of a million pounds, a fantastic amount in those days.

An outstanding feature is the smock mill which stands back from the road at the highest point. It is probably the oldest surviving smock mill and third oldest windmill in the U.K. and was built at Chesham in 1650, moved to its present site in 1821 and worked last in 1917. Chiltern Society members have worked voluntarily for years to restore it, with help from local firms and Wycombe College and it will be working eventually. The machin­ery, thought to be original, has been restored and a granary from Princes Risborough Town Farm has been re-erected next to the mill. It is open to the public on Sunday and Bank Holiday afternoons, with wardens from the Chiltern Society on hand to explain its restoration and workings.

Just down the road from the Village Hall is Stocken Farm, the largest farm hereabouts and much known and visited by the general public. Its known history goes back to the days of Elizabeth I, and the wife of the present owner has researched and made known many interesting facts about it. The farmer invites local school children to look over and learn about the farm and holds occasional open days, when many people go to what amounts to a 'fete' with educational entertainment, stalls and rides. Here the local entertainment society 'Lacey Green Produc­tions' stage their bi-annual musical show in a large barn which  normally stores grain, building a full-sized stage with theatre lighting and sound, scenery etc. The cast rehearses for weeks beforehand, the technicians working for much of that time; the calf-rearing sheds are used for changing rooms, loo tents appear, a field is made available for a car park for each night of the performances and the profit goes to a hospice for dying children.

Another place to visit is the Forge in Loosley Row, a craft industry which has been there for two hundred years, connected with the same family. Near, but just beyond the village, there is the Home of Rest for Horses, Westcroft Stables, Speen and the Pink & Lily public house, with its connections with Rupert Brooke the poet.

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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