Holmer Green

'People just don't want to move from Holmer Green' commented someone on the fact that many try to secure another house in the village when requiring a larger or smaller property. This thriving community of around 5,000 lies on the plateau of the Chilterns between the Misbourne valley to the north east and the Wye Valley to the south west, over 500 ft above sea level.
Although references to the Manor of Holmer may be traced in the Domesday Survey, by the middle of the 19th century Holmer Green was still only a scattered formless settlement; but the appearance of the village was transformed almost overnight with the adoption of the Inclosure Award of 1854 involving as it did a new pattern of roads and fields and the ploughing up of large tracts of common land. One important feature of this new layout was the Holmer Green Common, allotted to the Lord of the Manor on condition that it was to be fenced in, stocked with sheep and used for the recreation of the inhabitants. When a hundred years later Lord Howe sold certain land in Holmer Green together with a corresponding part of his interest in the Lordship of the Manor, the purchaser very generously decided to give the Common to the Parish Council, in whose possession it now remains.

One feature of the Inclosure Award was the dedication of certain ponds or watering places to the public. One of these was Holmer Pond itself, which was elaborately improved by the Parish Council about twenty years ago and is now a most attractive feature and focal point of the village. The Pond Committee is responsible for keeping its surround well stocked with flowers and shrubs, not forgetting the ducks which tend to get overfed by enthusiastic children.

In the early part of this century timber conversion and the turning of chair-legs (by 'bodgers') were a staple occupation in cottage workshops or in the woods, while other labour was absorbed by the local chair factory in Factory Street (renamed Orchard Way). In June the village became a rather noisy place because of the various devices to scare the birds away from the cherry orchards! Tambour beadwork was carried on right up to the present day, and past examples have been known to embellish the gown of famous actresses and even a royal bride.

Today many Holmer Green residents commute to London or to its outskirts as well as working in High Wycombe or other nearby towns. Employment is also provided by the many small firms on the Chiltern Trading Estate in the village.
An outstanding feature of Holmer Green has been the rapid expansion of its population which more than trebled between 1946 and 1974", and this has been reflected in new housing, modern roads, pavements, street lighting and greatly increased traffic.

One casualty of this development is the house Polidores where the young Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti used to stay. This is commemorated by a small close called Rossetti Place. An interesting building still standing is Pear Tree Cottage, built in 1703. In the 18th century it was a place of refuge for travellers crossing Holmer Heath and known as Workhouse Cottages. This building now belongs to the Parish Council - a Council house with a difference!

No such short account of a village and its history can do justice to the people - from all walks of life, whether natives or newcomers - who through the years have helped to build up the lively, friendly and hard working community we know today. As someone has remarked, in spite of all its development Holmer Green is still a village at heart.

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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