Naphill

<p">According to records, at one time Naphill was just a clearing in the woods, a bolt hole for petty criminals, and the Common was a stop on the drovers' route from the west. Today, approached by a very steep winding hill from Hughenden Valley, it consists of a long main road high on a ridge which, until the 1940s, was bordered by hedgerows, orchards, fields and a few cottages and houses. Since Bomber Command (now Strike Command) settled at the north western end of the village, bringing an increase of traffic and houses, these natural boundaries have been replaced by pavements, brick walls and constant house building. But on either side footpaths abound, leading to a wealth of scenery — meadows, cornfields and beechwoods carpeted with bluebells in spring and in autumn a riot of colour.

 

In the 19th century there were plenty of industries — stone cutting; chalk mining (which in recent years has resulted in subsidence); brick-making from Naphil's clay cap; Baldwins, an engineering firm to which Wycombe chairmakers would walk on Saturdays to buy small hand tools; blacksmiths; wheelwrights ... all now gone. The late Jack Goodchild was one of the last remaining chair bodgers, a skilled craftsman who could have made a fortune, but in his tumble-down workshop would create beautiful wheelback chairs for friends at a low price.

In 1910 Gertrude Robins, a famous Edwardian actress living at Moseley Lodge at the time, wrote and produced a play in the old barn, using villagers in the cast, and famous literary critics, including G. K. Chesterton, came down and wrote about it in the national press. From then on drama played an important part in the life of the village and over the years they were successful under the guidance of several qualified drama teachers, including Fanny Dowson, a teacher at R.A.D.A. who once took the current team back stage to meet Sybil Thorndike (related to Fanny by marriage). Until recently there was a strong W.I. drama group, often winning a cup in W.I. Drama Festivals.
High on the Chilterns, midway between London and Oxford, not far from Windsor and the Thames beauty spots, Naphill has a lot to commend it; we who live here are indeed very fortunate.

According to records, at one time Naphill was just a clearing in the woods, a bolt hole for petty criminals, and the Common was a stop on the drovers' route from the west. Today, approached by a very steep winding hill from Hughenden Valley, it consists of a long main road high on a ridge which, until the 1940s, was bordered by hedgerows, orchards, fields and a few cottages and houses. Since Bomber Command (now Strike Command) settled at the north western end of the village, bringing an increase of traffic and houses, these natural boundaries have been replaced by pavements, brick walls and constant house building. But on either side footpaths abound, leading to a wealth of scenery — meadows, cornfields and beechwoods carpeted with bluebells in spring and in autumn a riot of colour.

In the 19th century there were plenty of industries — stone cutting; chalk mining (which in recent years has resulted in subsidence); brick-making from Naphill's clay cap; Baldwins, an engineering firm to which Wycombe chairmakers would walk on Saturdays to buy small hand tools; blacksmiths; wheelwrights ... all now gone. The late Jack Goodchild was one of the last remaining chair bodgers, a skilled craftsman who could have made a fortune, but in his tumble-down workshop would create beautiful wheelback chairs for friends at a low price.

In 1910 Gertrude Robins, a famous Edwardian actress living at Moseley Lodge at the time, wrote and produced a play in the old barn, using villagers in the cast, and famous literary critics, including G. K. Chesterton, came down and wrote about it in the national press.

High on the Chilterns, midway between London and Oxford, not far from Windsor and the Thames beauty spots, Naphill has a lot to commend it; we who live here are indeed very fortunate.

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