Shabbington

Shabbington is a pretty village situated on a rounded hill above the river Thame, which divides the two counties, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. A hundred years ago it was an outlying part of the Waterperry Estate, when the farms and cottages were sold off at that time. There are about 8 farms that were mainly rich pasture land, but quite a few fields are arable now.
The character of the village has altered a lot in recent times. There used to be many thatched cottages. Some remain, having been renovated, but a lot were demolished and modern houses built on the sites. In the 1950s and 1960s we had several estates erected off different roads, which have proved very beneficial to the village.

Hundreds of years ago, we had an abbey in the field near the church. No trace of it remains but the outlines of the fishponds they used can still be traced close by the river.

At one time there was a watermill close to the river bridge and the river was diverted to send the water to turn the wheel. There still is the waterfall at that point, recently renovated and probably about 8 ft high.

We were fortunate in having a sewerage scheme put into the village in the 1890s, which was very foreseeing on someone's part and it was built so well that it has been very little altered since. For years, drinking water was fetched from the village pump in the centre. It was sparkling spring water and it was carried by a yoke and big buckets. This was an entertainment in itself as lots of people were there and all the news was soon passed round. This was all finished in the 1930s, when the mains water came. The old lamps were also thrown out at that time when electricity was installed.

We have always been fortunate in having a village stores and Post Office, which now is a wonderful meeting place. We have a small village hall, erected in 1929, which is ideal for meetings and children's parties, but for concerts and wedding receptions, we go to the larger halls in neighbouring villages.

Money was scarce in the 1920s. Farmers had probably a dozen men working and others walked miles and miles for employment, did a good days work and then had to walk home again. The cottage ladies found employment in the larger houses and some walked the 3V2 miles to Thame to work in the houses there and in the schools. They would wear long hessian aprons in the mornings and lovely white aprons in the late afternoon and evenings.

The farms are now run mainly by the farmers and their families, and the villagers find employment in commuting long distances in their cars.

A wonderful pageant was held at Long Crendon Manor in 1922. The east window of the church was in danger of falling out and had to be shored up. The pageant was held — everyone dressed up in period costume and crowds of people attended — the money rolled in and was enough to rebuild the east window.

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