Memories of Studley Green

As a child I lived in Studley Green on the main London to Oxford Road, about six miles west of High Wycombe. The roads were made of flint, and were dusty and full of pot holes. Women wearing large sacking aprons used to go into the fields stone picking for a few pence. These stones were collected up and put into large heaps by the roadside and were then used for filling the holes and were rolled in by a steamroller. Traffic at that time was mostly horse drawn.
When the beech trees were felled in the woods, the tops were cut off and sold to local people for firewood. Then heavy chains were fixed round the logs and teams of horses dragged these through the woods to waiting timber wagons. They were then taken to the sawmills to be cut up into planks ready for chairmaking. I have stood and watched chair legs being made locally with the old pole lathe. We could buy a large bag of wood chips or shavings for a few pence. The chair legs were taken to High Wycombe or Stokenchurch by horse and cart to be put with other parts and made into chairs, some with solid seats, some cane or rush matting seats done by local women in their own homes. The main industry of High Wycombe and district was chairmaking and the town at one time was noted for chairs, chapels and children.

All the houses in the district were lit by oil lamps. Sanitation was very primitive, usually in a little wooden hut down the garden or in an outhouse.
Water for all purposes came from rain water tanks in the garden, pumped up with a hand pump near the sink. One year was a very dry summer and the tanks ran dry. We flocked down to a well in the woods and drew up lovely spring water—men and women with buckets slung from a wooden yoke round their shoulders, slats of wood called 'swimmers' were placed on top of the water in the buckets to avoid spillage. We had a long walk to get to the well, down a stony road called the 'pitch' to Beacons Bottom, a hamlet in the valley, then across meadows into Bottom Wood. The hamlet of Beacons Bottom lies in the valley a quarter of a mile down a side road, past the Harrow and rows of old cottages. In the summer, two local women sat at their door, making Bucks pillow lace. I used to watch their nimble fingers moving the bobbins. At the far end was a low thatch-roofed workshop where chair legs were turned with the pole lathe. At one time, there was a public house, the local school, and a flint and slate-roofed Methodist chapel. I attended both as a child.

When the new Dashwood Hill was made, the roads were tarmaced over as cars were becoming more numerous. The most popular at that time were -the old bull-nosed Morris Cowley cars, 'T' Fords, Swift two-seaters and later Austin Sevens.

These are some of my childhood memories, when we were content with simple pleasures and very happy.

Winifred D. Newell, Sands


Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes

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