Stokenchurch

Stokenchurch is a hill-top village in the Chilterns, on the Bucks/ Oxon border. The name Stokenchurch is believed to be derived from the 'The Church in the Stocken', that is a church built within a stockade to protect the inhabitants from animals and outlaws.
The earliest part of the church dates from the 12th century and was built of timber and thatch. Hannah Ball who founded the first English Sunday School lived in Mill Road and was buried in the churchyard in 1792.

It had always been an industrious village with five chair factories and three sawmills. Rush and cane seating was done by the women of the village at home. The rush and canes were brought from the river Thames by the Towerton cart. They were soaked in the ponds till used. The children collected the chairs and their mothers were paid 2d a chair. Completed chairs were taken to Oxford and High Wycombe by horse and cart.

Agriculture played a large part in village life as there were 14 farms in the area and a post windmill where grain was taken to be ground. Unfortunately it was blown down in 1926 and only the name of Mill Road remains.

At that time there were two butchers and slaughterers in the village. Stokenchurch suffered from water shortages as there was only one well in the centre of the village, dug by Colonel Fane and John Brown to a depth of 360 ft. Trailers of water were towed round the village by traction engine for the villagers to collect their water in buckets'at lVid each. Later there was a water tower built but was eventually demolished as a military exercise. The village had three wheelwrights and two blacksmiths. One wheelwright was situated where Tower Garage is now, and he was often seen running across the road with an iron rim to cool down in the dew pond opposite. The bakehouse was used during the week for breadmaking and on Sunday lunches were cooked for families at a cost of one dish for one penny, but meat, potatoes and batter would be a penny halfpenny

A brass band accompanies the Methodist Church Sunday School round the village prior to their sports and games day behind Coopers Court Farm. Stokenchurch also had a dance band and a town crier who walked round the village announcing all forthcoming events. The village had a 'lock-up' where troublemakers were put up for the night before being taken to Watling-ton Court the next day.
Lacemaking was done in the doorways on warm sunny days and tambour beading was also popular.
The common land was enclosed in 1861 under the General Closure Act and was reserved for the annual fair and horse sales on the 10th and 11th July. It also provided the village with goods not always available to them, and a service which was 'the extractor of teeth'. Teeth were pulled out for one shilling with a musical accompaniment to drown the yells of pain! In the surrounding woods chair bodgers worked with pole lathes making chair legs and backs for the factories.
When a death occurred in the village a death knell was rung, one for a child, two for a woman and three for a man, and would continue for one hour. There were three undertakers.

Milk was delivered from the farms by horse and float and was measured into the customer's own jug. The children played in the streets with hoops, spinning tops, skipping and marbles.

The village was famous for a local notable; Bartholomew Tipping. A secondary school has been named after him and was founded in 1675 for instructing twelve boys in reading, writing and accounts. He provided a schoolroom and a house for the schoolmaster, clothes for the boys - 'blue coats and breeches'. The house called Tippings is still in the village.

In the 1960s the coming of the M40 changed the character of the village with several housing estates being built when London became a reasonable commuting distance by motorway.

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