Wendover

Wendover isn't just a pretty place. As with an interesting person, it has character as well as looks. Described as enjoying 'unsurpassed views of the Chiltern Hills', Wendover is situated at the foot of the escarpment on the edge of the Vale of Aylesbury and the High Street lies along a fragment of the ancient Icknield Way. Today, walkers with packs on their backs can be seen, winter and summer, swinging into their stride as they pass through Wendover as they retrace the old road.
Famous names have been associated with Wendover. John Hampden who opposed the imposition of ship money which triggered off the Civil War, and Edmund Burke, represented Wendover as M.P.s in 1623 and 1796 respectively, and John Colet, founder of St Paul's School, London, whose father was twice Lord Mayor of London. The notorious hanging Judge Jeffreys stayed in Wellwick House (the lane to which is said to be the haunt of the Wendover ghost).
In the past the women of Wendover were occupied in splitting and plaiting straw for the Luton hat trade and with the making of Bucks lace. Today this sort of occupation is more likely to be taking place at one of the W.I.s or at evening classes.

Wendover has many interesting buildings including two mills, one of which is an unusual tower-windmill, now sail-less and converted to a dwelling house. A resident of ninety, whose father worked at the windmill pointed out the mill cottage in which he was born - what continuity! There are some lovely houses of various periods. Some are thatched, as are the 16th century Cold-Harbour cottages given to Katherine of Aragon as part of her dowry, by Henry VIII. There are Georgian, Victorian and such new constructions as the attractive Health Centre and the modern row of shops called the Tanyard; of extremely pleasing but completely modern design. The name links the old with the new, reminding the contemporary inhabitants of the occupations of their predecessors, when tanning, rope-making, metal-casting and all the industries of a self-supporting community were carried on. Now employment is found in the small industries in the area or in the varied shops or in the places of refreshment which abound in Wendover.

Of the many hostelries the Red Lion has the longest lineage. First licenced 400 years ago, it has boasted the patronage of Oliver Cromwell, Robert Louis Stevenson and poet Rupert Brooke. From here a two-horse bus used to operate to London. Now commuting inhabitants can travel easily by train, the line having just been reprieved from threatened closure. Many people commute to Aylesbury or other towns and villages and the continual increase in road traffic is making the much desired by-pass more urgent. The village being anxious to find the most acceptable and least destructive route so that its individual character and atmosphere can be preserved.

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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