Whitchurch

Ours is a most friendly village where many human needs are supplied by a baker, builder, grocer, post office, hairdresser, several pubs, a doctor and of course a vicar. In the past there were even more tradesmen including a blacksmith, coalman and a shoemaker who worked with both hands and a mouth full of nails!
There are many large houses but gone are the days of 'Master and Servant'. To-day most of the inhabitants, apart from the farmers, work elsewhere.
The May Queen is crowned on Market Hill and with four attendants tours the village in a splendid 1909 Motor Car. The Morris Men dance as their predecessors did and Market Hill, once a trading centre, becomes a place of great amusement. The school children plait ribbons around a Maypole in a nearby garden. A cycle race around the Mound revives something of medieval life, for on this site once stood a castle surrounded by a moat. The famous building was destroyed by Cromwell and the stones were used to repair neigbouring churches, improve roads and supply some of the necessary material to help build many of the lovely cottages in the village to-day.

In our present age cars speed through the High Street and the occupants take little notice of the Old Court building, now an hotel. Across the road is the Whittle Hole: a perennially running spring that never freezes in winter. Before tap water came to the village this was the chief water supply and men wearing wooden yokes carried buckets of water. The inhabitants of a nearby house still use Whittle Hole water and brew the best cup of tea in the village.

The village stands high and commands splendid views of the county and beyond, as Rex Whistler's painting The Vale from Whitchurch will testify.

The church is the most important building full of interest and many craftsmen's marks can be seen on the pillars. The bells in the tower, as of old, are rung by local people. Nearby stands an old house, once inhabited by monks and centuries later became tenement homes but now it is a cared-for dwelling with a lovely walled garden. Across the road stands a stone-built chapel which houses an organ once owned by the Duke of Wellington. Both church and chapel people meet together and a feeling of unity lingers. Another chapel, no longer needed, houses the fire engines and most of the fire-fighters are local people.

The Hounds always frequented the village and the old people recall King Edward VII attending a Meet at Beechmoor. To-day there are difficulties, some caused by protesters and some by modern ways of life and the pack has united with neighbours. We still see Hounds but not so often.

Whitchurch with its white stone church on the hill adds its share in so many ways to the life and charm of Buckinghamshire.

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