Bledlow Ridge

Bledlow Ridge is a long stretch of roadway that winds up a steep ascent from West Wycombe over the Chiltern Hills towards Oxfordshire. It is part of the ancient parish of Bledlow and gets a mention in the Domesday Book. The name means 'Bloody Hill' and commemorates a fierce battle between the Danes and the Saxons. It goes further back into history than that. Impressions exist of hut circles and the occasional fragments of pottery and implements, which together with the nearness of the Icknield Way, indicate a Romano-British settlement of around 300 BC. From time to time, iron cannon balls, silver shoe buckles and coin of the early Stuart kings are unearthed, evidence of a battle between the Royalists and the Roundheads in the Civil War and the famous victory for the Royalists at Chinnor in 1643.
Bledlow Ridge was mostly common land in those days. On the common stood an Elizabethan farmhouse where Cromwell stabled his horse in one of the adjoining barns. As recently as the last couple of decades, a sword of the period was discovered concealed in the wide chimney of an open fireplace. Pankridge now faces onto a busy road, no longer a farm but an integral part of the village and centre of many social gatherings.

In 1917, Loxborough House at the top of Loxborough Hill, once regarded as the Manor House, was acquired by a Mr Henry O'Reilly Stevens, the maker of the famous Stevens Ink. The grounds were a popular venue for garden parties and similar festivities that raised money for village needs. By this means a Parish Institute was built.

There are houses on the Ridge that date from over 300 years ago. Among these was The Old Mansion noted for a large loft where fleeces were stored for collection by woolpack men who plied their trade between Wantage and London. Three of these nomadic people named Brooks squatted on nearby land called The Scrubbs. Several families all bearing the same name was the result, making it necessary to distinguish them by adding the name of their dwelling or occupation. Some had Bible names — Able, Isaac and even Moses. The name 'The City' mystifies newcomers. There are two explanations: refugees fleeing from the City of London sought protection there from the Great Plague of 1666 or it was a hideout for a City Guild with good reason to escape from the Bow Street Runners.

Changes took place at The Old Mansion in 1918 when Sir William and Lady Lister bought it as a country residence. A nephew of Lord Lister of antiseptics fame, Sir William was consulting oculist to King George V and surgeon oculist to His Majesty's Household. During the Second World War, Sir William developed a portable electro-magnetic device for removing foreign bodies from the eye.
Bledlow Ridge W.I. has earned a place in local history for its phenomenal jam making record during the Second World War. They produced 25 cwt. from a glut of cottage garden grown greengages the like of which had never been known before or since. Their efforts received high praise from the County.

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