Chearsley

Chearsley is a small village of less than 500 inhabitants. The unknowing traveller can easily miss its charms as very little of the village is on view from the main road. The detour down the side of the hill, with the winding, hollow lanes, is worth taking.
The village probably developed from a collection of small scattered farmsteads which, by the 9th century, was known as 'Ceored's leah'. By the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, there may have been about 50 inhabitants. Later, the village developed on the north and east side of the church, and the remains of a medieval moat can be seen in the field between the church and the river Thame.

Many of the cottages are thatched, and if a walk is taken down School Lane, there is an old terrace of cottages, which used to house the lace makers of yesteryear. If the electricity wires are ignored, one can almost see the ladies, with their straw pillows and bobbins, sitting outside the cottages, making their beautiful Buckinghamshire lace patterns. This is also the spot where the ratcatcher used to frighten the girls coming out of school! He would save the little white mice he had caught and place them under his hat. On seeing the schoolgirls, he would raise the hat in true gentlemanly fashion, and the mice would cascade to the ground!

In the Conservation area, Watts Green is particularly picturesque, with its mixture of thatched, timber and witchert dwellings. This was once the 'tradesmen's' section of the village, with a shop, ale-house, cobbler's shop and nail-makers shed in close proximity to each other, around the green. The nail-maker's shed can still be seen in the garden of 'Needlemakers' cottage, but, sadly, the matching cobbler's shed on the other side of the lane was destroyed.
At the bottom of the hill, stands the 12th/13th century church.  This little building with its simple white interior, is much loved by all who visit.
Near the church, is a spring which trickles into a pond, known as Stockwell. It is suspected that this is the holy well to which pilgrims made homage in previous centuries. Chearsley has many springs and often water can be heard running through the road drains in the driest of weather. Stockwell was still running in the famous drought of 1976.


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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