Hyde Heath

Hyde Heath, the name for which possibly comes from 'the heath belonging to one William de Hyde', is described in one guide book as, '. . . a common with small houses ... probably an early squatting settlement' and in another as 'a scattered district on high ground'. Neither of which are accurate descriptions of our present-day village, to which three parishes can lay claim, their boundaries converging on the Common.

In the latter half of the 19th century, the Ordnance Survey map shows little evidence for the village of Hyde Heath. There were a small number of houses clustered around Brays Green, a similar number around an inn on what is now the Common and a more significant number at what is now Hyde End. The map marks Hyde Heath 1.5 miles north west of the present village. At that time most of the people would have worked on the local farms and in the houses of the local gentry; the nearby Shardeloes Estate and Hyde Hall, where Disraeli stayed, (now Hyde House) being notable examples.

During this century a mixture of different types of houses have gradually been built to give the village its present form, spreading away from the Common to the south. These developments have given the village a new lease of life; children for the school, support for the many societies and customers for the village shops.

As there is very little employment in the village itself and being near the railway station at Amersham, many residents work in London. People also commute to the nearby towns of High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Amersham. Despite working outside the village, however, residents old and new have developed a pride in their village and the beautiful surrounding countryside.

The Common has only been the open mowed space it is now for about 25 years. Previously it was covered in scrub and gorse and criss-crossed with paths to the cottages and the old chapel. Now there is a cricket pitch, pavilion and a children's play area. It is the scene each year of the village fete; primarily a fundraising event in aid of the Village Hall. The amount of talent drawn out by this type of event is amazing and most of the village lends a helping hand.
The village can boast of no ghost, scandal or legend but it has one claim to fame. In the last war, one enterprising lady applied to the Government for extra sugar to enable her to preserve fruit with her own canning equipment. The idea grew until the house, now demolished, was converted into a small but highly successful canning factory. It received its crowning glory with a visit by Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother) in 1940.

Hyde Heath is a coming together of old and new, a village off the beaten track, in very few guide books and on the edge of most maps. A village most people would not give a second glance to; but for those of us who live here in the charm of the Chilterns, it is a village where it is almost impossible not to join in the enthusiastic life of the community. Long may it survive.

This article was written by Enid Picton for 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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