West Wycombe


Church: St Lawrence

Hundred: Desborough

Poor Law District: Wycombe

Size (acres): 6533

Easting & Northing: 482194

Grid Ref SU820940 Click to see map


Names & Places

West Wycombe PARISH St Lawrence
Abraham Down NAMES name for Averingdon in 1826
Charley NAMES name fo Chorley in 1825
Disborough NAMES name for Desborough Castle in 1797
Disborowe NAMES name for Desborough Castle in 1626
Havern Down NAMES name for Averingdon in 1766
Wicumbe NAMES name fo Wycombe in Domesday Book in 1086
Congregational NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: 1808
Weslyan NON-CONFORMIST Moor House, Downley. First Mentioned: 1824
Weslyan NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: 1815. Moved to present chapel in 1894
Averingdown (Fm) PLACE within the parish
Booker PLACE within the parish
Bradenham Hill PLACE within the parish
Chawley (Fm) PLACE within the parish
Chorley (Fm) PLACE within the parish
Cooks Hall PLACE within the parish
Desborough Castle PLACE within the parish
Downley PLACE within the parish
Fastendich (lost) PLACE within the parish
Fillington (Fm) PLACE within the parish
Green End PLACE within the parish
Hearnton Wood PLACE within the parish
Huckingdon PLACE within the parish
Lane End (Part) PLACE within the parish
Littleworth PLACE within the parish
Loxboro Wood PLACE within the parish
Naphill Common PLACE within the parish
Park Lane PLACE within the parish
Phillingdon PLACE within the parish
Plomer Hill PLACE within the parish
Sands PLACE within the parish
Tilbury Wood PLACE within the parish
Toweridge PLACE within the parish
Wheeler End (Part) PLACE within the parish
Widdenton Park Wood PLACE within the parish




These population figures are based on the Census results. The boundaries are those used in the particular census which may vary over time..

1801 1330
1811 1362
1821 1545
1831 1901
1841 2002
1851 2000
1861 2161
1871 2343
1881 2390
1891 2599
1901 3466
1911 2931
1921 2400
1931 3304
1941 N/A
1951 1869
1961 1794
1971 2609
1981 1103
1991 1160

There was no census in 1941.



Parish  Church  Register  Start
West Wycombe   St Lawrence   Baptisms   1602   1901   Yes,
click here
click here
Not available
West Wycombe   St Lawrence   Marriages   1576   1877   Yes,
click here
click here
Not available
West Wycombe   St Lawrence   Burials   1602   1901   Yes,
click here
click here
Not available




These were extracted from our own records and presented as a guide.

PositionBefore 1700  18th Century  19th Century  Overall Surnames  



The village of Booker is situated almost halfway between Lane End and West Wycombe. In the 13th century it was known as the tithing of Bokar and Booker Common is at least 900 years old. The Dashwood family of West Wycombe has held the estate for almost 300 years.

Many changes have taken place in recent years. Housing estates and new roads have replaced fields and hedgerows. Old maps show a brickfield and two isolation hospitals. One of these is now Booker Hospital and the other a residential home for the elderly called Beechlands.

It is said that in the 1920s, Mr Chadwick, the High Wycombe Sanitary Inspector, had the task of transporting infectious patients to the hospital. One day in Cressex Lane the floor of the conveyance collapsed, leaving the patients to walk the rest of the way, still inside the ambulance!

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


Green fields, cart tracks and beech trees, that was Downley in the old days, long before new roads and housing estates took over. A cart track past Kiln Pond led from the village through the woods down a sunken lane to West Wycombe at the Pedestal. The local burial ground was on the hill at the church of St Lawrence and so funeral processions would make their way down this bumpy track, the coffins sometimes being carried, should they fall off the cart.

The other way from the village was down Plomer Hill down the Pitch to join up with West Wycombe Road and so on to Wycombe for shopping. There were no buses until 1927. In 1928, a Mr Holland of the Pioneer Bus Company ran the first bus service. The bus waited at the Pond, opposite where the Downley Donkey now stands, until all the regular customers arrived. One bus left High Wycombe for Downley at mid-day and returned at 12.50 p.m. so that people who worked at Frogmore could go home for dinner, there being no canteens in those days.


There is a cottage in Littleworth Road called Peter's Cottage, named after Peter Smith; his father was nicknamed Jimmy Two-bits. Tradition has it that he acquired this name when sitting over the fire one Sunday morning watching the dinner cooking. His wife called to him and said 'How's the meat cooking?' He lifted the lid and replied 'Which bit?' His wife told him that there was only one bit, but James said 'No, there's two!' On inspection it turned out that a frog had been put in with the water from the well!

Mr Dicky Gray was one of the village characters, with his long grey beard, a sacking apron tied round his middle with a piece of string and a cap with ear flaps stuck on his head. His string of donkeys would plod behind him as he set off down Plomer Green Lane shouting out 'Whoa Parker, hurry along Jenny'.

The Common was widely used; horses, sheep, goats grazed there and sometimes geese.

In the middle of the village there was a furniture factory built of wood and owned by Mr Bridgewater Spriggs. Mines and West's offices now stand on that site. Most of the timber was brought from the saw mills in High Wycombe by horse and cart, but the first commercial motor transport in Downley was a motor-cycle and side-car.

There have been many changes in Downley since those days. Only a part of Downley Village remains unchanged. The rest is joined up with High Wycombe. We have still the Memorial Hall which serves many organisations but now we have also the Church Hall and the Pastures Methodist Hall.

St James Church serves both the Church of England and the Church of Rome. There are Methodist Chapels on Sunny Bank and in the Pastures. There is also a Baptist Chapel.

There are many organisations to cater for different tastes and meet the demands of young and old.

Fortunately the furniture industry continues to thrive and Mines and West specialise in hand made furniture.

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




Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the Manor of Wicumbe (West Wycombe) was held by Wakelin, Bishop of Winchester and was and is for the supplies of the monks of the Church of Winchester. There were 27 villagers, 8 smallholders and 7 slaves! There were also 3 mills on the river Wye which passes through the village, a fishery with a thousand eels and a thousand pigs kept.

The village has remained unspoilt because until the early part of this century it formed part of the West Wycombe Estate which was purchased by the Dashwood family in 1698. Sir Francis Dash-wood was created Premier Baronet of Great Britain in 1707 and thus forged the links with the family and village which continue to the present day. The present Baronet, another Sir Francis, is the eleventh holder of the title. In the middle of the 18 th century, the second Baronet undertook the re-building of his country home, following the Italian Palladian style of architecture, bringing painters from Italy to carry out this work. He also re-built and enlarged the ancient parish church on the hill opposite his House in the same style and the church tower was topped with the Golden Ball - a copy of a similar one to be found on the Customs Building at Venice.

In 1929 a large portion of the village was purchased by the Royal Society of Arts which repaired and modernised the houses which date from the 16th and 18th centuries. Later, in 1934, the National Trust acquired these properties from the Royal Society and has continued to maintain the village in its present state.

Older residents remember many incidents of their childhood in the village. Mrs Potter recalls when her family spent many happy times sledging, exploring the caves and climbing on the hill. 'We used to go in the caves and paid one penny for a candle. On one occasion some boys were hiding there and blew our candles out. We were scared, but fortunately we were not too far from the entrance, so soon got out! We often climbed the hill and some brave ones even climbed the church tower. We used to have Sunday School treats on the hill'.

Mrs Fryer remembers choosing a few cheap sweets from Katy Rippington's shop. She was so precise that it is said that she would cut a sweet in half to get the weight exactly right! Mrs Carter's bay window offered further delights. Here, for a halfpenny or even a farthing, Mrs Carter would brush off the flies and wasps from the sweetie boxes and drop a few coveted suckers into a hand-twisted paper cone.

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


My father was a Windsor frame maker and we lived in Crown Court, West Wycombe. There were seven girls and one boy in my family and my mother kept a little shop just down the lane selling sweets, cigarettes and soft drinks, to help out. In summer we hired out sledges and also boiled water for picnic teas. Sledging
down West Wycombe Hill is a summer sport. The grass is grazed very short by rabbits and the sledges are the backs of Windsor chairs with slats fastened
across them and made slippery with linseed oil.

My mother had to pay twopence a week per child for our schooling, which amounted to quite a large sum in those days. As soon as I had passed my exams I left school and went to work at G. North & Sons as a rush and fancy straw worker. I was eleven years old and worked there until I married at twenty-one.
I remember having nightmares for a week when they took up the floor boards in our cottage and found the skeleton of a man under there. We never did find out how long he'd been there or who he was.

I once saw a man who had hung himself in Brench Wood. We young ones got there just as they cut him down and he rolled down the hill, his dinner bag still on his back. Some men got a sheep hurdle to put him on, dinner bag and all. His name was J.B. Spencer.

As a child, I remember the village crier calling 'Hay-O, Hay-O' and then telling the news. We used to watch the coach and horses draw up at the George and Dragon, and always went down there to watch the Hunt start, the men in their red coats and the packs of hounds milling around the horses' feet.
I used to attend the sewing classes at The House (West Wycombe Park) run by the then Lady Dashwood. We learned pillow lace, principally.

Mr Coles, Mr Rippington and Mr Spicer used to play the handbells throughout the village at Christmas. Mr Hughes, the milkman, called every morning with his can of milk and measured out what each household wanted. At Christmas he used to give my mother a Christmas stocking full of sugar watches or sugar sausages for us children.

Of course, there were May Revels too.
There was very little traffic in those days. We girls used to string our skipping rope right across the Oxford Road. At the outbreak of the Boer War we marched abreast right into High Wycombe to see the boys off—right down the middle of the Oxford Road. That October day in 1899 was bitter cold.

My Uncle Tom from Turville was a chair bodger and worked mostly in the woods. The only time he went as far as Wycombe, it was foggy and he saw nothing at all.

I remember my Aunt Eliza calling 'Little girl, little girl, I want you. Go fetch me a pint of porter and a pottle of potatoes'. A pottle measure holds about two pounds.

Kate Brookes, Sands

Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes


Description of West Wycombe, Sheahan, 1861; and other notes.

The parish of West Wycombe lies on the western verge of Bucks, adjoining Oxfordshire. Its area is 6,340 acres, of which upwards of 400 acres are woodland. Ratable value, £5,730; population, 2,161 souls. The soil is chiefly chalk. There are 33 miles of high road to be kept in repair by parishioners.

The village, pleasantly situated at the foot of a hill, on the London and Oxford road, 2.5 miles N.W. by W from High Wycombe, consists of one long street running east and west, and presents anair or quietude and neatness. Many of the houses are of ancient date, with the upper overhanging the lower stories. At its eastern is an edifice of remarkably ancient appearance, called "The Loft". It is constructed chiefly of wood and plaster, the upper story overhanging the lower one.

Loxborough House, Chinnor Road, south of Bledlow Ridge. in the parish of Bledlow Ridge, was a hunting lodge built about 1800 for the Dashwoods of West Wycombe.


West Wycombe Parish (Pop. 1,901)

Three Daily Schools, containing 45 males and 17 females, who are instructed at the expense of their parents.

Four Sunday Schools, in one of which are 80 males and 120 females, who attend the Established Church; two others, consisting of 35 males and 55 females, appertain to Wesleyan Methodists; the other, of 10 males and 15 females, to Independent Dissenters. All supported by voluntary contributions.


Additional information