Great Missenden


Church: St Peter and St Paul

Hundred: Aylesbury

Poor Law District: Amersham

Size (acres): 5820

Easting & Northing: 489201

Grid Ref SP890010 Click to see map



Names & Places

Great Missenden PARISH St Peter and St Paul
Afflecks NAMES name for Affrick's Farm in 1806
Belynger NAMES name for Ballinger in 1535, 1550
Halligar Wood NAMES name for Halligar Wood
Mantils farm NAMES name for Mantle's Farm in 1703
Maundell NAMES name for Mantle's Farm in 1500
Missedene NAMES name for Missenden in Domesday Book in 1086
Missenden Hyde NAMES name for Hyde in 1550
Ninningwood NAMES name for Ninneywood in 1714
Nynning (wood) NAMES name for Ninneywood in 1540
Petterley NAMES name for Peterley 1559
Petterlow NAMES name for Peterley 1550
Baptist NON-CONFORMIST Hyde Heath. First Mentioned: before 1891
Baptist NON-CONFORMIST High Street. First Mentioned: 1838
Baptist NON-CONFORMIST Holmer Green. First Mentioned: 1831
Methodist NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: 1841. Closed 1937
Primitive Methodist NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: 1830. Closed 1938
Abbey Park PLACE within the parish
Ballinger PLACE within the parish
Ballinger Bottom South PLACE within the parish
Ballinger Common PLACE within the parish
Basseybones (Part) PLACE within the parish
Beamond End PLACE within the parish
Breaches Wood PLACE within the parish
Deep Mill PLACE within the parish
Frith Hill PLACE within the parish
Grange Farm PLACE within the parish
Haleacre Wood PLACE within the parish
Hunts Green (Part) PLACE within the parish
Hyde Heath (Part) PLACE within the parish
Little Kingshill (Part) PLACE within the parish
Little Pednor PLACE within the parish
Maples Green PLACE within the parish
Mobwell PLACE within the parish
Ninneywood (Fm) PLACE within the parish
Peterley PLACE within the parish
Potterrow PLACE within the parish
Prestwood (Part) PLACE within the parish
Wycombe Heath (Part) 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 1411
1811 1576
1821 1735
1831 1827
1841 2225
1851 2097
1861 2250
1871 2278
1881 2170
1891 2385
1901 2166
1911 2555
1921 2882
1931 3289
1941 N/A
1951 4464
1961 5737
1971 8509
1981 10152
1991 9839

There was no census in 1941.



Parish  Church  Register  Start
Great Missenden   St Peter & St Paul   Baptisms   1694   1901   Yes,
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Not available
Great Missenden   St Peter & St Paul   Marriages   1575   1901   Yes,
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Not available
Great Missenden   St Peter & St Paul   Burials   1603   1874   Yes,
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Not available




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

PositionBefore 1700  18th Century  19th Century  Overall Surnames  


'A lot of the cottages in the village were the foster homes for Dr Barnardo's children. Widows were often better off than the wives of the farmworkers because they fostered several children at once and had more housekeeping money.'
'I remember the women sitting in a circle doing their straw plait. The stone floors of the cottage were so cold that a bucket full of hot ashes were passed round under the women's skirts to keep them warm. Once one of the toddlers burned himself badly when he fell on the bucket.'

'Little Billy was a bit simple. It was said his mother gave him an overdose of laudanum when she was doing the straw plait and he slept for two days.'
'For lunch on Saturday we used to have a huge muffin covered with chopped vegetables and tomatoes.'
'Bird pie and rabbit was often eaten for the meat dish. The birds were trapped with a net as they flew from the hedges and from the ivy growing on the houses.'
'When roads need mending, the Overseer of the Parish had to find which farmers owned nearby land with plenty of flints, known as 'Buckinghamshire Diamonds'. In this area of the Chilterns, the Overseers were the Parish Wardens. The farmers were told how many 'yards' of flints were needed and if necessary, they had to employ the labour to pick up the stones to meet demand. It was the Overseer's job to find someone with a horse and cart to collect the piles of stones. It was a fairly amicable 'gentleman's agreement' type of arrangement and a good Overseer spread the load fairly round the local farmers.
'Boys were paid sixpence for picking up a 'yard' of stones, which was measured with a yard-square wooden box without a bottom. When full, the measure was simply picked up, leaving a pile of flints on the field.'
'I can remember the bodgers' tents with the lathe for turning chair legs. My father walked to Hampden to work in the woods.'
'There were brick fields at Sly Corner; clay was dug out of local gardens for bricks.'
'The beginning of May was Wendover Fair. The end of May there was the tea meeting at the Baptist Chapel. Mid July there was the Great Missenden Benefit Club Entertainment and tea; and the Great Missenden Cottagers' and Labourers' Friendly Society. In August there was the School Annual Treat, followed by the Methodist Sunday School Treat. In November there was the Primitive Methodist Sunday School Anniversary.'
Ann N. Marchant, Ballinger

I clearly remember holidays with my family at a small farm in Ballinger during the first decade of the century.
Besides the farm, Mr Bachelor owned a brick kiln and our chief joy was sliding down the shute used for the bricks.
In those days we could safely bowl our hoops along the country lanes, and as a great treat Mr Bachelor would let one or other of us accompany him on his occasional errands in the pony trap to the little towns of Chesham or Tring.
Sanitation was primitive—an outside privy with cut-up newspaper as ammunition hanging on the door. My mother, feeling this was a bit rough on our tender rear ends, enquired of Mr Lewington who owned the village general store if he had a toilet roll. He regretted but politely asked if he could oblige with a newspaper...!
One dull Sunday afternoon, we children were playing a game of Halma in our sitting room, when a sudden commotion in the yard sent us out to see what it was all about. A large sow had got loose. The crisis over, we went back to our game only to find that it had been carefully put away and a Bible placed on top—a gentle rebuke from Mrs Bachelor who was a strict Baptist and obviously didn't hold with our heathen ways!
M. Webber, Little Chalfont


Standing on the hills above Great Missenden are the pleasantly rural villages of Ballinger and South Heath. The small village church of St Marys at Ballinger is very quaint and old and has been carefully looked after through the many years by devoted villagers.

The Ballinger War Memorial Hall gives quite a lot of entertainment, as this is the meeting place of many societies. This hall has given much pleasure to many of us who have lived in the community all our lives. As children we were very lucky as Ballinger Grange was a large Boarding School and the teachers would give up their Saturday afternoons to teach us to dance and take part in plays which were held in the Memorial Hall, as were the most wonderful Christmas parties.

We have had many good craftsmen in the locality. Some of the most fascinating were those that laid hedges and thatched haystacks. Fortunately the craft of hedge-laying seems to be returning, and together with the new wild life conservation these hedges are giving our wild birds more cover.

Ballinger also had a very good blacksmith, and in South Heath we had one of the early lace-makers. This craft again is reviving with various groups locally.
We had wonderful cherry orchards, especially in Ballinger, and the crops were excellent. As children we used to go and get baskets full for preserving and making the famous Black Cherry Pies. These were the boast of the local housewives. Now sadly just a few skeleton trees remain.

A ghostly story of South Heath is told that on a certain night a coach and four horses drives from behind Bury Farm in Potter Row down the driveway across the road and disappears into the mists of the field beyond.

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


Description of Great Missenden from J. J. Sheahan, 1861.

The parish of Great Missenden, which includes part of the liberty of Brand's-fee, and is divided into the Town, Prestwood, and Potter-row, divisions, contains 5,731 acres, and 2,250 inhabitants. Over 3,200 acres of the land is arable, and there are about 860 acres of waste land, lately bought into cultivation. The soil is gravelly clay, intermixed with flints and chalk. The rateable value of the parish is £6,130.

The village is delightfully situated in a valley, lying between two spurs of the Chiltern Hills, on the high road to London, through Uxbridge and Amersham, to Aylesbury. The principle street, formed by that road, is about quarter of a mile in length, runs nearly north and south, and contains several genteel, modern, private, residences and good shops. Another thoroughfare, called Church Street, runs in an easterly direction, on the road to Chesham, and contains some remarkably ancient houses of wood and plaster - the upper floors, which overhang the lower storys, being supported by strong beams of oak. The George and Red Inns are the principle inns. Petty Sessions are held every alternate Monday at the George Inn. In the yard of this "hostel" is an ancient building 26 yards long, the upper story projecting; and the timber used in its construction is of great strength. The original purpose of this building is not known; it is now used as a stable, etc. The hills on the eastern side of the village (part of the Chiltern range) are of great height and slope down with a gentle declivity. They are clothed with luxuriant verdure, and woods of beach, and occasionally dotted with genteel houses.

Great Missenden is distant 5 miles N.W. from Amersham; 4 miles W. from Chesham; 6 miles from Wycombe; and 31 miles from London.

The Vicarage House is a neat residence of white brick, erected in 1857, at a cost of about £1600. It is situated north of the village.

The Baptist Chapel, in the High Street, is a lofty handsome building of flint and brick, with a stuccoed front. In 1766, a Meeting House was erected in Missenden for a few Protestant Dissenters, which is 1806 was considerably enlarged. In 1838, the building being considered unsafe, was pulled down, and the present commodious and substantial on erected at a cost of about £1,200. The present Minister is the Rev. Charles Widlake Skemp.

The National Schools, held in private rooms, are attended by 60 children, of both sexes, and are mainly supported by the Lord of the Manor and Mrs Carrington. It is in contemplation to erect a new School-house.


I went to the village school which consisted of one room for the infants and one room for the older children, one teacher and one headmistress. When the  headmistress was sick (which was often) the infants teacher had to teach in the big room and one of the older girls had to teach the infants. The cane was very widely used and I must say the thought of it kept us in order. We left school at 14, though some of the boys left much earlier to work on the farms.

Sunday was the Sabbath day and was kept as such, with Sunday school mornings and afternoons and an evening service for the adults.

A large boiler hung over the open fire, filled with nets of vegetables and “swimmers" (dumplings in cloths) and always steak and sausage for Sunday breakfast. The drinking water had to be fetched from a communal tap in the village; for everything else water was used from the well in the garden. The closet or WC was at the bottom of the garden, no water toilets in those days. All the villagers kept chickens and many kept a pig in the garden. When it was killed it was hung up in the wood shed with a net curtain round it to keep the flies off, and it was eventually salted down in a barrel; not too much thought was given to hygiene in those days. Butter and milk was lowered in a bucket down into the well to keep it cool.

The ladies of the village met in the hall once a week for sewing parties and gossip and exchanging recipes. This was before the WI and was known as "Mothers Meeting". A travelling concert party visited the village once a year and some of the families in the village boarded them for a small fee.

Each season brought jobs for the children: picking raspberries, blackberries, mushrooms, elderberries for wine and dropped acorns for the pigs and sometimes potato picking for the farmer. Some Saturday mornings were spent grinding swedes for the farmers’ animals.

The winters seemed to be much harder. With no central heating and no gas or electricity (oil lamps and candlesticks), the water by my bed often froze over in the night. The village pond was frozen over for long periods and as children we had great fun; the older boys would tie a rope round their waist and all the smaller children would hang on and be pulled around the ice. Lanterns were hung on poles around the pond.

Our yearly Sunday school outing was a very exciting day. Picnics were packed and we were taken by charabanc to Coombe Hill or Whiteleaf Cross. The school always had an open air concert on May Day on the common, with the “Crowning of the Queen of the May”.

Guy Fawkes Night was celebrated with a huge bonfire. The children worked hard for weeks before collecting anything that would burn and a charabanc brought people from other villages to join the fun with signing and dancing around the fire, while hot soup was provided by the ladies.

Every morning before I went to school my hair was brushed with either paraffin or vinegar to keep the nits away. It was a great disgrace to be given a note from the “Head Nurse” to take home to your parents.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "Buckinghamshire Within Living Memory" (1993) and reproduced here with their permission


There has been a village of Great Missenden since Saxon times. The name is derived from the river Miss or Mease and from the word 'dene' — a narrow wooded valley. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Today the river is known as The Misbourne and whereas it was once an attractive stream rising near the Black
Horse at Mobwell and serving several watermills, it is now almost non-existent and is enclosed in a culvert beneath Buryfields Recreation Ground.

Situated as it is on the main road between Aylesbury and London, Great Missenden was once a popular stopping place for travellers and at one time there were twelve inns along the High Street.

The large number of inns provided a great deal of employment for the villagers, together with blacksmiths, wheelwrights etc. The many farms in the area also provided work and on the outskirts there was at one time a brickworks. The women of the village were involved in straw-plaiting for the hatmakers of Luton and St Albans, lacemaking and in the service of the gentry who occupied the many great country houses in the area.

The one thing which brought the greatest change to life in Great Missenden was the coming of the Metropolitan Railway in 1892. This meant that trade for the inns was drastically reduced, the need for so many horses and horse-drawn vehicles also fell and thus many of the villagers were forced to seek other employment which was not readily available at that time.

Once the journey to London via the train was made easier, several notable people began to look at Great Missenden as a place to live. Many politicians, actors, authors and businessmen needing to be within easy reach of the capital have found the Chiltern Hills surrounding Great Missenden an ideal place to make their homes.

Important buildings include Missenden Abbey, founded in 1133 by William de Missenden who had inherited the land from Walter Giffard, a knight of the Norman conquest.

The Abbey eventually owned much land in the neighbourhood and in 1367 King Henry HI granted a fair to be held on August 14th and 15th — the feast days of the Blessed Virgin to whom the Abbey is dedicated. This fair survived until the middle of the 19th century.

The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul stands on the site of a Saxon church and although the exact age of the church is not known, the first Vicar was appointed in 1199. In the churchyard, the tomb of Thomas Backhouse commemorates a retired sailor who, in 1800 was buried upright under a pyramid-shaped monument on the hillside above Havenfields. Some years later his body was removed to the churchyard.

In today's Great Missenden the High Street is very different.
Gone are the inns, the small grocery shops, the haberdashers and many others to be replaced by numerous antique dealers, estate agents and a supermarket. The old ironmongery business remains together with the bakery and the butchers. Mr Caleb King, who started the ironmongers shop, could make anything in tin-ware starting from scratch. He also had the first motor car in Great Missenden — an Austin Seven — which could be hired to take fares almost anywhere.

At Havenfields there is a violin maker's establishment where highly skilled work is still carried out.

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


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


My grandfather lived at Sedges Farm and my family lived near by. We enjoyed the company of three young cousins. This number was greatly increased during the school holidays when several 'town' cousins came to stay on the farm, and local children joined in too.

Extra men were employed at harvest-time, and work went on for several days. When the threshing machine was working in the rick-yard all the children were armed with sticks, with the intention of slaying the mice as they were disturbed. We were always rewarded with delicious farmhouse cake and lemonade and the harvesters had homemade wine—not old enough to be potent, although there were times at the end of the day when their feet used to 'wander' a little.
Not only did we enjoy glorious long summers in those days but we also had extremely hard winters. One- year we had prolonged snow and frost, and heavy snowdrifts completely covered parts of a nearby lane including the hedges, and a very large carthorse walked from his meadow across the snow into another farmer's meadow.
I suppose Great Missenden has altered least of all the villages in this district. It was not so very many years ago that the local baker baked his bread in an enormous oven heated by solid fuels, and how delicious it was too. It was delivered to customers by pony and trap several times a week. Often at tea-time the muffin-man would call, ringing his bell as he approached the house.
On occasions, I was taken by my grandfather to Missenden Abbey to walk round the beautiful gardens. It has a long and interesting history, as had Sedges Farm where I spent so many happy days during school holidays.
In fact there were rather strange inscriptions on the walls of the three attic rooms in the roof of the farm, believed to be inscribed by monks. Unfortunately the old stairway to the attics has been replaced and some of the wall removed and likewise the attics have been altered and the inscriptions covered or removed by the builders. The farmhouse still stands, commanding a lovely view across the hills, with Great Missenden church nestling in the hillside.
I also remember the many gipsy families who camped in the shelter of the thick high hedges in what is still called Gipsy Lane near the farm. The same families came and went year after year, the men sometimes stone-picking in the fields before the ploughing and sowing.

Ivy Smith, Great Kingshill

Before the coming of the railway in 1892, Great Missenden was quite a small rural community and the centre of a considerable agricultural district. Nevertheless, it boasted no less than twelve public houses in its one main street. This sometimes led to quite riotous behaviour round the village green in Church Street, on Saturdays and holidays. A travelling fair often occupied the green also, to add to the excitement.
The old High Street was cobbled and used by a considerable amount of horse traffic. This caused it to be encrusted by a deep layer of manure. In dry weather the shop windows had to be barricaded against the flying filth. The Oxford to London coach came through the village daily, with its four horses and a postillion blowing his horn.
The fire engine was kept behind one of the inns and was drawn by horses lent by the riding stables.
There was a Town Crier, called Tomlin, with his handbell who called the local news and dates of auctions, agricultural shows and the time and the weather.
A lamplighter went through the village each evening lighting the lamps for a few hours of darkness.
A muffin-man walked from Chesham with a tray of muffins, covered with a white cloth, balanced on his head.
A horse-brake used to meet the London train on Sundays and take passengers on a circular drive in the country, passing Chequers and on to Wendover where tea was provided at the Shoulder of Mutton, then back to Great Missenden and the train for an inclusive fare of half-a-crown.
The butcher, who was also the slaughterer, made large quantities of lard and dripping and customers brought their own bowls to be filled. The great treat on Wednesdays used to be hot dripping toast.
A well-known figure of those times was a drover called Jesse, who drove cattle from the market at Aylesbury to the slaughter-house. Jesse sustained himself by calling at the various hostelries on his route. When he arrived at the Black Horse on the outskirts of the village, he would leave the cattle outside while he enjoyed his final drink. It was a favourite trick of a number of children living nearby, chase the cattle into the handy village pond and watch with delight a somewhat bemused Jesse look-for his herd.
The bakery, recently closed, belonged to the Clark family for over two hundred years. They also owned mill, which was known as Deep Mill, and ground wheat for the flour. Housewives used to bring in Christmas turkeys and cakes, and large joints and pies to the bakehouse to be cooked in the bread oven.
The Squire's four sisters, the Misses Carrington, lived at Missenden Abbey, were very kind but autocratic ladies. When they visited in the village, the women were expected to appear at their doors in their aprons, and curtsey. On one occasion when two women in the street failed to do this they were asked ‘whether their knees were stiff’. Children were invited each spring to a Snowdrop Tea at the Squire's mansion, now a College of Adult Education. They were allowed to pick as many snowdrops as they liked in the Park and were then entertained to tea in house.
Lacemakers sat three or four together in the bay windows of houses in Church Street. They used ‘chaddy pots', similar to a warming pan, filled with coals and tucked under their skirts for warmth, when it was dark the group sat round one candle which had a special glass reflector. A salesman collected the completed lace periodically for very small sums.
Straw plaiting was also done by the cottagers at home, for the Luton hat trade. They used to sit in their doorways plaiting the wet straw, which resulted very sore hands.
The Buckingham Arms (now the National Westminster Bank) had some very interesting people always staying there. There is in existence still a visitors' book dating back to the early 1900's which is filled with comment and drawings and some poems. One party of people who stayed there regularly were some strolling players who performed plays and melodramas in an old building in the yard behind the Red Lion. One villager worked after school hours at this hotel as 'Boots' and stable boy from the age of eight.
The village school headmaster of those days insisted that as the district was an agricultural one all boys must be taught to cultivate a pole of land. They were allowed to sell their produce, which sometimes came to as much as 12s 6d which they collected at Christmas.

Members of Great Missenden

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


Great Missenden Parish (Pop. 1,827)

One Infant School (commenced 1830), supported by subscription, containing from 70 to 80 children of both sexes.

Six Daily Schools, one a Lancasterian School, containing about 45 males, each of whom pays twopence per week, otherwise supported by subscription; two others contain 40 males, the other three 33 females, these are instructed at the expense of their parents.

Four Sunday Schools, supported by voluntary contributions, in two of which are 75 males and 200 females; these attend the Established Church; the others appertain to Baptists, and consist of 64 males and 65 females.

A lending Library is attached to the Lancasterian School.