Great Missenden in old picture postcards

Great Missenden in old picture postcards

:   Valerie Eaton Griffith / The Friends of Great Missenden Parish Church
:   Buckinghamshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3543-6
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Great Missenden in old picture postcards'

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Great Missenden was settled and developed because of its geographical position. The River Misbourne runs through, or nowadays under, the village, the soil is sufficiently fertile, the Chiltern Hills weIl wooded, London is thirty miles away and Oxford half that distance. Aylesbury is even nearer and the Wendover Gap through the hills is on a direct north-west line between London, Great Missenden and Aylesbury.

Originally the inhabitants would have lived by means of farming and to a lesser degree by the skills of all sorts of woodsmen and carpenters, by local crafts, pubs, breweries and general trade. As the years rolled by and roads improved, the village's position was used to the full and coaching inns became big business. Local crafts turned into cottage industries, amongst them Buckinghamshire lace.

Several things have had an enormous influence on the life, function and character of the village. The first of these is Missenden Abbey. In the twelfth century Great Missenden, like many other English villages, was inwardlooking. This was more or less inevitable as communication with people even five miles away was intermittent. This isolation bred self-reliance but it also bred insularity. What the poorly educated villagers thought of the canons

has not been handed down to us, but the impact must have been considerable. However, the cultural shock was survived and the locals continued to live lives that did not change a great deal for centuries; that is until1892, when the railway came.

The railway brought not canons this time but fairly wealthy business people like the Libertv's of London. They bought land in and around the village, built big houses with even bigger gardens, and the simple hardworking villagers came into contact with moneyed and educated people.

The last great change came in 1959-1960 when the bypass was built. The few aerial photographs that are shown in the following pages tell of the destruction and rebuilding that this caused: age-old houses were pulled down, new purpose-built ones erected, the River Misbourne, the reason why people first carne to live here, suffered the indignity of being culverted through the heart of the village, and old roads were made into culde-sacs. Transport, roads and mobility became the gods and a new isolation was caused. Lack of communication that had been responsible for the original isolation of the mind now begun to return full circle and caused a growing isolation of trade. Shopping in the High Street was

severely reduced as large supermarkets flourished. It is a curious world.

By the time of the millennium paid work in and around the village had become limited, farms had machines rather than a work-force and London beckoned. These facts still hold good. Great Missenden is nearly but not quite a commuting village. On the other hand many people still come to make their homes in such a lovely and convenient place. Beauty is one of the great assets. The Chiltern Hills overlook the gentle valleys, the air is clean, birds sing and the contrast to London is great. There are other assets too. It is a caring place. All Christian denominations have formed Churches- Together and they and many other societies such as the Red Cross, Age Concern, the Women's Institute and the Great Missenden Society help ensure the village remains a good place to live in glorious countryside.

Thanks are due to Mr. S.H. Freese, who took some of the photographs, and to the many others whose names are unknown. Thanks are also due to Major Mike Davis and to all those who so generously have allowed their treasured photographs and postcards to be included.

These pictures, taken more or less between 1920 and 1960, will unfold the story ofthe village and perhaps

give a little of its timeless flavour. This is Prime Minister country with Chequers nearby, Iohn Hampden country, walking country and the home of families who have lived here for centuries.

1 This aerial view of Great Missenden was taken in 1931. The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is in the foreground, Missenden Abbey to the left and almast above the abbey is a puff of smoke from the steam engines that were pulling the trains at this time. More or less in the centre is a field with the River Misbourne running through it. In the lower middle stretching away from the viewer is Church Street and across

it is the High Street.

These two roads constitute the working heart of the village. High up in the photograph can be seen the houses in big gardens

that were built in the years following the advent of the railway.

2 Great Missenden nestles between two of the rolling Chiltern Hills, In this picture taken after the Second World War Angling Springs Wood can be seen on the

horizon. Clement Atlee, Labour Prime Minister between 1945 and 1951, had a house here and his garden ran down to these woods. Occasionally at

weekends he would visit the tennis club to playa game, have tea and help with the washing-up. Barold Wilson, Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s,

also lived nearby Farming still enriches the countryside and is largely responsible for its beauty It is a rural, peaceful place as it has always been.



3 This is the Nag's Head Inn taken around 192 0 before the stable block to the right was demolished and the space that was left turned into a car park. Ori-

ginally it was a coaching inn and it must have done good business because the raad to Great Missenden and Aylesbury lies ahead and around the corner to

the left is the old main road to High Wycombe and Windsor. Nowadays Virginia Creeper covers the inn and gives it its characteristic appearance. When

Edward Heath was Prime Minister between 1970 and 1974 he used to caU in here for a quick drink on his way to Chequers.


t156f J. H. Sl'ittl ?? ' Series, GI. )(iu.nd~ .;. .,;

4 No one seems to know why this building was ealled Little Missenden Abbey. Maybe there was onee a building on this site that was used by the abbey,

eertainly there was an abbey watermill not toa far away. Locals are want to tell of nuns onee living here and of an underground passage through

to the canons used for clandestine meetings, but this is just a story maybe eaused by some eanonly frolies in the village. This picture is of the back of

the building in the 1 92 Os when it was a private house owned by people ealled Johnstone. The lake in the foreground is fed by the River Misbourne.

5 Here is Little Missenden Abbey in 1959 showing the newly-built by-pass with the old road to Great Missenden passing by the building. In the war the

house was a girls' school and Michael Tippett taught here. Later it was turned into a hotel, where local functions and wedding receptions were held. The

hotel eventually closed and the building lay empty for a considerable while. In 1982 a large private hospital, The Chiltern, was built in and around the elegant

old house. The foreground in this picture is now a car park, operating theatres and all the panoply of a modern hospital.

6 This is the Great Missenden Lawn Tennis Club between the wars. It was opened with two grass courts in 1904 on land rented from the owner of the Nag's Head. Arthur Lazenby Liberty was the first Chairman .The subscription was 1 0 /6d. Two years later a third court was laid at a cast not to exceed 5 guineas. In [une 1909 a committee was called to meet on the courts but only Mr. j.B, Cook turned up. He waited fifteen minutes for other people to arrive, voted himself in the chair and then adjourned to the Nag's Head to drown his sorrows. But despite this small incident

the club was successful. In 1913 thirteen of the fortythree members were on war service. In theSecond WarldWar, with the club greatly expanded, alocal farmer Douglas Kyle kept

the grass cut to ensure the courts would be in good condition when the war ended. In 1985 the club bought the land, five acres in all, for ;(,16,250 and more land was bought in

1995. Today there are floodlights and the club f1ourishes.

7 This is a photograph of the Great Missenden cricket team in Iuly 1936. In those days there was an old pavilion made of corrugated iron, but in 1 938 Wrights the builders constructed a wooden one for the princely sum of f,3 8. Yet another pavilion, the one that is there today, was built in 1974. The club does not play League cricket, but has weekend games against local clubs and plays against such unusual teams as the BBC Bushman and the Honorary Artillery Company. The ground is handily placed at the back of the Nag's Head Inn and many old cricket memento es hang on the

walls by the bar. Curiously up until about 1960 the ground was shared with the football club. It is difficult to believe it did the precious grass any good!

8 Here is the Great Missenden football team of

1 93 1. The photograph was taken on the old recreation ground by the side of what is now the Link Raad. The Captain in the centre with his hand on the ball is Albert Tomlin. The Tomlins are one of the really old Great Missenden families like the Laceys, the Weedons and many more. Same of these families have lived here for hundreds of years. Many are inter-related and demonstrate the isolation of the village in earlier times. Ioseph Tomlin was town cri er. He posted Royal and Government

proclamations: 'Oyez, Oyez. Hear this ... "The bell he rung is still in possession of the family. But usually the Tomlins were and are craftsmen, carpenters, electricians or plumbers.

When Wrights the builders came to Great Missenden in the 1890s many of the Tornlin family went to work for them and the conneetion existed for nearly 100 years. The fami-

ly still serve the village and Barry Tomlin has his own plumbing business today.

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