1000 Years of History
West Wycombe village dates back at least 1000 years. As the village buildings date mostly from the 16th to 18th centuries, they provide an interesting walk-about. The buildings survived almost intact because they was part of the West Wycombe estate until 1929. At that time the Royal Society of Arts took on the care of much of the village, later passing it to the National Trust to oversee.
Go Back: [Top of Page] [Articles
It was in the late 16th century that timber-framed houses were built in the village. Much wood came from the nearby Chiltern woods. Brick was made in local kilns taking advantage of local clay on the chalk hills. In the 18th century there was some remodeling done and new buildings appeared using Queen Anne and Georgian architecture.
The earliest surviving building, the church loft, dates from the 15th century. It was a rest house for pilgrims. When first built it had four rooms below with a wagon way at each end and an accommodation hall above the rooms. The building has been altered over the ensuing centuries.
A walk around the village highlights the places to stop and enjoy the architecture. Pick up a leaflet at one of the local stores. West Wycombe Park’s entrance is a good place to start. A brick and flint wall, part of an 18th century malt house, is located here. On the High street, buildings numbered 2, 3, 4, and 5 are timber-framed dating from late 17th or early 18th century. Panels of brick between the timber replaced wattle and daub used earlier.
Aston house has modern door and window frames, but its lintels are 18th century. The Swan Inn has 18th century brick fronts, although its extension only dates from 1932. Across from Aston house is a former Methodist chapel, dating from 1894. Check out the nine inscribed foundation stones. Next door No. 59 is of flint construction, laid in random patterns. Next along the street is Apple Orchard, a 16th century half-timbered house with a 19th century shop front. Don’t miss the chimney and overhanging storey.
Continue to the entrance of the Black Boy yard where there is a half hatch door at No. 11. The yard belonged to a coaching inn in the 18th century. Cobbles and setts were used in the archway and yard. Looking through the arch brings into view a weather-boarded building, part of the original coach house.
On the High street nos. 57 and 58 were once the village poor house. The George and Dragon pub was another village pub, dating from 1720. Beyond the pub, in the 18th century, were three wheelwrights’ yards. Steps House, across the street, reflects Queen Anne or early Georgian style popular at the beginning of the 18th century. The village hall, built in 1960, occupies the site of a chair-making factory and before that, a malt house.
Crown Court at the eastern end of West Wycombe had 11 cottages in 1767. Much of the original brick and flint construction can be seen. On Church Lane was a furniture factory with workshops on the second floor. Look for dates on the buildings in this lane. No. 43 was built for a craftsman or possibly a tradesman or professional. On the lane are an old pump, interesting doors and windows, canopies, and brickwork. Further along, on Church Hill, the West Wycombe cave entrance is visible. The 19th century village school is found on the way down the hill back to the west end of the village.
West Wycombe is a fascinating village not to be missed by anyone interested in architecture and how the history of a place is reflected in its buildings.
West Wycombe village is located in Buckinghamshire on the A40, just north-west of High Wycombe