Buckinghamshire is divided into four areas: in the south is Chiltern and south Bucks; in the west is the Wycombe area; in the center of the county is the Aylesbury vale, while in the north Milton Keynes is the dominant force.
Southern Buckinghamshire plays host to the Chiltern hills, much of which is an AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty). Countryside walks include sections of the popular Ridgeway path. There are scenic villages to visit, especially along the Thames river.
In the Chilterns is John Milton's 16th century cottage, where he wrote Paradise Lost. The cottage holds exhibits on his work and times. Poetry lovers will want to visit Stoke Poges, home of the churchyard in Thomas Gray's 'Elegy written in a country churchyard'. At the Chiltern Open Air museum, are a number of historic buildings that range from a Victorian Toll House, to an iron age house, to a historic farm.
Or choose a garden to visit. Langley is a historic parkland of 130 acres where herds of deer once roamed. In the parkland are rhododendron and azalea filled temple gardens, a pond, and a walled arboretum. Two other parks, Black and Denham have abundant trails that include part of the South Bucks long distance way.
The town of Amersham is in this part of the county. Amersham's high street (the old part of the town) is a mixture of half-timbered and Georgian buildings. The site itself dates from Saxon times and was visited by the Danes and Queen Elizabeth I. The Griffin hotel (now a restaurant) and the Crown hotel were once staging posts. Also on view are 17th century workhouses, a 1683 market hall, Drake’s Almshouses dated 1657, 17th century Chimney cottage, an old corn mill and brewery, St Mary's church and much more. Pick up a town trail leaflet at the tourist office to discover these buildings and their history.
One and a half miles north of High Wycombe, is a 17th century house, Hughenden Manor, once the home of prime minister Benjamin Disraeli from 1848 to 1881. Furniture, books and pictures that belonged to him are on the premises. A village green and historic church are on view. Walks in the surrounding hills, woods, and farmlands are a favourite pastime.
West Wycombe Park, a mid 18th century rococo landscape garden, was created by Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Dilettanti Society and the Hellfire Club (located in the Hellfire Caves) to compliment the theatrical and Italianate home it surrounds. The house façades are formed as classical temples, and in the interior are pictures, furniture, and sculpture dating from the times. The caves were excavated in the 1750s from an old quarry by Dashwood to provide work for unemployed farm workers. The mile long route through the caves is fitted out with commentary, sound effects and costumed statues. They even have an underground café.
West Wycombe, a Chilterns hillside village, is home to several hundreds of years worth of buildings. Of note are those from the 16th to 18th centuries. An iron age hill-fort is on view with a church standing in the middle. In the town museum is a children's discovery centre, exhibits, and videos. A changing exhibition space and program give more information on local and Marlow village history and art. Of special note is the furniture section dedicated to the historic Windsor chairs and other furniture that was made from Chiltern hills beechwood. The grounds include picnic spaces.
Marlow, an attractive town on the Thames river, had a market as long ago as the Saxon period. The town became fashionable during Georgian times, and some buildings from that time still remain in the high street. Check out the 14th century parsonage on St Peter street and the 18th century Marlow Place opposite as well as the 16th century inn. The church of All Saints with its 170-foot high spire is Victorian. The Thames river path passes through the town and provides scenic waterside walks.
The Aylesbury vale section of the county is named after Buckinghamshire's leading town, Aylesbury. The town has a conservation area of Georgian buildings around St Mary's church. In the same area in a 15th century building is the Buckinghamshire county museum and art galley that includes a Roald Dahl children's gallery. The mid 15th century King's Head Hotel played host to Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou while on their honeymoon--check out the stained glass in the front window. Henry VIII also found his way here while courting Anne Boleyn.
Buckingham, in this area, is notable for its 15th century chantry chapel (National Trust). It is located near St Peter and St Paul church (1781)--check out the 1471 Bible in the church. Another historic building in Buckingham is the 1750s town hall. The museum in the gaol built about the same time details the history of the town.
Claydon house displays 18th century rococo and chinoiserie decoration. There is a Chinese room and a staircase done in parquetry. The house was lived in by the Verney family for over 380 years and visited regularly by Florence Nightingale, a relative.
Waddeson Manor is worth a day, and it will take that long to tour the house and take in the collections, enjoy the Victorian gardens and grounds, the shop, and the great food in the restaurant. The house was built for the immensely wealth baron Ferdinand de Rothschild for the purpose of entertainment and displaying his art collection. Constructed from 1874-1889, it was built in the style of a 16th century French chateau.
In the home is an amazing collection of French 18th century decorative arts, furniture, Savonnerie carpets, and Sèvres porcelain. Portraits by Gainsborough and Reynolds and works by Dutch and Flemish Masters of the 17th century hang on the walls. The gardens are famous for their seasonal displays, trees, and shrubs. The Rococo-style aviary houses exotic birds.
Ascott House was transformed in 1876 by the de Rothschild family from a half-timbered Jacobean farmhouse to a more elegant and larger home. Inside is a collection of paintings, Oriental porcelain, and English and French furniture. Gardens are a mix of formal and natural and contain specimen trees and shrubs, a herbaceous walk, lily pond, Dutch garden, and a topiary sundial.
Stowe Landscape Garden is more than just a garden. The Georgian landscape was designed for the views of valleys, lakes, rivers, and more than 30 temples and monuments. There are walks throughout the extensive landscape. The house in the same grounds is a school, so not open to the public.
Train lovers will want to visit the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, a working steam museum 6 miles north-west of Aylesbury. The Centre has a collection of 30 steam and diesel locomotives, and vintage carriages and wagons, all displayed in the sidings and sheds surrounding the Victorian country station of Quainton Road. Of particular note is a dining car from the Royal Train of 1901.
Outdoor enthusiasts can experience nature at the Snakemoor nature reserve, at Wendover woods, and at Stockgrove country park's 80 acres of ancient coppice woodland, heath remnants, coniferous plantations, grassland, and Georgian parkland and watch migrating birds on the lake.
2 miles south-west of Leighton Buzzard
Tel. 0 1296 688 242
Web: Ascott Estate
Bekonscot Model Village and Railway
Warwick Rd, Beaconsfield, off the M40/M25
Tel. 0 1494 672 919
Web: Bekonscot Model Village and Railway
Bletchley Park Museum
Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK3 6EB
Tel. 0 1908 640 404
Web: Bletchley Park Museum
Buckingham Chantry Chapel
Market Hill, Buckingham
Tel. 0 1494 528 051
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Quainton Road Station
Quainton, Nr. Aylesbury
Tel. 0 1296 655 450
Web: Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Chenies Manor House and Gardens
North of A404 between Amersham and Rickmansworth
Tel. 0 1494 762 888
Web: Chenies Manor House and Gardens
Chiltern Open Air Museum
Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St. Giles
Tel. 0 1494 871 117
Web: Chiltern Open Air Museum
Tel. 0 1296 730 349
Taplow, Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire
Tel. 0 1494 755 562
Cowper and Newton Museum
Orchard Side, Market Place, Olney, on the A509
Tel. 0 1234 711 516
Web: Cowper’s House, Museum and Gardens
Hell Fire Caves
Tel. 0 1494 533 739
Web: Hell Fire Caves
Bradenham, High Wycombe
Tel. 0 1494 755 573
For photos and more information see our article Hughenden Manor
John Milton's Cottage
Chalfont St. Giles
Tel. 0 1494 872 313
Web: Milton's Cottage
King's Head Historic Coaching Inn
King’s Head Passage
The Market Square, Aylesbury
Tel. 0 1296 381 501
Opposite Black Park off the A412 Slough-Uxbridge road
Tel: 0 1753 511 060
Roald Dahl Children's Gallery
Church Street, Aylesbury
Tel. 0 1296 331 441
Stowe House, Buckingham MK18 5EH
Tel. 0 1280 818166 (24-hour information line)
Tel. 0 1280 818229 (office hours)
Web: Stowe House
Stowe Landscape Gardens
3 miles north-west of Buckingham via Stowe Avenue
Tel. 0 1280 822 850 for gardens; 0 1280 818 166 for house (school)
Tel. 0 1296 653 203
For photos and more information see our article Waddeson Manor and Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild of Waddesdon Manor
Web: Waddesdon Manor
West Wycombe Park
Tel. 0 1494 513 569
Priory Ave, High Wycombe
Tel. 0 1494 421 895
Buckinghamshire Tourist Information Centres
8 Bourbon Street, Aylesbury
Tel. 0 1296 330 559
Old Gaol Museum
Market Hill, Buckingham
Tel. 0 1280 823 020
Chiltern District Council
King George V Road
Tel. 0 1494 729 000; Fax. 0 1494 586 506
Web: Chiltern District Council
Pauls Row, High Wycombe
Tel. 0 1494 421 892
31 High Street, Marlow
Tel. 0 1628 483 597
Margaret Powell Square
890 Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes
Tel. 0 1908 558 300
The Clock Tower, High Street
Tel. 0 1296 696 759
Amersham Market Square Old Grammar School courtesy Matthew Jones at Amersham
John Milton Cottage courtesy Milton's Cottage Trust Milton's Cottage
Marlow Bridge courtesy Lyndon Yorke Photo Buckingham Rail station courtesy Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
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Some of our Buckinghamshire Articles
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild
West Wycombe Village
Stowe Landscape Gardens
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The Rolling Acres
A great place to stay for visiting Stowe Gardens