Hun­dreds of changes through the years

From an­cient stew­ard­ships and mar­ket days to the com­ing of the rail­ways. Don­ald Stan­ley ex­plores the di­verse his­tory of Bea­cons­field

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -

BEA­CONS­FIELD is part of the Hun­dred of Burn­ham, one of three com­pris­ing the Chiltern Hun­dreds the Stew­ard­ship of which, be­ing an of­fice of profit un­der the Crown, may be sought by a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment wish­ing to re­sign his seat.

For tax pur­poses in Saxon times, a hun­dred ‘hides’ were con­sid­ered to be able to sup­port a fam­ily. Bea­cons­field be­came di­vided one part, the Hall Barn es­tate, be­ing ac­quired by the Abbess of Burn­ham who held it un­til the Dis­so­lu­tion of the Monas­ter­ies (1536-1541). The other, Wil­ton Park, was ac­quired for a time by Mis­senden Abbey.

The in­tro­duc­tion in the 1700s of prop­erly main­tained ‘turn­pike’ roads made pos­si­ble regular coach and goods wagon ser­vices and Bea­cons­field be­came a stag­ing post which brought busi­ness for its inns, black­smiths and wheel­wrights.

Lo­cal de­posits made pos­si­ble the man­u­fac­ture of tiles and, when brick re­placed wat­tle and daub, brick mak­ing as in Pot Kiln Lane. In com­mon with other Buck­ing­hamshire towns, lace was pro­duced by women in their homes and the work­house.

The com­ing of the rail­way in 1906 made it pos­si­ble to work in Lon­don and live in the Chilterns. This led to the build­ing of the New Town on which lo­cal life be­came cen­tred leav­ing the orig­i­nal town rel­a­tively undis­turbed.

As late as 1969, Kath­leen Day wrote that the build­ings in Bea­cons­field Old Town had changed lit­tle in the pre­vi­ous half cen­tury apart from the ab­sence of her fam­ily’s busi­ness, Day’s Stores, at the rear of which had been the Mar­ket Hall.

Be­tween them and the old lock-up, now an es­tate agency, is the grassed over part of Ayles­bury End fac­ing The White Hart. This had been the Mar­ket Place and site of the fair which the Abbess of Burn­ham had ac­quired the right to hold each year on May 10.

The Tues­day mar­ket dates from a Royal Grant in 1255. A Can­dle­mas Cat­tle Fair was held each Fe­bru­ary on the green out­side the Parish Church on the other side of Wy­combe End un­til the time of the First World War.

When the Na­tional Schools in the build­ing that is now the Bea­cons­field Ma­sonic Cen­tre the green was used as a play area be­tween lessons, for phys­i­cal ex­er­cises, singing games, and as a drill ground for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and where the May­pole was erected on May Day.

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Bea­cons­field Vil­lage Green – from a 19th cen­tury print

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