Hyde Heath 1987            

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Hyde Heath 1987 - Enid Picton

 

This article is thought to have been written by Enid Picton of the WI as the Hyde Heath contribution to the BFWI publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987)

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 nineteenth 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 miles NW of the present village.    Presumably 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 spirit of the community finds expression in the Village Hall.   The provision of which in the 1920*s, primarily funded by the Women's Institute and dedicated to the fallen of the Great War, has done much for the village.    A bequest in the 1960's allowed for its extension and refurbishment.    In the Hall a wide variety of functions take place from wedding receptions to discos.    It is the regular meeting place for two W.I. Groups, Beaver, Cub and Scout Groups, Girl Guides, Junior, Intermediate and Senior Drama Groups and the Playgroup.

The Plough is the sole public house in the Village, a remnant of the five existing in the early years of this century.   It has a good position on the Common and provides good food as well as a welcoming atmosphere.

The enlarged population has allowed the village school to reach its centenary. Hyde Heath First School caters for 5-8 year olds and the Victorian building still remains, with the reception class held in it - under a very different regime.   Careful extension has provided further classrooms without detracting from the Victorian frontage. At present there are 45 pupils, one part-time and two full-time teachers.   The school is truly in the twentieth century with TV and video recorder and computer sessions for the children.   Links with the past are still maintained with the May Queen ceremony which is still held every year and in the main differs very little from the celebrations held when the school was first started.

There are three shops in the village, the most important undoubtedly being the Post Office.   This was built in 1910 and has functioned ever since, changing to keep up with the times.    It could now be called a mini-supermarket but nevertheless retains its village atmosphere;   here the gossip is heard, exchanged and passed on as villagers of every age meet over the stamps and sundries.    An off-licence and a garden shop complete the trio.

The village has two centres of worship.   The Chapel, once on the opposite side of the Common, is now by the Village Hall.    It has a thriving Sunday School and holds a number of services and meetings throughout the week.   The Church of England has had an interesting history.   Early in the 1900*s a small building was provided by Mrs. Hampton and used both as a Meeting Room and for a Sunday School,   The building was later dedicated and regular services have been held ever since.   Behind the altar there is a Nativity Mural depicting local scenes and surrounded by a carved oak reredos, both are the work of local sisters, the Trotmans from Coleshill.   Little Missenden Parish Boundary was re-drawn in the 1950's to include the church, the changes having to be specifically approved by the Queen in 1956.    In 1986, the Archdeacon of Buckingham re-dedicated the church for the worship of God and gave it the name of St. Andrews.

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.

 

Enid Picton

1987

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