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
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
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
The spirit of the community finds expression in the Village Hall. The
provision of which in the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
to include the church, the changes having to be specifically approved by
the Queen in
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
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
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.