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Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Historical Description

Wycombe (commonly called High or Chipping Wycombe), a municipal borough, a market-town, and a parish in Bucks. The town stands in a valley on the river Wye, from which it derives its name, and on the Wycombe, Aylesbury, and Thame branch of the G.W.R., on which it has a handsome station, 5 miles NE from Marlow, 7 SW from Amersham, 10 N from Maidenhead, and 29 by road and 34 by rail from London. It dates from ancient British times; was reconstructed by the Romans; has yielded many Roman relics; includes at its E end a large Roman station; proves its antiquity also by the existence of an ancient British fort adjacent to the station, and of a fine Roman fort on Castle Hill, adjacent to the church. It belonged to Editha, queen of the Confessor; passed to R. D'Oilly and others, and back to the Crown; went afterwards in portions to the Bassets, the Viponts, the Marshalls, the Bohuns, and others. Bassetsbury Manor was given by Edward IV. to the chapter of Windsor; the other manors belong to Earl Carrington. It was occupied by the Parliamentarians in the Civil Wars of Charles I., and attacked by Prince Rupert. Among its natives are numbered Bishop Basset, who died in 1258, Bishop Alley the Bible translator, O. Butler the author of " Female Monarchy," the theologian R. Taverner, the royalist R. Chalfont, and Lord Mayor Mnnday. The town gives the titles of Baron and Earl to the Marquis of Lansdowne. The borough sent two members to Parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1867, and was then reduced to the right of sending only one, and it was disfranchised by the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885. It had as parliamentary representatives the poet Waller, Sir E. Verney, and the regicide T. Scott. The town was first chartered by Henry III., and is now governed under the Municipal Act by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors, who act as the urban sanitary authority. The borough has a police force and a commission of the peace, the mayor of the preceding year acting as a justice for the borough in conjunction with the mayor for the time being.

The town consists chiefly of one long street, with several minor streets, and a modern addition at the E and W ends. It has a good water supply derived from a deep well sunk into the chalk. The Guildhall, which stands at the junction of High Street and Paul's Row, is a building of stone which was erected in 1757 at the cost of John, third Earl of Shelburne. There are some good portraits in the council chamber. The Shambles in Church Square is an octagonal building erected in 1761. There is a county police station, with rooms for the petty sessions. A free library, with librarian's residence, was founded in 1874 through the munificence of J. O. Griffits, Esq., a native of Wycombe, and there is a literary and scientific institute which has rooms in the Shambles. The chief industry of the town is chair-making, beech wood being employed for ordinary work, and walnut, birch, oak, and cherry for the better kinds. Over 2000 persons are employed in the manufacture, and nearly 1,500,000 chairs are annually made in the town. Imitation antique and artistic furniture is also made, and paper-making is carried on to a considerable extent. The town is the head of a union and county court district, has three banks and a savings bank, a head post office, a weekly market held on Friday, and a fair for pleasure and hiring on the Monday and Tuesday preceding Michaelmas Day. There are three hotels. The town publishes two newspapers. Wycombe Abbey, the seat of Earl Carrington, is a fine mansion of stone in a sort of Late Gothic style, standing in a park of about 200 acres.

The municipal borough is divided into the Central, Eastern, and Western wards, has an area of 687 acres and a population of 13,435. The parish, which includes Loudwater, Hazlemere, part of Flackwell Heath, part of Penn, and part of Handy Cross, has an area of 6395 acres and a population of 16,409. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; net value, £210 in the gift of Earl Carrington. The church of All Saints is the largest in the county, and is a fine ancient building erected on the site of a Norman church in 1273 by the Abbess of Godstow. It was partially rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries, and now consists of chancel with aisles, transepts, nave with aisles, and a western tower 108 feet high. It has a few fine monuments, and some good stained windows. The interior was restored in 1874 under the direction of the late G. E. Street, Esq., R.A., at a cost of about £6000, and the exterior has also been carefully restored since 1887. There are chapels of ease at West End and Wycombe Marsh, a Roman Catholic church, two Baptist and two Congregational chapels, a Friends' meeting-house. Free Methodist, United Free Methodist, three Primitive Methodist, and two Wesleyan chapels, and a Salvation Army Barracks. The charities of the town, which are numerous and valuable, include several almshouse foundations, and are administered under a scheme issued by the Charity Commissioners in 1877. A cottage hospital was established in 1875. The Royal Grammar School was founded in 1552, occupies a fine block of buildings, and has a master's residence and rooms for twenty boarders, and school and class-rooms for about 120 boys. The workhouse at Saunderton is a building of brick, flint, and slate, capable of holding 450 inmates.

Wycombe or Southern Parliamentary Division of Buckinghamshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 66,884. The division includes the following:-Desborough (Second Division, part of)-West Wycombe, Chipping Wycombe, Wooburn; Desborongh (First Division of the Hundred of)-Fawley, Fingest, Hambleden, Hedsor, Ibstone, Marlow (Great), Marlow (Little), Medmenham, Turville; Burnham (Hundred of, Beaconsfield Division) -Amersham, Beaconsfield, Boveney, Bursham, Chalfont (St Giles), Chalfont (St Peter), Coleshill, Dorney, Farnham (Royal), Hedgerley Dean, Hitcham, Penn, Sear Green, Taplow; Stoke (Hundred of)-Datchet, Denham, Eton, Fulmer, Hedgerley, Horton, Iver, Langley Marish, Stoke Pogis, Upton-cum-Chalvey, Wexham, Wyrardisbury; Chipping Wycombe, municipal boroagh.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyBuckinghamshire 
Ecclesiastical parishHigh Wycombe All Saints 
Poor Law unionWycombe 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Wycombe from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Buckinghamshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Wycombe are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Buckinghamshire papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

A full transcript of the Visitation of Buckinghamshire, 1634 is online