Wycombe on the day of the new King

Mayor and Beadle of High Wycombe, September 2022

Somehow it was so apt to be in Wycombe on the day the new King was proclaimed at the Town Hall two weeks ago. I wondered whether the ghost of Dr Martin Lluelyn popped along. He’d been physician to both Charles I and Charles II, attending to Charles I on the scaffold before his execution and then served as Mayor of High Wycombe in 1671 when residing in Crendon Street. Charles III is bound to Wycombe through this historical thread whether he likes it or not.

As a town it does ceremonial occasions so well with its ancient tradition of the weighing-in of the Mayor and previous heritage of building giant chair arches. I’d expected a sleepy Sunday stroll in the territory of my birth but found the crowds streaming along Queen Victoria Road.

Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe, 11th September 2022 proclamation of King Charles III
Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe, 11th September 2022
High Street, High Wycombe September 11th 2022
High Street, High Wycombe
Cafe on High Wycombe High Street
High Street, High Wycombe

There was life in the High Street too, a plush new cafe had opened up next to a restored building that had recently discovered to be the oldest in the town apart from the Norman church. The Octagon Centre was bereft, haunted by the ghost of its fountain where now there’s only a bare sunlit space.

Octagon Centre High Wycombe
Octagon Centre High Wycombe
River Wye High Wycombe
River Wye
Deangarden Wood High Wycombe
Deangarden Wood
Tunnel under M40 High Wycombe
Fennell’s Wood

I followed the River Wye out of the town across the Rye and then along the bottom of Deangarden Wood. Another footpath took me up the steep valley side and through a long tunnel beneath the M40 into Fennell’s Wood. It’s these beech woods hugging the Chiltern Hills, that not only gave the town and its satellite villages their identity and culture but also their industry. Bodgers turned chair legs and piled them high in their woodland camps. In the brick and flint cottages, chair caners wove the seats. On the valley floor, factories assembled the chairs that gave Wycombe the moniker of Chairopolis. This is where your Windsor chairs actually come from. Wycombe Wanderers still go by the nickname of the Chairboys, and my grandfather used to walk through these woods on the way to watch the Wanderers at their old ground of Loakes Park.

Juniper Hill Water Tower, Flackwell Heath
Juniper Hill Tower

My walk was part nostalgia trip and part recce for a piece of writing I started during one of the lockdowns and had reached a dead end. Following the narrative thread from my Mum’s burial in Wooburn cemetery had somehow led me to the location of a water tower in Flackwell Heath on the opposite side of the valley. It occurred to me that I’d never noticed this great looming structure before – even in the years when I drank and worked in the Green Dragon pub nearby and walked down Juniper Lane almost daily. The tower had grown and grown within the shell of what could become a book until it formed a significant block on my progress. I needed to actually visit the site. And here it was – a beautiful brutalist hulk hidden in a nest of residential streets. It deserves a chunk of my book (if I can ever finish it).

Ronald Wood, Flackwell Heath
Ronald Wood
View of Wooburn Green, Bucks
the view over Wooburn Green

I cut down the side of a wood that also features in the book (although I’m nervous to call it that when it currently only stands at six thousand words) and drop across the fields to Wooburn Green. After a quick visit to my mother’s grave I watch a few overs of Wooburn Narkovians at the Park remembering all those happy childhood summers spent scampering around this pitch as my Dad bowled leggies from Church end and smoked Embassy cigarettes while waiting to go out to bat.

Wooburn Town
Wooburn Town
Wooburn Narkovians Cricket Club at  Wooburn Park 11th September 2022
Wooburn Park


  1. Graham Larkbey   •  

    Unfortunately, a town particularly badly trashed by so-called town planners, leaving it with few redeeming features. Even the remaining pubs aren’t much cop.

  2. Christine Slike   •  

    Beautiful pictures! Can’t wait to watch the video 👍👍Your book will get written!

  3. Bruce Bennett   •  

    Really enjoyed this report. Coming from Wycombe, but having left a long time ago and been back only occasionally, this was like revisiting the place.

  4. Jennifer Levine   •  

    Lovely – it’s such a picturesque area.

  5. Graham Larkbey   •  

    Maybe I’ve been misjudging the town all these years – the middle of it is horrible, apart from the handful of decent old buildings which have survived the town planners’ wrecking ball and concrete mixers. Clearly I must explore it a bit more widely! (Recommendations for good pubs also welcome).

  6. Matt W   •  

    Live 3 doors from the brutalist hulk, which in fact attracted me to this very house. It’s currently being cleaned or painted. Not quite sure! Great to read about my large neighbour here 👍🏼

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.