Stage 6 - Old Amersham
Start: Grid Reference SU 95821
97316 Post Code HP7 0DF
If you just want to print out the "Route" instructions of stage 6 of this walk,
without all the blurb on the website, you can download this as a
Word Docx by clicking on the link.
If you just want to print out the "Route" instructions of stage 6 of this walk, without all the blurb on the website, you can download this as a Word Docx by clicking on the link.
A tough walk through the rolling Chiltern Hills Starts in Old Amersham, near St Mary's Church. Big climb, near start, up past Martyr's Memorial. Passes through Chiltern Forest, Latimer, Flaunden and Chipperfield Green to finish just north of Chipperfield War Memorial. There are a few steep climbs and descents. Can be muddy in places.
Start in Old Amersham, just north of roundabout at junction of Market Square and Broadway.
Go north through a wide opening / seating area and straight on along a footpath through churchyard, soon past St Mary's Church to your LHS.
After 100 yards, at a T-junction, with a wall in front and the river just over the wall, turn right and follow the lane, soon over a brick bridge.
The River Misbourne at this point is walled, looks neat and is very narrow. The building on the opposite side is Badminton Court, once property of the Weller Brewery and now offices. Look back along the river and you can see it actually flows under the building.
Immediately over bridge turn right, signed "Chiltern Heritage Trail". The river is now on the right and the wall of the cemetery is to the left. Follow the path to the end of the wall, where it starts to climb and comes out into a field. Turn left along a path, signed Martyrís Memorial, climbing steeply upwards and part diagonally right across the field.
The Chiltern Heritage Trail is a 52 mile circular walk through the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire. It was created by Chiltern District Council in 2000 as part of their Millennium celebrations. It passes through all 14 parishes in the District. The trail was taken over by the Chiltern Society who made a few changes and published a new guidebook in 2016. We only follow it for about 180 yards, but briefly rejoin it at Latimer. You can read more about this trail at Pete's Walks.
The Parish Church of St Mary dates from around 1140, but it has expanded and changed much over the years. The nave and transepts are from the 13th Century. The tower was added in the 15th Century. The Drake family chapel with its fine memorials to family members was added in the 18th Century. The vestry and south chapel were built in the 19th Century and were the final additions.
Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, is buried in the cemetery. She was executed on 13th July 1955 after being convicted of murdering her lover David Blakely. At the time of her death she was 28 years old. She was buried in an unmarked grave within the walls of Holloway Prison. However, because of rebuilding at the prison in the early 1970s, her remains were exhumed and reburied in the cemetery at St Marys. Her headstone at Amersham was simply inscribed "Ruth Hornby 1926 - 1955" - this being her original family name. Shortly after her death her 18 year old sister died suddenly, her husband George Ellis descended into alcoholism and hanged himself in 1958. In 1982 her eldest son Andy destroyed the headstone shortly before he committed suicide. He was only 11 when his mother was executed and was affected greatly by her death. Here grave is in a corner of the graveyard and marked by a tiny angel (see video). Many believe there is even great doubt as to whether Ruth was guilty, and to read more about this follow the link to "Searching for the Truth about Ruth Ellis by Monica Weller".
The climb up to the Amersham Martyr's Memorial is very steep and long, and depending on the time of year and which crop is planted, you can come out a different colour than when you began - I once came out yellow all over. However, the view behind of Old Amersham, with the Chilterns rolling into the distance makes it all worthwhile. As the path starts to level off, look directly down the hill and over the large Tesco superstore below to a road rising up the other side of the valley. The road is called Gore Hill and is believed to take its name from a bloody battle fought there between the Saxons and invading Danes in 921 AD.
The Martyr's Memorial (close up photo) was erected in 1931 and sits in a corner of the field in an enclosure just a few yards left of our path. This is a lonely and peaceful place and although at the top of the climb, the ground around it has levelled out enough to block the view of the town below.
The Martyrs were Lollards and consisted of six men and a woman (William Tylsworth, John Scrivener, Thomas Barnard, James Morden, Robert Rave, Thomas Holmes and Joan Norman). William Tylsworth was the leader of the Lollards in Amersham and was burnt in 1506, his married daughter Joan was forced at sword point to light the fire. The other six were burnt at the stake in 1521. John Scrivener's children were forced to light his fire. They were burnt for their religious beliefs. At the time the town was considered a hotbed of heresy and the local Bishop carefully choose the spot so the glow of the flames could easily be seen from the town below. The memorial is inscribed:
"In the shallow of depression at a spot 100 yards left of this monument seven Protestants, six men and one woman were burnt to death at the stake. They died for the principles of religious liberty, for the right to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures and to worship God according to their consciences as revealed through God's Holy Word".
Lollardy was a political and religious movement which came about in the late 14th Century. It followed the teachings of John Wyclif (born 1320, died 31st December 1384) a prominent theologian at Oxford University. He believed the Catholic Church abused its powers, put too much emphasis on wealth and needed to be reformed. He disagreed that only trained priests should be allowed to preach and he also helped translate the bible into English.
On the back of the Martyr's Memorial is a second inscription. It is to more residents of Amersham who were persecuted and killed for their beliefs. It states:
"The following men, worshippers at Amersham, were martyred in other places
Robert Cosin of Gt Missenden,
at Buckingham 1506
strangled at Woburn Bucks
His body was buried at Norland Woods 1514
burned at Smithfield 1518
burned at Chesham 1532"
Apparently, on the night before they died the martyrs were imprisoned in The Chequers pub on London Road. The pub is still in use today, dates back to about 1450 and still provides rooms to rent for the night. They martyrs were kept in a back room and their goaler was a man called Osman. Over the years The Chequers has built up a reputation of being the most haunted place in the town with up to nine ghosts identified. The screams from the back are thought to come from the martyrs; a hooded woman in white is believed to be Joan, daughter of William Tylsworth grieving for the father she was forced to burn; and the man dressed in black sometimes seen in the bar is Osman, the goaler condemned to return to the place from where he sent innocent people to their deaths. Also see Amersham Museum section on The Chequers.
There are many stories about Amersham ghosts and you can read about some of them and other mysterious things which have happened in this old town at Legends of Amersham. Also, before leaving Old Amersham, I must mention another section of Amersham Museum website. This is entitled "History of the Amersham Area", it is really tastefully done, and contains a huge amount of information on buildings, people and much more.
At the top of the climb go straight on onto a signed narrow path between high garden fences and steep downhill. The path comes out sharply onto the busy Station Road (A416). Cross straight over with care and directly onto another narrow path - this time climbing between fences. At the top, where the path is crossed by another, go straight on. This leads out onto a residential road, called Stanley Hill Avenue, and next to a small green.
Go straight on along the pavement, keeping the green to the left and crossing over to the left-hand pavement soon after passing the green. On reaching the T-junction, turn left into Stanley Hill (A404), staying on the left-hand pavement. At a traffic junction turn left under the railway bridge, then turn right at the roundabout to cross over into Raans Road.
The large middle-class estate between Station Road and Stanley Hill, through which the path to and along Stanley Hill Avenue follows, was built in the early 1930. It is only a short walk away from Amersham Station and the Metropolitan Line into London. This was an ideal place to build a commuter residential area. A 1973 BBC documentary, beautifully written and narrated by Sir John Betjeman and entitled "Metro-land", tells the story of the expansion of the Metropolitan Line and how the urban sprawl grew up along the corridor of the line. I watched this video many years ago, but wasn't able to find it again until 2018 you can watch it at this LINK - it's one of my favourite documentaries.
Follow Raans Road, staying on the left-hand pavement, eventually past an industrial estate on the right. When the pavement turns left, following what seems to be the main road (Quill Hall Lane), stay straight on past this road to your LHS, staying with Raans Lane and soon over the railway.
If hungry and passing at the right time a mobile cafe is on hand to the right just inside the main entrance to the industrial estate and before the bridge over the railway.
The lane leads to Raans Farm. Soon the road divides, stay left past two houses to the RHS, then veer right, keeping the farm to your left and past it to a gate.
Almost all of the outbuildings, at the farm, have been converted to private dwellings. The farmhouse is Grade II Listed and mostly hidden behind a hedgerow to the right of the lane about 50 yards before reaching the other buildings. It dates from the 16th Century and is built on the site of the older 12th century Raans Manor - believed to be the oldest manor in Amersham. This manor and farm played an important role in the history of Amersham Common and controlled much of the land around here, including most of the area which is now Amersham-on-the-Hill, and the land through which the railway passes. Over the years it has been owned by many powerful families including the de Mandevilles, the Duke of Bedford and Lord Chesham. The name seems to derive from the Jordan de Rane and his descendants, firstly under-tenants of Geoffrey de Mandeville 2nd Earl of Essex from 1166 and later owners until the late 14th Century.
Amersham, I will direct you to some wonderful old photos at
Go straight on through the gate along an enclosed track. The track is an unsurfaced old lane which leads to a wood named Chiltern Forest. Soon after entering the forest, the path divides (at 2 miles), take the right fork to follow a path through the forest - at points you will see fields away to your RHS.
Although it's great to see the wonderful old buildings and memorials the route passes going through Amersham, it's also lovely to get back into the quiet surroundings and greenery of the countryside. Chiltern Forest has a larger meaning and this wood is only a small part of it. The forest once covered almost all of the Chiltern Hills and half of the county of Buckinghamshire. Today the trees are mainly beeches and cover a much smaller area, in pockets like this one. The native trees were hardwoods, especially oaks and during the 18th Century almost all were cut down to provide wood for the furniture industries of High Wycombe and the surrounding areas. Their craftsmen were well skilled and called "Bodgers" (also see Wikipedia), though the term today is now sometimes used to describe someone as unskilled and good at making a mess of their work.
The path through the wood is undulating and wide. At some points narrow paths go off to both sides. However, just follow the main path straight through. To the left there are some large and clearly marked circular depressions in the ground. Most have got trees growing from them. These holes in the earth were made by bombs dropped from German planes during World War II, but luckily, they were some of those which missed their targets. Whether it was local munitions industries, the nearby Hughenden Manor with its Intelligence Centre, Bletchley Park and its code breaking Enigma Machine, Royal Windsor or just London is unclear.
This part of Chilterns is named Lane Wood. Most of the wood is to the left and through the trees to the right crop fields are visible. During spring the floor of the wood, like most in the Chilterns, is covered with a carpet of bluebells.
Before we leave the wood, its name changes from Lane Wood to Ladies' Arbour Wood. Maybe a strange name, but there must be a story here.
After 0.6 miles the path climbs steeply and comes out into a small cul-du-sac. Go straight on past Forest Cottages and to a T-junction with Bell Lane.
Cross straight over and back into the forest now named West Wood, although the signs still say Chiltern Forest. Take the track to the left, signed Public Footpath, past a wooden barrier and downhill and through the woods. After another 150 yards take a narrow path to the left.
As a rule of thumb, always stay left, but inside the wood. The narrow path weaves its way thruí the wood at times borders on the very LHS of the wood.
After another 450 yards stay left steeply downhill to a metal kissing gate.
Through the trees to the left are good views across the Chess Valley to Latimer House on the opposite hill with Latimer Park Farm below and its private fishing lake behind it. On reaching the metal kissing gate we have also joined the Chess Valley Walk. We stay with it until Latimer Village (although, by downloading the leaflet, you'll see part of what we follow is an "optional route"). This promoted walk is 10 miles long. It starts at Chesham Station and finishes at Rickmansworth Station and is waymarked.
through the gate into a field and stay left along its LHS edge and downhill (at
3 miles). After 170 yards, where the edge of the field turns left, go straight
on following the path diagonally across the field to its bottom right hand
corner. Exit the field, through a
metal kissing gate,
cross straight over the road (Latimer Road) then go through a
wooden kissing gate,
signed public footpath, and straight across a field.
Exit the field to a lane / driveway and go straight on to cross a bridge over the River Chess. Follow the driveway around to the right and uphill.
To the left, on crossing the River Chess, a statue of Neptune (God of the sea) reclines on the wall of a dam / weir, behind which is Latimer Reservoir, also known as the "Great Water". The River Chess as it flows over the dam is aptly known as "Neptune Falls" - although he is only reclining. The Domesday Book records that a mill stood on the site of Neptune Falls just after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
Latimer Park Estate is situated in an area of outstanding natural
beauty in the
The farm dates back many centuries and is sometimes referred to as Dell Farm in
old documents. Excavations have revealed a wooden Roma Villa occupied part of
the site. There is evidence of a wooden building from the 1st Century
AD and a stone villa of a corridor stile from the about 150 AD to the late 3rd
Century. From the 4th Century (the
onward little is known until Middle Saxon Times (AD650
850) when this area along the Chess Valley was given the name
During this time iron was a metal from which many things were made, especially
tools and weapons. A source of water was needed to cool the molten metal and
downstream of these works the river would appear an iron brown coloured. Hence
is Saxon for iron, "ham"
Saxon for village and
meaning a "standing
The driveway leads to a wooden gate with a kissing gate to the right of it. Go through the kissing gate and turn left along a road, past the entrance to Latimer Place (or Latimer House). After another 75 yards, turn right, through a wooden gate / gap in a low metal fence, signed Chess Valley Walk. NOTE: this may now just be signed public footpath as the Chess Valley Walk has been diverted to a permissive path south of Latimer Place. However, it is still marked as an alternative route for Chess Valley Walk on the walk's guide.
The narrow path doubles back along the opposite side of the metal fence for just a few yards and then turns left, through trees, then a wooden gate and across a field.
Latimer has many royal connections. In c1646 William Cavendish (3rd Earl Devonshire) and his mother Christian entertained King Charles I, whilst in the custody of Parliamentarian soldiers. His son Charles II also stayed as guest of the Countess of Devonshire before fleeing to the continent.
Latimer House is a red brick Elizabethan / Gothic style house replaced an older one which was badly damaged by fire in 1836. Latimer was home to the Cavendish Family for over 300 years, and their coat of arms still adorns the main doorway. It was acquired in 1615 by Sir William Cavendish, later 1st Earl of Devonshire. The first known mention of a manor here was in 1194 when it was described in records of the King's Court as part of the Honour of Wallingford. However, it did not take the name Latimer (full name "Isenhampstead Latimer") until the late 14th Century, many years after it had been given to William Latimer (3rd Lord Latimer), by Edward III in 1330. The manor remained in the Latimer Family until the mid-16th Century.
The original Elizabethan house was destroyed by a fire in the 1830s. It was replaced by the current red brick Tudor style mansion, built 1834 - 1838, designed by Edward Blore.
During the World War II, Latimer House was used as a secret interrogation centre where captured senior members of the German and Italian Forces were held prisoner. It is claimed that Rudolf Hess spent time here after his capture in Scotland. At this time all the rooms were bugged with the latest listening devices and the information collected from conversations between prisoners played a huge part in the winning of the war. In the Summer of 2013 ITV broadcast a new series of five programmes, entitled "Britain's Secret Homes". The series was made in partnership with English Heritage, and in a countdown from 50 to 1 it reveals what they believe to be the top 50 secret homes in the country. When I first wrote this, in 2014, the full version of the last episode was available at YouTube, but is no longer - if it reappears please contact me.. At the time of updating this (July 2018) some short videos of the programme have reappeared. Here are a few YouTube1, YouTube2, YouTube3, YouTube4, YouTube5, YouTube6 - there are many more, and yes, Latimer House did finish top of the list.
From 1947 to 1983 it was the Joint Services Staff College. After this the house converted to a conference centre with extra accommodation blocks and conference facilities built behind it. Today the centre is run by De Vere Venues with parkland covering an area of 33 acres. It doubles as a hotel and conference / events centre and is called Latimer Place.
Latimer House is also claimed to be haunted. It recently offered haunted breaks and you can read of "A spooktacular UK Break" experienced by Jeremy Head of the Daily Mail in October 2007.
In the grounds of the house and adjacent to the road only a few yards past where we turned off the road, is the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. It was commissioned by Charles Cavendish (1st Baron Chesham) and designed by Edward Blore. The church was completed in 1841 replacing a much older chapel dating back to at least the early 13th Century. In 1867 it was enlarged by architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott, whose uncle was Rector. You can read more at the church website.
At the opposite side of the field the path goes along a high hedge, soon between houses and descends to a road (Church Lane) in the heart of Latimer Village. Turn left and downhill, keeping the small green to your RHS. At the bottom, at T-junction, turn left along road (Flaunden Hill).
The village of Latimer is tiny and built around its small triangular green - the house and conference centre on the hill cover a much larger area. The green has two memorials relating to the Boer War and the old village pump. The larger is to those locals who died during the war and the smaller to "the horse ridden by General de Villebois Mareuil at the battle of Boshof, South Africa, 5th April 1900 in which the General was killed and the horse wounded". The horse was brought to England by Major General Lord Chesham KCB, and died on 5th February 1911. See photo of both memorials.
Around the small green the houses have not changed much in over 200 years and blend in to make a beautiful and picturesque setting. You can view old pictures and read stories of people who lived here by visiting the Francis Firth website. To read more about the archeology and history of the Chess Valley follow the link to the Chess Valley Archeological & Historical Society.
is narrow and has little traffic, but still take care as there is no pavement.
After 350 yards and shortly after Home Farm turn right onto a wide enclosed track, signed Public Bridleway 5, Flaunden 1.5 (that's miles), with a field to the left and a wood to the right.
As you turn right onto this bridleway you can see what is ahead. It's a big climb and about 150 metres up in a short distance.
After 100 yards turn left and continue to climb uphill between a fence and hedgerow to Long Wood. To the left on the climb are good views over the narrow valley to the fields beyond.
On entering the woods continue straight on following a wide bridleway (at 4 miles) - do not take the bridleway to the right and do not be tempted to turn off the main path when opportunities arise. After half a mile follow the bridleway as it turns right and changes to a track / restricted byway.
After another 220 yards stay straight on past a turn to the right. The track soon veers left then right and towards a transmission mask. Within a short distance, with some outbuildings to your RHS, turn left onto a wider track. Stay straight on along this enclosed track for 0.45 miles to the village of Flaunden.
One of the outbuildings next to the transmissions mask (0.45 miles from Flaunden) is an observatory owned by the South West Herts Astronomical Society. It's probably not a bad place to looks at the stars.
approaching the village, the spire of Flaunden church is
visible above the
hedgerow. The track leads to a road on the edge of the village Ė the
church is to the left
and the Green Dragon pub
in front. Turn right past the pub and through the village.
has many half-timbered buildings and mellow brick cottages. The Church of St
Mary Magdalene was built in 1838 of flint and wood and is thought to be the
first designed by
Sir George Gilbert Scott.
Strangely the church records go back to the early 1700s with even older records
available. The reason for this will be revealed below. To the left, along
Flaunden Hill and just past the church, the statue of a large
peers over a hedge from the back of the pub of the same name
it does take people by surprise if the enter the village from Latimer along the
road through Flaunden Bottom.
The Green Dragon dates from the 17th Century, has a large beer garden to the back, a hitching rail for horses, a cosy restaurant and a Tap Room which has virtually been unchanged since 1836. The pub website is very well laid out and has some great history, photos and lots of other information on the pub and the area. The same family has run the place since 1932 and through the years it has been one of the focal points of the village. There is a story of two young sisters visiting in the 1930's and playing in the garden with the daughter of the then Landlord and Landlady. They were called Elizabeth & Margaret and were staying nearby Latimer House. Unknown to these locals at the time, was that within 15 years Elizabeth would be Queen of England.
Two other stories tell of more unscrupulous visitors. Joachim von Ribbentrop was Nazi Germany's Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1936 to 1938. He had weekend retreats at Latimer and often visited the Green Dragon as there was no local pub at Latimer. In 1938 he was recalled to Berlin to become Adolf Hitler's Foreign Minister. After World War II the Nazis were brought to account for their actions during the Nuremburg Trials (1945 - 46). Von Ribbentrop was the first of many Nazi war criminals to be executed there. He was hanged on 16th October 1946. It's quite ironic to think that if von Ribbentrop had been taken prisoner by the Allies during the war, he may well have spent time at Latimer House under interrogation.
Some years late another regular visitor to Flaunden and the Green Dragon was Guy Burgess (1911 - 1963) one of this country's greatest traitors. Whilst studying at Cambridge University he was recruited into Soviet Intelligence by Anthony Blunt as part of what was later was known as the Cambridge Five. After university he worked for the Diplomatic Service and during the height of the Cold War, Burgess and the others passed on British secrets to the Soviets. In his visits to the village he stayed with close friends at the nearby Sharlowe's Farm - just 100 yards further along our route and on the left. The pub website says he often dropped in for breakfast and would come back later for a casual beer. On 24th May 1851 the landlord noticed Burgess in an engaging conversation, in the Tap Room, with a man the landlord had never seen before. The following day Burgess headed for the Continent and from there onto the Soviet Union. A few days later the story of the spies within the British system made the headlines in the press. From photos the landlord recognised the stranger as Donald Maclean (1913 - 1983), another member of the Cambridge Five. He had also fled to the Soviet Union. It appears both were under suspicion by British Intelligence and had been tipped off. It was one of the biggest scandals of the century.
The Green Dragon has appeared three times in the TV series Midsomer Murders. Other parts of the village have also appeared. The pub website contains lots of information on the history of both the pub and the village. Another local website worth a mention is by Flaunden Village.
Flaunden is a rear example of how a village can relocate. The original village was situated a mile and a half to the south on the banks of the River Chess and just a few hundred yards downstream from Latimer on what is now the Chess Valley Walk. There was a small church built in the 13th Century and a few cottages grew up around it. The village was susceptible to flooding from the river, so over 200 years ago the village and inhabitants were moved to higher ground. At the time the people here were employees of Lord Chesham. All that remains of the older village is the ruins of the church and a brick tomb. The latter is that of William Liberty a relative of the family who own the famous store in London. He was a brick maker who died in 1777. He requested to be buried away from the rest of the villagers so his bones could be recognised and not intertwined with others when it came to the "Judgement Day". The tomb is now a grade 2 listed building.
The Church of St Mary Magdalene is of similar design to its predecessor and was mainly financed by former rector Rev Samuel King. Some parts of the older and now abandoned church were used in its construction and many other relics still survive.
Before continuing with this guide, I will direct you to another website "Pete's Walks", as the walk at the link joins us in Flaunden and basically stays with us for the 2.5 miles to the Apostle's Pond at Chipperfield Common. There are lots of comments to read and lovely photos to see.
Continue through the village to a crossroads. Cross straight over and soon exit the village as the road begins to descend.
leaving Flaunden the
joins us from the RHS and stay with us to Holly Hedges Lane. This is a 187 mile
circular walk through the Chiltern Hills and was created by the
as its Millennium Project. We did join it previously, near the start of stage 4
at Bloom Wood above Little Marlow and followed it for two miles to Burroughs
350 yards after the crossroads, stay with the road as it veers left and still downhill to a T-junction of roads. Cross straight over and through a wooden kissing gate, signed The Chiltern Way, and onto a path / track into a wood (Lower Plantation).
The area around
here has the peculiar name
and 200 yards to the left of the T-junction is a
pub called the
(18th Century). It's
old, quaint and very inviting. Its beers and foods have recently won many
impressive awards. They were awarded by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), The Good
Pub Guide, the Michelin Guide and many others. If you have time it's
well worth a visit.
For such an interesting and historic place, the Flaunden entry in Wikipedia has very little information. However, I will still include the link as over time much more is usually added.
Follow the track / path straight through the wood. After almost half a mile, exit the wood through a wooden kissing gate (at 6 miles) onto a lane (Holly Hedges Lane). Turn right along the lane, signed Hertfordshire Way.
We have now joined the Hertfordshire Way and follow for the next 0.8 miles to Windmill Hill. It is waymarked and thus is easy to follow.
The Hertfordshire Way is a 166 mile circular route within the County of Hertfordshire. It was originally inspired by the Ramblers to celebrate their diamond jubilee in 1995 and now promoted by an autonomous group called the Friends of The Hertfordshire Way.
We soon pass an isolated house on the left, and after 175 yards, stay straight on along the lane, past a public bridleway going into woods to LHS.
After another 150 yards, where the lane turns sharp right, turn left at a metal barrier onto a footpath (signed Hertfordshire Way). Stay straight on through the woods (Woodman's Wood) - take the middle path.
170 yards the path veers right, then left. Soon
after stay straight on past a crossing
bridleway. After another 450 yards out into the corner of a field. Go straight
on along the LHS of the field and gradually downhill to exit the field, by a
stile next to a gate onto a road (Dunny Lane).
Cross over with care and turn left, along the pavement. and after 85 yards, turn right into Windmill Hill. Almost immediately, turn right onto a narrow gravel path going uphill and into the trees. We have now entered Chipperfield Common on a permissive bridleway.
NOTE: If for any reason access to the permissive bridleway is withdrawn, you can still get to the next instruction by following the Hertfordshire Way. To do this continue up Windmill Hill on the road for 260 yards. Then at a drive to a house, veer slightly right signed "Public Footpath to Kings Langley". After 110 yards veer left to rejoin our route where it says "We have rejoined the Hertford Way ..." below.
After 280 yards, and at the top of the hill, take the right fork. We have rejoined the Hertfordshire Way and follow it for 1100 yards to a pond (Apostles' Pond).
180 yards after rejoining the Hertfordshire Way a narrow road to the left leads to one of two pubs adjoining Chipperfield Common. The Windmill Pub is again another location in Midsomer Murders. It was a route I thought about using, but I choose to see more of the common.
The Apostles' Pond was used by the Dominican Friars as far back as 14th Century. It takes its name from the 12 lime trees planted around it in 1714, each named after an apostle. Apparently, Judas Iscariot got blown down in a storm. In the 1980s the other 11 were pollarded and 12 new trees were planted. The Common also has some sweet chestnut trees, planted almost 650 year ago to provide shade for Isabel of Castile, the 1st Duchess of York, when she rode on the Common.
At the Apostles' Pond, turn left along a path keeping the pond to your LHS, following "easy access route, local path no.8". We have now left the Hertfordshire Way, but will cross paths again at St Albans and Hertford.
At a fork stay straight on avoiding path branching off left. Then after another 140 yards stay straight on avoiding crossing tracks.
After another 240 yards the path comes out between a car park to your RHS and Chipperfield Cricket Ground to your LHS.
Stay along the edge of the cricked ground (at 8 miles) and then straight on, soon past Chipperfield War Memorial, and to finish at a crossroads next to the Two Brewers Inn.
There are many interesting buildings around Chipperfield Green. St Paul's Church was built in 1837, is mainly of flint and sits on the north east corner of the common, next to the green and at the centre of the village. The Two Brewers Inn dates from the 16th Century and was at one time a training house for bare-knuckle fighters. The inn started off as the centre house in a row of three. However, it became so popular that its owners acquired the other two houses and enlarged the place. This explains its long and narrow look. Today the pub is part of the "Green King Inns" group with 20 rooms to let. The old flint school, just west of the inn and north of the church, is now cottages and retains the original school's striking clock, erected to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Just south of the War Memorial is the cricket ground and pavilion and a short distance south of this on the opposite side of the road is the Queen Ann fronted, Grade II* listed, 16th Century Manor House was once home to actor Peter Sellers. You can read more about Peter Sellers at Chipperfield Manor on Hertfordshire Life.
The common itself has many pleasant walks, covers an area of over 118 acres of which most is woodland. The whole area including the village is within the "Green Belt" and was once part of the Royal Manor of Kings Langley. The first evidence of the name Chipperfield dates to 1316, when Edward II bequeathed "the Manor House of Langley the closes adjoining together with the vesture of Chepervillewode for Fewel and other Necessaries" to the Dominican Black Friars. Chepervillewode is believed to be Chipperfield Wood, cheper being derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "ceapere" meaning merchant or trader. Hence the area is thought to have been the site of a market.
Common was given to the local authority by the Lord of the Manor in 1936, for
the use of the people of the village. The common has much history to tell. There
are bronze-age tumuli in
the woods .
The village spreads over a large area and is built on a chalk plateau on the edge of the Chilterns. There are many interesting street names and a historical poem explains their origin. The Chipperfield Village Website provides much more information on the local area including up to date news and events. Below is the poem, reproduced with permission from the village website about the street names - the author is unknown.
All you who live in Chipperfield have heard of its royal past-
How kings came down from London town to hunt in its forests vast.
Dominican monks fished its pool all dressed in their monkish clothes,
But did you ever wonder how the names of its streets arose?
Now there's a tale that I've heard tell (which may or may not be true)
That some there be - just two or three - who have blood that's royal blue.
They know who they are but stay mum, that's because to be frank it
Don't look good when your claim to fame's the wrong side of the blanket.
In fifteen ten King Henry Eight came riding along these lanes
(And this was quite some time before those Catherines, Anne and Janes).
The handsome Buck rode up the Hill, watching the villagers stare,
And into what they called The Street, which was the main thoroughfare
And there he quaffed a jar of mead 'neath shade of a Royal Oak
And stopped a while to sing and dance with Chipperfield's honest folk,
Waving farewell, he spurred his horse And galloped round to the hill
Up where the breezes turned the sails that powered the old Windmill.
And there he spied a local girl, Sweet Meggy,- the miller's lass,
Plucking flowers as she tripped along just before going to Mass.
Pretty and young, rural and chaste, Dressed in a simple green gown,
Yes, she appealed to him far more than all of the girls in Town.
He spent the summer wooing her - Meggy, though, wouldn't give way -
For she had vowed to marry Fred next year on the fifth of May.
Obsessed by Megg, Henry was mad - he didn't think it funny
That she should dare to spurn a king And choose instead Fred Dunny.
Young Henry's heart was all aflame for Meggy was such a peach
In muslin gown with sleeves of green A treasure just out of reach.
The King tried every trick he knew, he even wrote her a song-
You know the one, about Greensleeves, The love that had done him wrong.
He vowed to her his heart, his life, promised he'd make her his Queen
If she would just be his that night she'd sample the royal scene.
Compared to this, life with young Fred really seemed on the grey side,
And so sweet Megg gave in at last and fell there by the Wayside.
But when he'd had his way with her, King Henry made it plain
He couldn't marry her at all 'cos of a lady from Spain.
A babe on the way, Megg distraught rushed back to the arms of Fred
But he declared the date in May was off, whatever she said.
So Megg at last sought out the nuns at the Chapel beside the Croft,
For no-one else would take her in, when asked they just jeered and scoffed.
The baby was born (just like dad she looked when she coohed and smiled)
And Alexandra was the name they gave to the royal child.
Poor Megg became a nun, I'm told, and still on each fifth of May,
When moon shines bright on starry night you may glimps a shape in grey,
Dressed in Nun's robes, clutching her child, she haunts the Fields until dawn,
Plucking flowers and singing "Greensleeves", her tragic face all forlorn.
And thus the royal blood's come down through sweet Alexandra's birth
(She had three sons by a farmer, an honest man of the earth),
So have respect for your neighbour, whether graced with brawn or brains,
For he may come from Henry's stock, with royal blood in his veins.
For some old photos, maps and more history of the village visit Hertfordshire Genealogy and Francis Firth. The Genealogy website claims that former American President, Jimmy Carter, can trace his roots back to Jeffries Farm at Chipperfield. The Chipperfield listing on Wikipedia is worth a visit, and to see listed buildings in the village go to British Listed Buildings.
Chipperfield, because of its beauty and history within the green belt, has been classified as a Conservation Area. At 112 hectares it is the largest in the Dacorum Borough. You can download the council's plans for the area HERE. It is a huge file, but has some great photos and information on the area.
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