Infobox UK place|
official_name= Hawridge
country= England
region= South East England

os_grid_reference= SP950060
latitude= 51.7449
post_town= Chesham
postcode_district = HP5
postcode_area= HP
dial_code= 01494
constituency_westminster= Chesham and Amersham
london_distance= 27 miles
shire_district= Chiltern
shire_county= Buckinghamshire
website= [http://www.cholesbury.com]
hide_services= yes

Hawridge is a small village in the Chilterns in the county of Buckinghamshire, England and bordering the county boundary with Hertfordshire. It is 3 miles from Chesham, 4 miles from both Tring and Berkhamsted.

Hawridge is one of four villages comprising Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards, a civil parish within Chiltern District. Heath End is a hamlet which has always been closely associated with Hawridge although historically part of the settlement had been in Hertfordshire until the second half of 20th century. The name probably derives from its location on the edge of Wigginton Heath.

It is a rural community but the agricultural economy is small and most local people rely for employment on neighbouring towns, the proximity of London, the availability of broadband technology or local tourism and the popularity of the area for recreational activities.


Before the incorporation of additional land from adjacent parishes, Hawridge historically comprised some 696 acres. It is located in the main along a ridge on the dip slope within the Chiltern downland landscape. It is some 590ft (182m) above see level


The geology of the area has dictated the land use. The soil comprises gravely clay, intermixed with flints, small pebbles, and öolite over a chalk formation. Several examples of puddingstones a characteristic form of this aggregate have been found locally. There are no streams in the area due to the porous chalk sub soil. In places the occurrence of clay close to the surface accounts for several natural ponds fed by springs. Until connection with mains water in the mid 20th century, the scarcity of water had necessitated the sinking of deep wells and capture of rainwater.

Land use

In contrast to nearby areas of the Chilterns more land is given over to open space i.e. agricultural, both arable and pasture; paddocks; heathland and most significantly the Common along one side of which the majority of houses are arranged. There is relatively little mature ancient woodland remaining as most was cleared mainly during the 18th century and given over to beech plantation connected with the furniture making industry in High Wycombe. Both chalk and a small amount of clay have been extracted over the years, Meanwhile in more recent times flint was dug out for road making. Both activities have left their mark in the form of small mounds and shallow depressions.

Historically, many homes had access to orchards, gardens for vegetable production and pasture for domestic animals. These have largely disappeared and over the last ten years or so the increasing popularity of horse riding has created a demand for suitable land for paddocks.


Villages in this part of the Chilterns are often set out around Greens and Commons or strung out along ridges with which they connect often without a gap to adjacent settlements. Despite being not far distant from Chesham, Hawridge is consequently more closely linked in this way with the neighbouring villages of Cholesbury, St Leonards and Buckland Common.

Until 1935 Hawridge did not have mains water. Drainage did not arrive until 1963! The road down to Chesham was frequently impassable in winter and periodic flooding has occurred even in recent years. The Second World War resulted in an influx of people escaping the London Blitz and not returning afterwards. This migration had a lasting affect with more houses built or greatly enlarged or refurbished. Transport improvements enabling daily commuting to London from the 1950s onwards also led to a further change with the growth in more affluent families which irrevocably changed the composition of the village community.

Concerns in the 1960s about uncontrolled housing development encouraged the establishment of resident's groups focussed on preserving the village scene. Situated in the Chilterns AONB, and combined with national and local government planning controls there is strict enforcement of restrictions on residential building developments. This has led to a shortage in affordable and social housing. The scarcity of available property has added a premium onto house prices in Hawridge (average selling price circa £700k as at 2007) and neighbouring villages compared to other areas in the rest of the South-east of England.


Origins and the early settlement

The original village name "Aucrug" is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means 'ridge frequented by hawks'. However, there is evidence of much earlier settlement from archaeological finds, including a Palaeolithic handaxe found in Heath End, a hamlet of Hawridge having probably arrived with road materials transported to the site. From the discovery of a late Bronze Age sword, now at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford it has been concluded that there was a permanent settlement in the area from around 300 to 100BC. [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IzUGAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA215&dq=hawridge&lr=&ei=9DRVSIXBAZ6MjAGPvr2VAw#PPA215,M1 Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London Vol 2 1852 p215 ] ]

Adjacent to White Hawridge Bottom is evidence of strip lynchets and terraces built around 11th century. Lynchets are the result of ploughing accumulating earth on the lowest point of the slope and building up a terrace of flatter ground on square or rectangular early medaevil fields.

There is evidence of trading activity through finds of coins spanning from around 4th Century, the late Roman period of Valentinian I, and about 1450 during the reign of Edward IV.

English Civil War

Hawridge is said to have associations with the English Civil War during the 1640s Parliamentary soldiers were billeted in the area at a time when skirmishes were occurring in and around Wendover and Chesham. Adjacent to Horseblock Lane, which crosses Hawridge Common, may have been where their horses were quartered. It has also been said that during one particularly fierce skirmish with the Royalists, dead horses were used to form a barricade from which the name of the lane is derived.

Lords of the Manor

The manor of Hawridge is not mentioned in the Domesday Book. The first records are from 13th century when it was associated with John de Beauchamp a relative of the Earl of Warwick. Around 1319 and through connections between the de Beauchamp familiy it became connected to one of the estates held by the Bassetts in Marsworth. By 1379 the manor had passed to Edward or Edmund Cook who gave it up to pay off debts. The Penyston family held the manor from the beginning of the 15th century.

Via successive conveyances the manor came to Thomas Tasburgh and his wife Dorothy who was the widow of Sir Thomas Packington and had acquired some notoriety for her geremandering of elections at Aylesbury. By 1650 and several conveyances later the manor was in the hands of John Seare. From the beginning of the 18th century his son Richard owned jointly the manors of Hawridge and Cholesbury, an arrangement which has continued to the today. The manoral rights were acquired by Robert Dayrell in 1748 and remained in the control of absentee landlords until the end of the 19th century. Henry Turner, a J.P. was the first Lord of the Manor to reside in the locality for 300 years when in 1899 he took up residency at Braziers End House in Cholesbury.

The Manorial Court which had ceased to operate during the early 1800s as the Church Vestry and later parish meetings held greater sway, was revived by Henry Turner. Held quarterly at the Full Moon, there are records of frequent fines for such misdeeds as turning out animals on the Common or removing from it wood or stone without permission.

Local Economy

Like the neighbouring village of Cholesbury, Hawridge with its extensive Commons was on an important droving route. There were once several alehouses located close to the Commons. They were able to flourish due to this boost in trade between the 18th and later on when up until the early part of the 20th centuries they were also frequented by the growing numbers of brickyard and agricultural labourers. The Full Moon Pub, which is closest to the parish boundary with Cholesbury, is recorded as having its first licensed keeper in 1766 although as an unlicensed alehouse it may date back to 1693. Further along the Common is the Rose and Crown, first licensed in 1753. Down Hawridge Vale is the oldest of the three, the Black Horse, which first opened in the mid 1600s. Other alehouses such as the Mermaid, across the road from the 'Moon', came and went but these three have survived to the present day.

The poor quality of the land though meant that employment for villagers was often of a casual nature. Straw plaiting was the chief occupation of women and children during most of the nineteenth century. The plait was sent to Luton or London. The availability of daily train services to London also provided income from pheasant rearing. Until the Second World War agriculure had been the principle industry in the area. During the 20th century, much of the land was gradually taken out of agricultural use until today when only a minimal acreage is given over to or cattle and sheep-grazing or arable farming. The relative closeness to Chesham provided opportunity for work within, for example, one of the many mills or boot factories. The arrival of the railway to Chesham during the 1880s, the relative closeness to London and other conurbations and improvement to the road networks and public transport resulted in work being sought from further afield. The village supported a number of small shops until the 1960s when supermarkets and increased car ownership sealed their fate.

Although a few small businesses such as a blacksmith and the three pubs remain today, there are no longer employers of significant numbers of local people within the village itself. In contrast the 2001 census has indicated a further change in employment patterns with increasing numbers of professional workers taking advantage of enhanced telecommunication through availability of broadband connectivity to work from home.


The census of 1801 records there were 121 inhabitants in 24 families living in 21 houses in Hawridge. According to the subsequent censuses the population grew rapidly between 1801 and 1861 when it was 276 and then fell back by 1901 to just 209. By 1931 it had again increased to 222.

As at 2001 93.5% of the local people were recorded as of White ethnic origin. Just under 80% declared they were Christians. Some 45% of people were in employment and 21%, a significantly higher proportion than elsewhere in the district, were self-employed and over 15% were retired which was slightly higher than in nearby areas.


Children between the ages of 5 and 11 attend Hawridge and Cholesbury Church of England Primary School. Today the catchment area covers the neighbouring villages of Bellingdon, Cholesbury, St Leonards and Buckland Common (the latter two since the close of the school at St Leonards).

The school was originally founded as a National School and opened in 1874 on land given by the Lord of the Manor. Before this the only education available was from the 'straw-plait' school, which were a common feature of villages in this part of the Chilterns and were also mentioned in a Select Committee report of 1819.

Landmarks and buildings

The original site of the manor house was Hawridge Court. The groundworks that surround the manor are thought to pre-date it, are circular and include a deep moat for part of the circumference. The original part of the Court was a 16th century timber framed Tudor cottage occupied periodically by the Lord of the Manors of Hawridge and Cholesbury. Additional buildings were constructed around 1700.

The original school house which was built by 1874 remains today as an intregal part of the modern school. St Mary’s Church was first mentioned in 1227. During the 17th century it fell into disrepair and was only fully restored in 1856 by William White, using original flint-and-brick materials. It has retained its 13th century circular font. [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GssMAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA268&lpg=PA268&dq=hawridge&source=web&ots=pQidfmtf0Z&sig=KrV2dwg844zo07Oc5LCiJehBa0U&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=9&ct=result#PPA268,M1 Records of Buckinghamshire Vol1 1858 p268] ] Oliver Cromwell ordered that church organs be removed in 1644. Churches relied on bands comprising local musicians to provide accompaniment until organs were reintroduced in the 19th century. An old bassoon made around 1800 and played at St Mary's was found during refurbishment of the church and is now to be found in Buckinghamshire County Museum Aylesbury.

A Mission Hall was open in 1879 by the Hope Hall (now Kings Road Evangelical Church), Berkhamsted with the words ”The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah). Today the Hall is a private house.

The water pumping station at Nut Hazel Cross was built in the 1950s to meet the increased demands for water to supply population growth in the area to the north as far as Aylesbury. However, despite the increased extraction of surface water the road to Chesham, which lacked any drainage, continues to flood to this day with water coming off the hills. It was frequently impassable during the winter months. The construction of public works such as this also signified a period of modernisation of other services including electricity and improvements in the roads, both in Hawridge and the neighbouring hilltop villages. [Cite book | author=Piggin, George | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Tales of Old Chesham | date=1993 | publisher=Highgate Publications (Beverley) Ltd | location= | isbn=0-948929-70-7 | pages=]


Almost 95% of local residents have access to a car. Over the years the provision of buses has decreased significantly. Today a bus service runs once each way on alternative days connecting to Chesham, Tring and local villages. School buses are a valuable facility transporting children to Secondary Schools in Chesham and Amersham.

port and recreation

The local area with its open views, rural lanes, commons and woodland, criss-crossed by footpaths and bridleways consequently are very popular with cyclists, walkers and horse-riders. The churches of Hawridge and Cholesbury jointly hold a Summer Fête on August Bank Holiday, alternatively on Hawridge and Cholesbury Commons. The Vale of Aylesbury with Garth & South Berks Hunt traditionally hold a meet on Boxing Day (26 December) which draws a large crowd from the local district. Quoits was played on the Commons up until the 1920s and the Full Moon pub had a Bowling Alley until the 1970s.


The manoral rights originating from the 12th century, which have continued to be held jointly with Cholesbury since 17th century no longer control village life. Hawridge and Cholesbury Commons Preservation Society manage the Commons, which is still owned by a Lord of the Manor. The church vestry has been succeeded by the parochial church council focussing on church affairs and its responsibilities for the village ceded to the parish council.

Hawridge together with the neighbouring villages of Cholesbury, St Leonards and Buckland Common are locally known as the Hilltop Villages. Until the 1930s, Hawridge had been a separate parish and part of Aylesbury Rural District. In 1934 it came together with the other villages to form the civil parish of Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards and became part of Amersham Rural District which as part of the 1974 Local Government reorganisation was succeeded by Chiltern District.

Notable people

Alpin Errol Thomson, an Australian Cricketer born Perth 1893 who played during the 1922/3 season for Somerset and the Royal Navy, subsequently lived at Hawridge Place until his death on 6 March 1960.

Margaretta Scott, English actor of stage, film and television (1912 - 2005) lived in the village during the middle part of the 20th century.

External links

* [http://www.cholesbury.com Cholesbury parish website]
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42580&strquery=hawridge British History Online – Victorian History of Buckinghamshire Volume 3 – Hawridge]
* [http://met.open.ac.uk/genuki/big/eng/BKM/Hawridge/Index.html Genuki - Hawridge]
* [http://ubp.buckscc.gov.uk/ Unlocking Buckinghamshire's Past]


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