Beaconsfield

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For other uses, see Beaconsfield (disambiguation).
Beaconsfield
Beaconsfield is located in Buckinghamshire
Beaconsfield
Beaconsfield
 Beaconsfield shown within Buckinghamshire
Population 12,081 [1]
OS grid reference SU945900
Civil parish Beaconsfield
District South Bucks
Shire county Buckinghamshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Beaconsfield
Postcode district HP9
Dialling code 01494
Police Thames Valley
Fire Buckinghamshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Beaconsfield
List of places
UK
England
Buckinghamshire

Coordinates: 51°36′03″N 0°38′05″W / 51.600873°N 0.634682°W / 51.600873; -0.634682

Beaconsfield Listeni/ˈbɛkənzfld/ is a market town and civil parish operating as a town council within the South Bucks district in Buckinghamshire, England. It lies 23.6 miles (38 km) northwest of Charing Cross in Central London, and 17 miles (27 km) south-east of the county town of Aylesbury. Other nearby towns include Amersham to the north northeast, Gerrards Cross to the southeast and High Wycombe to the west.

The town is adjacent to the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is part of the London commuter belt, which is reflected in house prices.

History and description[edit]

The parish comprises Beaconsfield town and land mainly given over arable land though some beech forest remains from that planted to supply the furniture industry of High Wycombe.

The first written reference to Beaconsfield dates from 1185 where it is spelt Bekenesfeld. Although this is mistakenly thought to mean "field by the beacon," actually it is derived from "clearing in the beeches" (beech trees).

The parish church at the crossroads of Old Beaconsfield is dedicated to St Mary, it was rebuilt of flint and bath stone by the Victorians in 1869. The United Reformed Church in Beaconsfield can trace its roots of non-conformist worship in the town back to 1704.[2] Old Beaconsfield has a number of old coaching inns along a wide street of red brick houses and small shops. It was the first (coach) stopping point on the road between London and Oxford.

An annual fair is traditionally held on 10 May. Its charter, dating from 1269[citation needed],originally allowed for a yearly market for the trading of goods and livestock, but it has now developed into a funfair, erected for one day only on the main roads of the "Old Town". In recent years some residents have opposed the fair as a hindrance to the Old Town, and have called for it to be scrapped[citation needed] even though the fair has been going for over 735 years.

In the Victorian era the town was the home constituency of Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1868 and then again from 1874 until 1880 (in fact his home, Hughenden Manor is in the nearby town of High Wycombe). In 1876 he was made the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield by Queen Victoria with whom he was very popular. It was due to this, that Beaconsfield became a popular road name in industrial cities across the country in the late Victorian era.

It is the burial place of the author G. K. Chesterton, Edmund Burke and the poet Edmund Waller, for whom a tall stone obelisk was erected over the tomb chest in St Mary and All Saints churchyard.[3]

St Mary and All Saints Church, Beaconsfield and the tomb of Edmund Waller.

In 1624, Waller's family acquired Wilton Manor and Hall Barn in the town.[4] "The Wallers, who came from Speldhurst, Kent," says the Victoria County history of Buckinghamshire, "were settled at Beaconsfield as early as the 14th century."

Dominic Grieve is the Member of Parliament for Beaconsfield, first elected in 1997, and now the Attorney General. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom famously contested the seat in a by-election in 1982 and lost. He was defeated by Tim Smith, who stood down in disgrace fifteen years later after admitting that he had taken Cash for Questions from Mohammed Al-Fayed.

Today the town is very prosperous and quite picturesque. It is the home of Bekonscot model village, which was the first model village in the world; and Beaconsfield Film Studios becoming the National Film and Television School, where many film directors and technicians have learned their craft. It is the birthplace of Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series of fantasy novels. Several scenes in Brief Encounter, a classic film about a woman in a dull middle class marriage who almost undertakes an affair, were filmed in the town: Station Parade served as Milford High Street and Boots on Burke's Parade was where Alec runs into Laura.[5] The exterior of the Royal Saracens Head Inn can be seen in the James Bond film Thunderball, and the interior shots for the pub in Hot Fuzz were filmed in the Royal Standard pub. The New Town also features in two other postwar colour films, John & Julie and The Fast Lady. Many other parts of the town have been used in films due to the old film studio and nearby Pinewood Studios. More recently it has often been used as a "location" for the TV murder mystery series, Midsomer Murders and the Inspector Morse spinoff Lewis.

The New Town was built 1 mile further to the north, when the railway arrived, at the turn of the 20th century. The railway station is on the Chiltern Main Line out of Marylebone towards High Wycombe it then branches to Aylesbury, and Birmingham Snow Hill. Old Beaconsfield which grew up on the Oxford Road in part to serve the coach traffic, is mirrored by New Beaconsfield which has grown up round the station.

Beaconsfield is also home to the Chiltern Shakespeare Company, which annually holds amateur performances of Shakespeare plays, Beaconsfield Theatre Group (over 60 years old), Beaconsfield Operatic Society (over 100 years old) and to The Young Theatre (at Beaconsfield), a theatre company "run by young people for young people" and winners of the All British Festival of One Act Plays in 2004.

Dr Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, was a GP in the town before being elected to Parliament (in a Somerset constituency).

Local pop band The Hit Parade released their single "On The Road To Beaconsfield", a celebration of Enid Blyton and her life in the town, in 1994.[6]

Beaconsfield was named 'Britain's richest town' by The Telegraph in 2008. The ranking was based on average house prices, calculated to be £684,474 in Beaconsfield. The neighbouring towns of Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St Peter were listed as second.[7] In 2011, Prime Location revealed that the area has the highest proportion in the UK of £1 million-plus homes for sale (at 47%, compared to 3.5% nationally).[8]

Sport and Leisure[edit]

Transport[edit]

The town is very well served by road and rail. The M40 runs very close to the town (Beaconsfield is M40 Junction 2) and is 4 lanes wide in either direction from the M40/M25 Junction to M40 Junction 3. The motorway leads to London towards the east and Oxford and Birmingham to west. Junction 2 is home to the Beaconsfield motorway services. Local roads include the A355 which connects Amersham and Slough via Beaconsfield, although this has very heavy traffic in peak times. The A40 parallels the M40 from London to Oxford and for years was the main road between the two cities. With the building of the M40 in the 60s and 70s the road has been relieved, but it still gets heavily congested. The B474 connects the town to Hazlemere.

Rail links generally run close to the motorway. Beaconsfield railway station sees services to Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street, and London Marylebone. Services are provided by Chiltern Railways who provide regular fast and slow services, the faster ones being able to reach London in around twenty five minutes. Beaconsfield is also a popular park and ride station for commuters who drive towards the capital along the M40 and M4 corridors who don't want to take their cars into London's congestion charge and parking problems.

Twin town[edit]

Education[edit]

Buckinghamshire County Council operates a selective secondary education system, rather than a comprehensive system. Pupils can take the 11+ test at the beginning of year 6, when they are age 10 or 11. Approximately 30% attain a score that makes them eligible to go to grammar schools, as well as to the county's upper schools.

Beaconsfield is also home to the Defence School of Languages located on the Wilton Park Estate.[17]

Notable residents[edit]

With good access to London (and latterly Heathrow Airport and the motorway system) and having substantial estates and houses, Beaconsfield has been home to many luminaries over the centuries.


  • Enid Blyton (1897 – 1968) writer, who lived for most of her life in Green Hedges — a large house that has since been demolished but there is an Enid Blyton Room nearby at The Red Lion pub in Knotty Green, where there is a gallery of pictures and a library of books, donated by The Enid Blyton Society[18] There is a model of her house at Bekonscot Model Village. In 2014 a plaque recording her time as a resident in the town from 1938 until her death in 1968 was unveiled in the town hall gardens, next to small iron figures of Noddy and Big Ears.[19]
  • Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797) statesman and the founder of political conservatism, lived in the Gregories estate just outside Beaconsfield[20]
  • G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936) writer, is buried in Beaconsfield[21]
  • James Corden (born 1978) actor and TV presenter, lived in Beaconsfield until 2009[22]
  • Beverley Craven (born 1963) singer, has lived in Beaconsfield since 2003[23]
  • Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice between 1868 and 1880 was created Earl of Beaconsfield by Queen Victoria in 1876[24]
  • Robert Frost (1874 – 1963) poet, moved to Beaconsfield with his family in 1912[25]
  • Barry Gibb (born 1946) singer with the Bee Gees[26]
  • Dame Wendy Hiller (1912 – 2003) actress, moved to Beaconsfield with her husband Ronald Gow in the early 1940s and lived there until her death[27]
  • Peter Jones (born 1966) entrepreneur and star of Dragon's Den lives in Beaconsfield with his wife and children[28]
  • Albert Ernest Kitson (1868 – 1937) geologist and naturalist, moved to Beaconsfield in 1930 and died there in 1937[29]
  • Anne Main (born 1957) MP for St Albans, Hertfordshire, is from Beaconsfield originally[30]
  • Airey Neave (1916 – 1979) politician, grew up in Beaconsfield[31]
  • Sir Gore Ouseley (1770 – 1844) ambassador, orientalist and High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, died in Beaconsfield[32]
  • Swaraj Paul (born 1931) business magnate and philanthropist, lives in Beaconsfield[33]
  • Sir Terry Pratchett (born 1948) writer, was born and brought up in Beaconsfield[34]
  • Piers Paul Read (born 1941) novelist and non-fiction author, was born in Beaconsfield[35]
  • Peter Rogers (1916 – 2009) Carry On Films producer, lived for many years in Beaconsfield because of its proximity to Pinewood Studios[36]
  • Alison Uttley (1884 – 1976) writer, moved to Beaconsfield during the Second World War[37]
  • Edmund Waller (1606 – 1687) poet, lived at Hall Barn in Beaconsfield[38]
  • Molly Templeton (1989-) Grew up in the town, before achieving fame on YouTube

Romain Grosjean. Formula 1 driver currently driving for Team Lotus.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics Census 2011, Accessed 2 February 2011
  2. ^ www.beaconsfield-urc.org History Pages
  3. ^ Beaconsfield, GENUKI
  4. ^ Beaconsfield, A History of the County of Buckingham, William Page, 1925, British History Online
  5. ^ "Filming locations for Brief Encounter (1945)". IMDB.com. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  6. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlaUJaugr_k
  7. ^ "Britain's richest towns: 10 - 1". The Daily Telegraph (London). 19 April 2008. 
  8. ^ "Million Pound Hotspots: Towns and Areas Revealed". 
  9. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  10. ^ Beaconsfield High School website
  11. ^ The Beaconsfield School website
  12. ^ Davenies School website
  13. ^ 2004 Report of Davenies School by the Independent Schools Inspectorate
  14. ^ High March School website
  15. ^ 2003 Report of High March School by the Independent Schools Inspectorate
  16. ^ Butlers Court School Website
  17. ^ Ministry of Defence School of Languages, this part of Beaconsfield accommodates people studying many different languages.
  18. ^ Bensoussane, Anita. "A Biography of Enid Blyton—The Story of Her Life". The Enid Blyton Society. Archived from the original on 22 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  19. ^ Enid Blyton plaque unveiled in Beaconsfield "BBC-online" published 8 May 2014, Accessed 8 May 2014
  20. ^ Lambert, Elizabeth R. (2003). Edmund Burke of Beaconsfield. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-87413-800-0. 
  21. ^ Chesterton, G. K. (2008). Orthodoxy. Fairfield, Iowa: 1st World Library. p. 187. ISBN 1-4218-9380-0. 
  22. ^ Burns, Greg (23 January 2009). "Beaconsfield bakery missed James Corden's business". Buckinghamshire Advertiser. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  23. ^ Vilku, Jassmine (15 October 2009). "Comeback for singer Beverley Craven". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  24. ^ Blake, Robert (1966). Disraeli. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 566. 
  25. ^ Parini, Jay (2000). Robert Frost: A Life. New York, New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-6341-2. 
  26. ^ "Barry Gibb's House". Virtual Globetrotting. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  27. ^ "Dame Wendy Hiller dies at 90". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  28. ^ Abell, Jack (6 January 2009). "New Years Honours for south Bucks residents". Buckinghamshire Advertiser. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  29. ^ Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (Great Britain) (1937). Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, Volume 47. Los Angeles, California: E. & F.N. Spon, Ltd. p. 543. 
  30. ^ Lyon, John (4 February 2010). "St Albans MP Anne Main's full interview with John Lyon". St Albans Review. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  31. ^ Routledge, Paul (2002). Public servant, secret agent: the elusive life and violent death of Airey Neave. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Fourth Estate. p. 23. ISBN 1-84115-244-7. 
  32. ^ "OUSELEY, Gore". Encyclopædia Iranica. 2004. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  33. ^ Jones, Barbara (7 March 2010). "How Sarah Brown charmed the 'Labour Ashcroft'". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  34. ^ Smith, Kevin P. (20 September 2002). "Terry Pratchett". The Literary Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  35. ^ Wakeman, John (1980). World authors, 1970-1975. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Wilson. p. 673. ISBN 978-0-8242-0641-3. 
  36. ^ Sellers, Robert (16 April 2009). "Peter Rogers: Film producer who co-created the 'Carry On' comedies". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  37. ^ Judd, Denis (1986). Alison Uttley: the life of a country child (1884-1976) : the authorised biography. Joseph. ISBN 0-7181-2449-9. 
  38. ^ Waller, Edmund (1854). Poetical works of Edmund Waller. J. W. Parker. p. 9. 

External links[edit]