Prestwood shown within Buckinghamshire
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Great Missenden|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||Great Missenden|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Chesham and Amersham|
Early history and creation of parish
The village name is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means 'Priest-wood'. There is evidence of settlement in Prestwood from the Middle Ages, when the village was mainly covered in oak, beech and ash trees. Hatches Farm is one of the buildings that dates from the medieval period.
By 1849, more of the woodland had been cleared to make way for agriculture and common land, around which approximately 100 houses now existed. Many villagers worked in cottage industries such as lace making, and a wheelwrights was also present in the village. Many of the villagers made use of the common land to graze animals; there were about 70 watering ponds. In addition, gorse was harvested for fuel. Beech trees made up the bulk of the woodland, and were used in the local furniture industry. The small village population was served by five separate public houses.
Prestwood came into being as an ecclesiastical parish in 1849, when the Holy Trinity Church was constructed. The new parish combined portions of the parishes of Missenden, Hughenden and Hampden. The first vicar of Holy Trinity planted a set of ornamental trees behind the church; this now forms Prestwood Park.
In the Victorian era, Prestwood and nearby Great Missenden lay on the road between London and Birmingham. The two villages became important resting points for travellers; several rest inns came into being. Prestwood's pubs - now numbering twelve - owe part of their legacy to this fact; the name of the Travellers' Rest pub being a notable example.
Early 20th Century
Following 1850, much of the common land was sold off for agricultural development. By 1900, only a small amount of common land remained; today, Prestwood Common on Nairdwood Lane is one of the only pieces of common land still present in the village. Some of the watering holes remained, in addition to wells which were used for drinking water until the pipe network reached Prestwood in the 1930s.
As well as the Holy Trinity church, a Methodist church was constructed on the High Street and another on Bryrants Bottom. In addition, a Baptist chapel was founded on Kiln Lane (now called Kiln Road). The main industry in Prestwood continued to be agriculture; orchards were created and much of the fruit was sold to traders in London.
Prestwood continued to grow in area and population throughout the early part of the 20th century. Prestwood Infant School opened in Moat Lane in 1908, replacing the church school. The village hall was opened in 1928 by Rosamund Parker, Countess of Macclesfield. The arrival of the railway in Great Missenden improved access to central London, leading to Prestwood becoming a commuter village. However, the expansion of the village was not without its setbacks; houses were built in Perks Lane, destroying the orchids that grew there. After a long absence, orchids have recently been spotted in Cadsden near Princes Risborough.
Many agricultural businesses flourished in Prestwood. Wren Davis Dairy opened on Wycombe Road, winning award nationally for the quality of its milk. Today the dairy owns several acres of fields in the north and west of Prestwood, on which its cows still graze. Cornelius Stevens established a farmhouse, gardens, slaughterhouse and butcher's shop (named C. Stevens and Sons) on land then known as Square Farm, in the centre of the village. His four eldest sons took over the business upon his death in 1932; when it closed down in the 1960s, the steel blood bins were buried on land now belonging to Prestwood Junior School. Gaybird Ltd supplied pheasant chicks and eggs to shoots throughout the country, raising the birds in fields stretching from Prestwood as far away as Dunsmore, near Wendover. Their produce was regularly exhibited at the annual national Game Fair. Finally, a pie factory was constructed, called Farmer Giles; the site is now used for an elderly residential home called Giles Gate.
In the Second World War, a prisoner of war camp was established at Peterley Wood, whilst Prestwood Park House was used as a hospital. Two bombers collided over Prestwood with much of the wreckage falling close to Nanfans (or Nafans) Farm. Only one member of the two crews survived the collision. A plaque commemorating the tragedy can be found outside the Limes Tea House at the local garden centre, Hildreths of Prestwood.
Prestwood was home to former British Prime Minister Earl Attlee from 1950. He later moved to Martinsend Lane in Great Missenden. The house was also occupied by the late musician and broadcaster, Steve Race.
Late 20th Century
By the 1960s, the last brickworks in the village had closed and many of the orchards had been concreted over; however, the former orchid site at Perks Lane was reclaimed by the local council and turned into a nature reserve and picnic site. Despite the continued growth of the village population, four pubs closed down - the George, the Weathercock, the Golden Ball and the White Horse.
In the 1960s and 70s many large houses were constructed in Prestwood, helping to attract families to the village. This was reflected in the building of two new schools - Prestwood Junior School and Prestwood Lodge School.
Despite the loss of the London Underground service to the nearby Great Missenden railway station, an overground service has and still does continue, run by Chiltern Railways. These benefits are one reason for the district in which Prestwood lies (Chiltern) being the most expensive rural district in entire United Kingdom.
In January 2000 a further elderly home consisting of 30 flats was opened, called Cherry Orchard. leading to an increase in the number of retired people living in the village. In the early hours of Saturday 9 December 2006, a large fire swept through the Cherry Orchard residential home, killing one elderly woman and forcing 12 others to be rescued. Most of the ground floor was gutted in the fire, which started when a resident left clothes on top of a faulty electric radiator; all of the residents were moved out until rebuilding work could be completed.
In 2001, the old Prestwood Leisure Centre was demolished. After a much-delayed rebuilding program over the following two years, the Sprinters Fitness Centre opened in its place in 2003. It included three newly built tennis courts and two fitness studios. The opening helped to revitalise Prestwood's economy and continues to attract people from the surrounding area.
The land on which Prestwood's only petrol station existed was bought by Beeks Homes Ltd in 2002. The petrol station was demolished on the premise that, whilst new homes would be built on the site, a smaller petrol station would also be included in the plans. When Beeks turned back on these plans, two years of legal wranglings ensued between the company and the parish council; eventually, the council relented and solely homes were constructed.
The Travellers' Rest pub was demolished to make way for new homes in March 2013.
Prestwood's economy has moved away from agriculture (e.g. the Prestwood pie factory) to service-based in recent years; several new health centres and hairdressers have come to the area. Some businesses, such as the village's only petrol station, have been closed to make way for new homes. The two large residential homes, Giles Gate and Cherry Orchard, have allowed the elderly to take advantage of Prestwood's surroundings.
A Sainsbury's supermarket is under development in the heart of the village.
There are three primary schools in Prestwood: Prestwood Infant School, for 4-7 year olds; Prestwood Junior School, for 7-11 year olds, and Prestwood Lodge School, a special needs school for children from the age of 11-16. In June 2008, Prestwood Infant School celebrated its centenary.
The local catchment secondary schools are the Misbourne School, an upper school, and Dr Challoner's Grammar School (boys), Dr Challoner's High School (girls), Chesham Grammar School (mixed) and The Royal Grammar School for Boys which are all grammar schools.
Sport and leisure
There is a children's Football Club, Prestwood Colts and Girls F.C., who play at Prestwood Common.
Missendens badminton Club meets at Prestwood Junior School on Wednesday evenings.
The village is also home to one of the largest gymnastic clubs in Buckinghamshire, which is held at Prestwood Junior School on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.
Bus services, run by Arriva Shires & Essex, run to High Wycombe in one direction, and Great Missenden and Chesham in the other. From Great Missenden, it is also possible to connect to other bus services to Aylesbury and Hemel Hempstead.
- Former prime minister Clement Attlee used to live in Prestwood, and after retiring he took his seat in the House of Lords as Earl Attlee and Viscount Prestwood.
- Actor and comedian Noel Fielding also used to live in the village whilst studying in Wycombe
- During the 19th Century Prestwood was famous for its cherry orchards and parties of Londoners would travel out to the area during the spring to view the blossoms.
- Chequers, the country residence of the Prime Minister, is a few miles north of the village. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair often brought his family to the Great Missenden Catholic church in Great Missenden at the weekends. David Cameron took part in the 2012 Sports Relief fun run at the Sprinters Leisure Centre site.
- The Prestwood Society history display (displayed to public at Prestwood Village Hall)
- Display board outside Wren Davis dairy on Wycombe Road
- "Country life premium as rural homes 14 per cent up on living in a town". Daily Mail (London). 24 August 2007.
- Phillips, Neil (23 July 2007). "Cherie Blair keeps her playground date". Bucks Free Press. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- Prestwood Wycombe & District Football League
- Prestwood tourist information
- Noel Fielding talks the formation of The Mighty Boosh during Wycombe student days
Media related to Prestwood at Wikimedia Commons