Medmenham

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Medmenham
Medmenham Church.JPG
St Peter's parish church
Medmenham is located in Buckinghamshire
Medmenham
Medmenham
Location within Buckinghamshire
Population960 [1]
1,030 (2011 Census)[2]
OS grid referenceSU8084
Civil parish
  • Medmenham
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townMarlow
Postcode districtSL7
Dialling code01491
PoliceThames Valley
FireBuckinghamshire
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
Buckinghamshire
51°33′14″N 0°50′17″W / 51.554°N 0.838°W / 51.554; -0.838Coordinates: 51°33′14″N 0°50′17″W / 51.554°N 0.838°W / 51.554; -0.838
Medmenham Abbey

Medmenham (/ˈmɛdənəm/) is a village and civil parish in the Wycombe district of Buckinghamshire, England. It is on the River Thames, about 3 12 miles (5.6 km) southwest of Marlow and 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Henley-on-Thames. The parish also includes Danesfield, a housing estate for predominantly RAF officers, although families of other ranks from the RAF, Royal Navy and British Army also live there.

Toponym[edit]

The toponym is derived from the Old English for "middle-sized homestead". An alternative explanation of the name is from the Saxon leader Meda, whose followers were known as Medings, hence Medin'ham, Medham, or Medmenham. It was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Medmeham.

Features[edit]

The village includes some old timber framed brick and flint cottages and some estate workers cottages built at the beginning of the 20th century from local chalk rock. The Church of England parish church of Saint Peter was heavily restored in 1839. The Dog and Badger Inn on the A4155 road dates from late in the 16th century, the name having been transferred from the inn at Hambleden which was renamed the Stag and Huntsman.

The village lane ends at the Old Ferry crossing which ceased to be used after the Second World War. It was where the Thames towpath crossed from the Buckinghamshire to Berkshire bank of the river. On the towpath beside the former ferry crossing stands the large Medmenham Ferry Memorial that commemorates Lord Devonport's successful 1899 defence of the public right-of-way over the ferry.

Next to the village, but separated from it by the A4155, is the first of two Iron Age hill forts, Medmenham Camp. Danesfield Camp also known as Danes Ditches is located slightly further along the road to the east near to the village of Hurley.[3]

Also attached to the village are the hamlets of Lower Woodend and Rockwell End.

Abbey[edit]

A Cistercian abbey was founded in Medmenham in the 12th century under the ownership of Woburn Abbey, though it was not officially recognised by royal charter until 1200. It was dedicated to St. Mary but closed in 1536. In 1547, at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey was seized and given to the Moore family and then sold privately to the Duffields. It was while in the possession of the Duffields that the abbey became infamous as the location of The Hellfire Club, headed by Sir Francis Dashwood, formerly called the Monks of Medmenham who used it for "obscene parodies of religious rites" according to one source, between the mid 1700s and 1774, though the club was already in disrepute by 1762.[4] During that era, it was renovated to resemble a Gothic building. Eventually, the meetings were moved out of the abbey into a series of tunnels and caves in West Wycombe Hill.[5]

Years later, the West Wycombe Caves in which the Friars met became a tourist site[6] known as the "Hell Fire Caves".

Dashwood had leased the ruins of the abbey from the Duffield family. After the Club was defunct (by 1763), the property was sold to the Chief Justice of Chester. In 1898, the building was modified and then, it no longer resembled an abbey.[7] Subsequent renovations were completed in the 20th century.[8]

Today the building is a private residence and is not open to the public. A report in 2015 indicated it had been owned by a German family with a part of the abbey purchased in the 1970s and the rest in the mid 1990s. The property was listed for sale at the time. The report indicated that the 12,000sq ft interior included "nine bedrooms ..., six reception rooms, a gymnasium, a bar, a housekeeper’s cottage and staff offices".[9] The property has been Grade II listed since 1955. By that time, it had been converted from a mansion into two houses, using some of the masonry from the original Abbey. The summary confirms that the house had been modified in 1755 for Sir Francis Dashwood and restored and extended in 1898.[10]

Landmarks of the Civil Parish[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics 2001 Census
  2. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  3. ^ Bucks Archaeological Service Later Bronze Age and Iron Age Historic Environment Resource Assessment, retrieved 23 April 2009[dead link]
  4. ^ The Thames Path: National Trail from London to the river's source
  5. ^ Medmenham Abbey – Home of the Notorious Secret Society ‘Hellfire Club’
  6. ^ Hell-fire caves
  7. ^ Parishes: Medmenham Pages 84-89 A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3
  8. ^ Medmenham Abbey – Home of the Notorious Secret Society ‘Hellfire Club’
  9. ^ Two beautiful Buckinghamshire houses for sale
  10. ^ MEDMENHAM ABBEY, ABBEY HOUSE AND WALL WITH ARCH TO FORECOURT

External links[edit]