Chalfont St Peter

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Chalfont St Peter is a village and civil parish in Chiltern district in south-east Buckinghamshire, England. It is in a group of villages called The Chalfonts which also includes Chalfont St Giles and Little Chalfont. The villages lie between High Wycombe and Rickmansworth. Chalfont St Peter is one of the largest villages in the UK with nearly 13,000 residents. The urban population for Chalfont St Peter and Gerrards Cross is 19,622, the two villages being considered a single area by the Office for National Statistics.

Gerrards Cross was once a hamlet in the parish of Chalfont St Peter, but it is now a village and civil parish in its own right.

Chalfont St Peter is in close proximity to central London (Template:Convert), Heathrow Airport, Pinewood and Elstree film studios, and the motorway network (M25, M40, M1 and M4).

History

Early history

At the time of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 949 there was no distinction made between the three separate villages: the whole area was known as Ceadeles funtan, which is Anglo-Saxon meaning Caedele's Fountain. The villages were however separated by 1237 when in manorial rolls Chalfont St Peter was referred to as Chalfund Sancti Petri. The suffix St Peter is taken from the dedication of the church in the village. Chalfont St Peter was described in 1806 in Magna Britannia as follows:

"Chalfont St Peter, in the hundred and deanery of Burnham, lies about five miles from Amersham, on the road to London, and nearly six miles from Uxbridge in Middlesex. The manor, which belonged to Missenden Abbey, was granted in 1536 to Robert Drury, esquire, whose descendants sold it in 1626 to the Bulstrodes: in 1646 it was conveyed to Thomas Gower esq. of whom, in 1650, it was purchased by Mr. Richard Whitchurch, ancestor of Mrs. Anne Whitchurch, the present proprietor.
"An ancient manor in this parish takes its name from the family of Brudenell, (collateral ancestors of the Earl of Cardigan), who formerly possessed it; from them it descended by female heirs to the Drurys and Osbornes. It afterwards came into the Duke of Portland's family, of whom it was purchased by Charles Churchill esq. the late proprietor; it is now the property of Thomas Hibbert esq. Mr. Hibbert's seat, which is called Chalfont-house, was a distinct property; and before it came into Mr. Churchill's hands, was in the families of Wilkins and Selman.
"Newlands, in this parish, the seat of Sir Henry Thomas Gott, was purchased by its present possessor about the year 1770, of Mr. Croke of Beaconsfield: it had been formerly in the family of Saunders, and was sold by Sir John Saunders to Mr. Hopkins, of whom it was purchased by Mr. Croke.

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"In the church are memorials for the family of Whitchurch. The advowson and impropriation which belonged formerly to Missenden abbey, and afterwards to the Drurys, was given by Sir Thomas Allen to the president and scholars of St. John's college in Oxford, who present the vicar and grant him a lease of the great tithes.
"The Earl of Portland built a school at Gerrard's Cross, in this parish, adjoining the road from London to High Wycombe. It has no endowment, but has always been supported by the Portland family: the duke appoints the master, and allows him a salary for teaching a number of boys of this and some of the neighbouring parishes.
"William Courtnay, who died in 1770, gave a loaf of bread weekly to each of eleven unmarried poor women of this parish, and one to the clerk."

Modern history

Today, Chalfont St Peter is one of the largest villages in the United Kingdom partly due to the proximity to Gerrards Cross railway station which lies between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill on the Chiltern Main Line. Modern buildings and urbanisation now dominate the village centre and very little historic architecture remains. The first major development of the village were rows of Georgian shops (some of which still remain). Much larger developments came in the late 1920s and these shops that run up the main street towards Gold Hill common now comprise most of the village centre. Modernisation and urbanisation continued up until the 1960s when most of the Georgian shops were demolished in favour of a concrete development of flats, offices and shops fronts surrounding a central car park.

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Popularity

The population boom

Since the building of Gerrards Cross railway station in the late 19th century, the population of Chalfont St Peter has risen dramatically. From 1801 to 1901, the populations of the village only saw a 700 person rise – giving a population of 1700. But from 1901 to the present, it has become one of the largest villages in the United Kingdom, with nearly 13,000 inhabitants.

Tourist attractions

Chalfont St Peter is often described as the Gateway to the Chiltern Hills. It is not a major tourist centre but has many places to stay the most notable being The Greyhound, (former local court house where hangings took place) which is situated at the foot of the village on the banks of the River Misbourne. While there are no tourist attractions within the village, it is well-placed for easy access to London (which only takes 30 minutes) and easy access to all of the tourist attractions within the Chiltern Hills. Nearby there are several manor houses of note, as well as many museums, cottages and parks. Milton's Cottage in Chalfont St Giles, Colne Valley Regional Park, Bekonscot Model Village, Chenies Manor House, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Odds Farm Park, Cliveden, Dorney Court, Harrow Museum & Heritage Centre, Royal Windsor Racecourse and Hughenden Manor are the nearest attractions to the village itself.

Education

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  • Robertswood Combined and Nursery School
  • Chalfont St Peter Infant School
  • Chalfont St. Peter Church of England School
  • St. Joseph's Combined Catholic School
  • Chalfonts Community College
  • Holy Cross Convent – Private Girls (Closed summer 2006)


The headquarters of Bradt Travel Guides founded by Hilary Bradt in 1974 is also located in Chalfont.

Churches

Hamlets

Hamlets in Chalfont St Peter include:

  • Austenwood
  • Chalfont Common
  • Gravel Hill
  • Layters Green
  • Horn Hill

Featuring in the media

Chalfont St Peter occasionally appears in media, the most recent being in Channel 4's Derren Brown: Apocalypse on 26th October 2012. Several local landmarks featured in the programme including The Village Hall pub on Goldhill Common and Mr. Crusty on the high street.

Chalfont St Peter also appeared in the media after Ozzy Osbourne's near fatal quad bike accident on his property in 2003.

Sport and leisure

Chalfont St Peter has a Non-League football team Chalfont St Peter A.F.C. who play at Mill Meadow.

Transport

Many bus routes run through the main town and the more suburban areas. These bus routes include connections with Slough, Amersham, Berkhamsted and Uxbridge. It is also close to Gerrards Cross railway station which has links to Marylebone and High Wycombe and Birmingham.

Other institutions

  • National Society for Epilepsy

Notable residents

  • Lewis Collins (1946-2013) - British actor, best known for his role as Bodie in the LWT action series "The Professionals" - He lived at 'Mopes Farmhouse' from the early 1980s until he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s.
  • John Laurie (1897–1980) - Scottish actor, best known for his role as Private James Frazer, in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army
  • Patrick O'Brian (1914–2000) - author of the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels was born here
  • Dame Margaret Rutherford (1892-1972) - English actress, best known for her role as Miss Marple in several films loosely based on Agatha Christie's novels
  • Len Worley, amateur footballer

References

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Further reading

  • "A History of Chalfont St Peter and Gerrards Cross", C G Edmonds, 1964 and "The History of Bulstrode", A. M. Baker, 2003 published as one book by Colin Smythe Ltd, 2003

External links

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