Beaconsfield /ËbÉkÉnzfiËld/ is a market town and civil parish operating as a town council within the South Bucks district in Buckinghamshire centred 23.6 miles (38Â km) WNW of London and 17 miles (27Â km) SSE of the county's administrative town, Aylesbury. Four towns are within five miles: Slough, Amersham, Gerrards Cross and High Wycombe.
The town is adjacent to the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has a wide area of Georgian, neo-Georgian and Tudor revival high street architecture, known as the Old Town. It is celebrated for the first model village in the world and, in education, a direction and technical production institute, the National Film and Television School.
Â§History and description
The parish comprises Beaconsfield town and land mainly given over arable land. Some beech forest remains to supply an established beech furniture industry in High Wycombe, the making of modal and various artisan uses.
Beaconsfield is recorded in property returns of 1185 where it is spelt Bekenesfeld, literally beechen field which would less archaically be read as 'clearing in the beeches'. Nearby Burnham Beeches is a forest named after the beech genus.
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. 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,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 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.
In 1624, Waller's family acquired Wilton Manor and Hall Barn in the town. "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 the former Attorney General. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom famously contested the seat in a by-election in 1982 and lost to Tim Smith, who with Neil Hamilton took part in the cash-for-questions affair which was the financial part of the Major Ministry sleaze uncovered before the United Kingdom general election, 1997.
Beaconsfield 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. 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 here before being elected to Parliament.
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.
Beaconsfield was named 'Britain's richest town' by The Telegraph in 2008. The ranking was based on average house prices, calculated to be Â£684,474 in Beaconsfield. The neighbouring post towns, Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St Peter were next listed. In 2011 the post town had the highest proportion in the UK of Â£1 million-plus homes for sale (at 47%, compared to 3.5% nationally).
Â§Sport and Leisure
- Beaconsfield Cricket Club play at Wilton Park.
- Beaconsfield Holtspur FC play at Wilton Park.
- Beaconsfield Rugby Club play at Oak Lodge Meadow.
- Beaconsfield SYCOB Football Club, a Non-League football club play, at Holloways Park.
The M40 runs very close to the town with its eponymous Junction 2 on the parish boundary and is 4 lanes wide in either direction (junctions 1 to 3). Junction 2 is home to Beaconsfield motorway services. Local roads include the A355 which connects Amersham and Slough via Beaconsfield. The A40 parallels the M40 from London to Oxford and for years was the main road between the two cities as its precursor. 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. The line's trains have decades-settled fast and slow services, the former currently reaching London in around twenty five minutes. It has a car park as a minor park and ride station for mixed-mode commuters far from railway stations who drive towards the capital along the M40, smaller than Didcot Parkway railway station.
- Langres, France, since 1995
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.
- Alfriston School is a special school for girls, with moderate learning difficulties, between the ages of 11 and 18.
- Beaconsfield High School is a high performing grammar school for girls between the ages of 11 and 18.
- The Beaconsfield School has a good performance rating and its sixth form students join together with Beaconsfield High to increase the courses available.
- Butlers Court School - a Key Stage 1 & 2 high performing two form entry Primary School
- Davenies School is a private preparatory day school for boys between ages 4 and 13.
- High March School is a private preparatory day school for girls between the ages of 3 and 12 and boys between the ages of 3 and 5.
- St Mary & All Saints Church of England Primary School is a Key stage 1 & 2 mixed sex school with excellent Ofsted reports
- Darcey Croft (b.1976) Founder of Barenaturals, Sea Shepherd activist and Midwife lives in Beaconsfield
- Enid Blyton (1897 â" 1968) writer, who lived for most of her life in Green HedgesÂ â" 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 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.
- Edmund Burke (1729 â" 1797) statesman and the founder of political conservatism, lived in the Gregories estate just outside Beaconsfield
- G. K. Chesterton (1874 â" 1936) writer, is buried in Beaconsfield
- James Corden (born 1978) actor and TV presenter, lived in Beaconsfield until 2009
- Beverley Craven (born 1963) singer, has lived in Beaconsfield since 2003
- Benjamin Disraeli (1804 â" 1881) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice between 1868 and 1880 was created Earl of Beaconsfield by Queen Victoria in 1876
- Robert Frost (1874 â" 1963) poet, moved to Beaconsfield with his family in 1912
- Barry Gibb (born 1946) singer with the Bee Gees
- Dame Wendy Hiller (1912 â" 2003) actress, moved to Beaconsfield with her husband Ronald Gow in the early 1940s and lived there until her death
- Peter Jones (born 1966) entrepreneur and star of Dragon's Den lives in Beaconsfield with his wife and children
- Albert Ernest Kitson (1868 â" 1937) geologist and naturalist, moved to Beaconsfield in 1930 and died there in 1937
- Anne Main (born 1957) MP for St Albans, Hertfordshire, is from Beaconsfield originally
- Airey Neave (1916 â" 1979) politician, grew up in Beaconsfield
- Sir Gore Ouseley (1770 â" 1844) ambassador, orientalist and High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, died in Beaconsfield
- Swaraj Paul (born 1931) business magnate and philanthropist, lives in Beaconsfield
- Sir Terry Pratchett (1948 â" 2015) writer, was born and brought up in Beaconsfield
- Piers Paul Read (born 1941) novelist and non-fiction author, was born in Beaconsfield
- Peter Rogers (1916 â" 2009) Carry On Films producer, lived for many years in Beaconsfield because of its proximity to Pinewood Studios
- Alison Uttley (1884 â" 1976) writer, moved to Beaconsfield during the Second World War
- Edmund Waller (1606 â" 1687) poet, lived at Hall Barn in Beaconsfield
- Molly Templeton (1989-) Grew up in the town, before achieving fame on YouTube
- Romain Grosjean (born 1986) Formula 1 driver currently driving for Team Lotus.
- Claire TrÃ©vien (born 1985) poet and academic, lives in Beaconsfield.
- Chiltern Shakespeare Company
Â§Notes and references
- Beaconsfield Cricket Club
- The Beaconsfield Society
- Beaconsfield United Reformed Church
- The Enid Blyton Society
- Visit Buckinghamshire
- Enid Blyton Room
- The Young Theatre (at Beaconsfield)
- Chiltern Shakespeare Company
- Beaconsfield Theatre Group
- Beaconsfield Operatic Society