Village history – Flackwell Heath timeline
This timeline has been prepared by the Flackwell Local Area History Group. It lists the events which have shaped the village since 1800 and also sets them in the national and international context.
Information about any of the events listed in the Timeline will be welcomed by the Local History Group. We hope you enjoy reading this Timeline and invite comments or corrections. Contact us at email@example.com
References and resources are listed under the Further reading on Flackwell Heath section that follows the timeline at the bottom of this page.
Unlike most English villages which were within one parish complete with a parish church, Flackwell Heath was divided by three parishes: Chepping Wycombe, Little Marlow and Wooburn, with no Parish Church of its own. Over the years this was made more complicated by the development of four distinct hamlets or settlements: Heath End, Flackwell Heath, Sedgmoor and North End Woods.
Given Flackwell Heath was a breezy, heavily wooded area high above the Thames, with poor water supply, settlement was a slow process. It is thought that the first settlers were probably gypsies who based themselves in shelters in the Fairview Lane area. The names associated with this area, Chopstick Alley and Charcoal Bottom would indicate that they sold fire wood and charcoal and possibly some became bargemen. By 1690 Flackwell Heath is a listed name in an Alphabetical Table of places in England and Wales.
The origins of the name Flackwell Heath are also open to speculation. There is mention of a Richard de Flakewell who had a dispute with Prioress Alice at Spade Oak. Another theory comes from flax which thrived on the hill, maybe pronounced as flack and hence the name Flackwell Heath. Another comes from ‘flacking’, an old village word to describe the noise made by clothes in high winds. There are many theories!
Flackwell Heath timeline – key dates in the village’s history
1775 American War of Independence starts
1798 The ‘Buckinghamshire Posse Comitatus Register’ is an important document as it lists the most important occupations in the three parishes which divided Flackwell Heath.
1800 By this time the River Wye was supporting 29 paper mills and employed many Flackwell men and women. Click here for a timeline of the local mills.
1805 Battle of Trafalgar
1810 Reverend St John Priest wrote a description of the importance of cherry picking to residents. See p48 Flackwell Heath The Making of a Chiltern Village.
In 1788 Reverend Mr English’s sermon had described Flackwell Heath as ‘A place of Annual Resort and Festivity during the Cherry season’!
1815 Battle of Waterloo
1820 Glory Paper Mill was taken over by Freeman Gage Spicer. He and his descendants occupied the site until 1850, and then took Lower Glory Mill as well for a few years. The last owners were Messrs Wiggins, Teape & Co Limited before the Mill was closed.
1821 The Parliamentary enclosure commission provides an insight into land ownership in the locality. Much was owned by absentee landlords in the Flackwell Heath locality. See p54 Flackwell Heath The Making of a Chiltern Village
1825 First passenger railway between Darlington and Stockton
1825 Andrew Bryant’s Map of Flackwell Heath shows the three parishes: Chepping Wycombe, Little Marlow and Wooburn. A complicated position creating anomalies, eg the Green Man (where Sainsburys is now) was half in Chepping Wycome and half in Little Marlow!
1830 Wycombe Paper Riots involved Flackwell men, some of the 137 men appearing in a courtyard drama in Aylesbury. These events put the village onto the national scene where the ‘Captain Swing’ attacks on mechanising farming and local industries were carried out by labourers fearing loss of work. Some 50 Flackwell Heath men were involved in machine breaking along the River Wye. Up at the Leathern Bottle in Heath End a trumpet call at crack of dawn gathered the men who made their way down to Loudwater, joining some 400/500 from the Wycombe area headed towards Ash Mill, but when they reached Marsh Green Mill, the Riot Act was read. Eventually the machine breakers were rounded up. See walking map of the Wye mills available at the Flackwell Heath Community Library.
1830 Loudwater Mill, first recorded in the Domesday Book, was now a paper mill and a machine was installed for the production of writing, printing and bag papers. The premises was attacked by the rioters.
1831 A Special Commission for dealing with rioters opened in Aylesbury. 44 prisoners were found guilty of at least one capital offence incurring a death sentence. Eventually sentences were commuted to imprisonment for 15 men, transportation to Van Diemans Land, now Tasmania, for seven years for 26 men, and the transportation for life of two men, although one of these was not transported probably because of ill heath. See folder on the Paper Riots in the local history section in Flackwell Heath Community Library.
1832 Great Reform Act
1832 John Wright owner of the land in what is now the Swains Market area built a room where Wesleyans could meet. This is believed to be the flint sided building situated at the western end of Swains Market. On weekdays the room doubled as a school room charging tuppence a week
1837-1901 Reign of Queen Victoria
1838 Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force
1840s Victorian Flackwell Heath is still not an administrative unit in its own right. It consisted of fields and meadows, orchards and woods with cottages and houses threaded between the original four hamlets.
1846 Repeal of the Corn Laws
1843 The Primitive Methodist Chapel in Chopstick Alley (now Fairview Lane) was opened. It was also used as a Sunday School. The chapel was closed in 1877. It is now a private house called Salva.
1851 The Great Exhibition
1851 Census records the importance of lacemaking for women (and children) to supplement the family income, listing some 70 women and girls in the village as lacemakers. By the 1891 census only a handful of lacemakers were recorded.
1854 A railway line between Maidenhead and Wycombe was opened, with stations at the bottom of Treadaway Hill (Loudwater) and Whitepit Lane (Wooburn Green), bringing jobs and better communications for villagers.
1863 A new Wesleyan chapel was built over the road from Swains Market. It seated one hundred worshippers, the capacity doubling 20 years later.
1868 Last public execution
1870 or 1876 William Jennings opened a Grocer’s, Butcher’s and Baker’s business, carried on by his sons. The original building can still be seen behind the Post Office/stores on Common Road.
1870 Education Act introduces universal education
1875 Edward Royds was a devout Christian and great supporter of the Temperance movement, championed by the Band of Hope – a country wide movement. He persuaded influential people to build a hall for the Band of Hope meetings and to accommodate village functions provided Christian and Temperance values were followed. The foundation stone was laid in 1881. This building is now the Chapel Dental Surgery, Heath End Road.
1876 Flackwell Heath Infants school was opened in the Wesleyan Chapel. This replaced a school in Chopstick Alley (now converted into a house) which had been presided over by local school mistress Ann Smith who taught there at least between 1851 and 1871 and was succeeded by Mrs Sarah Ann Abbott who retired in 1902.
1880 Elementary Education Act introduces compulsory primary education and extends it to girls
1881 The Methodist Sunday School opened opposite the Wesleyan Chapel. This is believed to have been in the old Wesleyan meeting room.
1889 The last cherry orchard was planted. See folder on the Cherry Picking in the local history section in Flackwell Heath Community Library.
1890 A measles epidemic closed Flackwell Heath Infants school from 18 October to 13 December. In September 1901, Headteacher Mrs Sarah Ann Abbott recorded three scholars had died of measles in the summer holidays. There was no inoculation against measles at this time.
1891 Census reveals that 50% of women’s work in Flackwell Heath had shifted to factories.
1892 The 'new' Flackwell Heath Infants School opened (on the site now occupied by the Community Centre), the earlier one being far too small.
1893 Easter Monday Lady Carrington opens Lady Carrington's Recreation Ground (where Carrington School is today), donating 6 acres of Carrington owned land for the purpose.
1893 October 6 The South Bucks Standard reported that 'an ample supply of bright good water is now being continuously pumped into two large tanks provided at convenient centres' in Flackwell Heath. This was made possible 'through the generous help of Mr FT Ford (owner of Snakely Mill) aided by many willing subscribers'. The cost of the tanks and pipes was £116. There was to be a small committee to 'guard against carelessness or abuse as sometimes thwarts the full realisation of the best designed schemes for the public advantage.'
1895 July 12 The South Bucks Standard reported a meeting of the Flackwell Heath Waterworks Committee held at Loudwater School on July 8th. It reported that 'extensive repairs to the pipes rendered necessary by the severe frosts of the winter had been completed and that the water was running freely, and both tanks were well supplied.' Mr George Burnham (overseer of the repairs) reported 'he had collected £18 17s 10 half penny' to cover the costs of repairs. The donors are listed and reference made to the many small donations of villagers. A resolution was made: 'To prevent any future misunderstanding, this committee hereby recognise that the supply of water to Flackwell Heath from Snakely Mill is purely optional on the part of Mr FT Ford, and that the committee have no legal right or other right there to anything on the mill premises in connection therewith.'
On the 19 July Mr Ford wrote to the South Bucks Standard to clarify that he had 'not the slightest intention of with-holding the supply of water, explaining that he was only too glad to 'help many friends and neighbours, by ensuring a good water supply after the frost damage.'
1898 The first records we have of the village Cricket Club. They played non competitive or ‘friendly cricket’ at first. In 1922 Gray Pegler, brother of the famous South African Test bowler, joined the club. He became joint Secretary and Treasurer, a post held for 16 years.
1898 Fords Mill laid on a water system for Flackwell Heath.
1899 June 23 The South Bucks Standard printed a letter from TT Saunders, J Burnham, D Wilks and J Shirley thanking Mr Ford 'for ensuring a free supply of pure fresh water during this dry season.'
1900–01 The old Glory Mill was gutted by fire and had to be reconstructed. The new mill of yellow brick was erected in 1916/7. Over the years the paper mills had provided work and an income for many men and women from Flackwell Heath.
1901–1910 Reign of King Edward VII
1902 Mrs Abbott resigned as Head Mistress of the Infants School. She was replaced by Miss Walpole, who was followed by Mary Payne.
1902 Three High Wycombe men (Peace, Clarke and Thurlow) purchase Minchins Farm at the top of Treadaway Hill with plans to make it into a golf course.
1904 The Flackwell Heath Golf Club (originally called the Wycombe and Bourne End Golf Club) opened with nine holes on the site of Minchins Farm. George Hedley was the first Club Captain and Marjorie Redington, from High Wycombe, was the first Captain/Honorary Secretary of the ladies' section. Originally it was a Proprietors Club and Lord Carrington was its Inaugural President. Nine further holes were added in 1907. In 1908 A Ladies' Committee was formed and the new Club House was opened. When the club was sold to its members in 1920 George Hedley became the new President.
1907 Flackwell Heath Football Club was established and joined The High Wycombe and District League, becoming affiliated to Berks and Bucks FA. They had a brilliant season 1929-30 and games continued to attract large audiences until WW2 when many went to serve in the forces. The team played on what we now call the recreation ground but during these early years it was Smith's cow field. After the war the club moved to Wilks Park, on land donated by Arthur Wilks, which currently has a capacity of 2,000 of which 150 are seated.
1910–1936 Reign of George V
1910 The Flackwell Ladies made a laurel Leaf wreath in memory of Edward VII.
1910 A water tower was built at the top of Juniper Lane next to what is now Mitzi's the hairdressers. This was to improve the water supply in the village (a long time problem for this hilltop village) but standpipes were still being used in the 1920s.
1910 The Wilks brothers established a grocery business in the village. This is believed to have been in the building that was once the Wesleyan meeting room in Swains Market. The shop later moved to the location where Costa Coffee is now situated.
1911 On June 22 the village celebrations for the Coronation of George V included a bonfire. See photo RHW:49854 on the SWOP website
The Great War 1914-18
1915 Many children skipped school to see the biplane that landed on King’s Mead
1917 Village children collected 240 pounds of blackberries for Army and Navy jam, an amount they exceeded in 1918.
1918 Right to vote given to all men over 21 and to women over 30 who owned property
1921 A war memorial, designed by Thomas Thurlow who was a joint owner of the Golf Club, was unveiled by Lord Carrington. Fifty men from the locality were named, including Lord Carrington’s son. A Memorial Hall on Carrington land had already been built. Five more names were added to the war memorial in 2016. See www.galaxypix.com/Sally/warmemorials/ (also available as hard copy)
See SWOP for photos of the unveiling of the War Memorial, The Flackwell Heath Silver Band (who played on the day) and Villagers at the Memorial Stone. SWOP RHW 49786, 49805, 49796
1923 A ‘schoolroom’ was added to the Methodist Chapel. It was used not only as a Sunday School, but for bible classes, the Scouts and other lettings.
1926 The General Strike
1926 The first Flackwell Heath Women’s Institute was opened and held meetings in the Temperance Hall.
1926 A branch of the Royal British Legion was established.
1928 Women over 21 given the vote
1930s The local authority takes an interest in the village: The first water was pumped to the village which had previously depended on Ford's Mill, ponds, springs and rainwater for fresh water, and cess pits for sewerage. Electricity was brought to the village by overhead cables in the early 1930s too.
1931 A youth hostel, ‘Woodspring’ was opened in Mrs Williams orchard on the site of Beckings Way. It closed in 1941 and never opened again as a youth hostel.
1932 The Wesleyan Chapel becomes the Methodist Church.
1932 The forerunner of the present Christ Church was built with money raised by public subscription. It was a small wooden structure with a brick frontage seating some 50 people. It was consecrated by the then Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Eliot.
1936 The Jarrow March
1936–1952 Reign of George VI
1937 On May 12th village celebrations for the Coronation of King George VI included a bonfire. See photo RHW: 49854 on the SWOP website.
World War II 1939–45
At the outbreak of the war, change came to Flackwell Heath which had altered very little over the years. The Council plans to build council homes in the fields known as Grubbins' Cowfield were interrupted by the war. But a Hostel was built to give working men, including some refugees, a place to live by the Government whilst engaged in priority work in the area. The Hostel was demolished in the late 1960s early 1970s.
1939 The outbreak of war saw preparations in the village to receive evacuees from London. (Most came from West London.)
1939 Major Baker who lived in Magpie Cottage was the Company Commander of the Local Home Guard. He also worked for the BBC and had been instructed to rig up an operational radio base at his cottage where he heard that the Germans had invaded Poland and therefore peace was at an end.
1940 A volunteer Fire Brigade Unit was formed.
1941 Almost two thirds of the infants in school were evacuees. This declined as many returned to their homes. However Flackwell was not immune from air raid warnings.
1942 The Flackwell Home Guard platoon became a part of the newly created ‘C’ Company, 4th Bucks Battalion Home Guard. The White House in Heath End was the home of General Sir Frederick Pile who was in charge of Anti-Aircraft Command from 1939-45. A Guard Room for the Home Guard was provided by Mr E Gomme on Links Road.
1943 Villagers raised £630 for ‘Wings for Victory’ week by holding a concert in the Infants School.
c.1945 The building of the Council Estate resumed giving homes to families from the local area and beyond. Oakland Way and possibly Buckingham Way were built by German Prisoners of War.
1948 NHS introduced
1950 Demolition of the Village Memorial Hall which was built after the first World War and used as a school for evacuees from London during WW2.
1951 Festival of Britain
1952 August 22 The Bucks Herald published a request for Public Works Contractors, who were members of the Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors, to tender for work in Flackwell Heath. The contract was to provide 4,500 square yards of pitched road construction, foul sewers ejector station and pumping mains surface water system and incidental works.
1950s A new water tower was built between what is now George’s Drive and Green Crescent.
1953 Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation
1955 Mr Arthur Wilks, a keen football supporter, donated his land originally called Beasley’s Paddock to create Wilks Park, under his trusteeship.
1957 Flackwell Heath Evening WI opened.
Late 1950s The council houses in Rugwood Road were built at the Heath End end of the village. This land had been farmed by the landlord of The Stag pub but both wood and farmland went under the developer’s bulldozer. The field by the new water tower at Northern Woods was developed providing new homes on what was to become Philip Drive and Green Crescent. Originally this estate was called White Gates Estate.
1959 The present Anglian Church, Christ Church, was built on the site in Chapel Road replacing an earlier wooden building, but retaining the old brick facade.
1961 A stained glass rose window was put into the brick frontage of Christ Church. Although some think it was designed by John Piper, it is more likely the work of local artist Patrick Reyntiens, designed in his studio at his house in Heath End Road and probably constructed and assembled in his workshops at Burleighfield House, Loudwater.
1961 Yuri Gagarin the first man in space
1961 Flackwell Heath County Primary School was opened (now Carrington Primary School).
1961 Nine houses built in Strathcona Way.
1962 Twenty four houses built in Cherrywood Gardens.
1963–4 Eighteen new houses built in River View (a very bad winter delayed the work.) Seven houses built in Sedgmoor Road next to River View.
1964 Three houses built in Chapel Road, opposite the Library.
1965 An infant school was built on the Carrington School site.
1965 Nine houses built in Chilterns Close.
Mid 1960s Building of Churchill Close housing estate commenced.
1967 Twenty four houses built in The Meadows.
1967 Twenty five houses (bungalows) built in Beckings Way by Hawtree Estates.
1968 Juniper Hill County Primary, at the Northern Woods end of the village, was opened.
1968 Flackwell Heath Ladies’ Club opened.
1969 The M40 motorway between London and Oxford was constructed in stages between 1967 and 1974. The section which most effected the village, that between the junctions for Wycombe East and Wycombe Central, opened in 1969. This necessitated the loss of parts of Fennels Wood, which saddened many villagers. However the building of the road from Daws Hill Lane over the motorway to connect with Heath End Road, provided a direct link to Wycombe for villagers.
1969 Pembroke County Secondary School was built at Heath End. This is now The Wycombe Campus of The Buckinghamshire College Group, specialising in Construction Skills.
1969 Sixteen houses built in Woodside.
1970 Thirty two houses built in The Fairway.
1971 Decimal coinage introduced
1972 Forty three houses built in The Orchards estate.
1972/73 Building of Oakwood council estate on land formerly used as a hostel.
1973 UK joined the EU
1974 Seven houses built in Blind Lane by the old pond.
c.1974 Victorian school building demolished in preparation for new community centre.
1976 Thirty seven houses built in Woodside Avenue.
1977 New Community Centre opened.
1977 Queen’s Silver Jubilee
1984 An extended and refurbished Methodist Church was reopened with a special dedication.
1992 Flackwell Heath Morning WI opened.
1993 Christ Church became a separate Ecclesiastical Parish.
1994 Channel Tunnel opened
1999 The Parochial Church Council agreed to the building of a new Church Centre for Christ Church. The local community contributed over £500,000 and the new Church Centre was opened in 2002.
2000 The Millennium celebrations included the preparation of reminiscences by residents about their life in the village. Some had been born in the village, others moved here in the post-war years. These reminiscences are available in the library.
2000-2020 We are now researching the last 20 years and would welcome input from villagers who can tell us when their house was built, what shops opened, and closed, what clubs were formed etc.
Further reading on Flackwell Heath
Flackwell Heath Library holds many resources gathered by the Flackwell Local Area History Group which expand on this simple timeline.
References available in Flackwell Heath Community Library
Flackwell Heath – The Making of a Chiltern village: Gwenda Grange
Flackwell Heath Now and Then: Reg Wilks
The First 100 Years of Flackwell Heath Golf Club: Margaret Anderton
Life Down Under: Tony Hines (story of those convicted in the Machine Riots)
Flackwell Heath and Loudwater wills (Local History section)
How Swing riots affected Flackwell families
Flackwell Folk (see also Online Resources for website address)
Loudwater Lea (see also Online Resources for website address)
Available from Bucks Library
The Watermills of Buckinghamshire: A 1930s account by Stanley Freese. Edited by Michael Farley, Edward Legg and James Venn with a contribution by Martin Watts (2007)
SWOP Photo collection (swop.org.uk)
Buckinghamshire Record Society (bucksrecsoc.org.uk)
Centre for Bucks Studies (buckscc.gov.uk follow links to ‘Collections’)
Christ Church History (ccfh.org.uk)
Flackwell folk: www.galaxypix.com/Sally/Flackwellfolk/ (also available as hard copy)
Loudwater lea: www.galaxypix.com/Sally/Loudwaterlea/ (also available as hard copy)