High Wycombe (city), Buckinghamshire Genealogy

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Guide to High Wycombe history, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

High Wycombe Guildhall.JPG

History[edit | edit source]

High Wycombe coat of arms
High Wycombe location in England
Flag of the county of Buckinghamshire

High Wycombe, often referred to as Wycombe is a large town in Buckinghamshire, England. It is 29 miles (47 km) west north west of Charing Cross in London; this information is also engraved on the Corn Market building in the center of the town.

The name Wycombe appears to come from the river Wye and the old English word for a wooded valley, combe, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary of Place-Names the name, which was first recorded in 799-802 as 'Wichama', is more likely to be Old English 'wic' and the plural of Old English 'ham', and probably means 'dwellings'; the name of the river was a late back-formation. Wycombe appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 and was noted for having six mills. The town once featured a Roman villa (built 150–170 AD) which has been excavated three times, most recently in 1954. Mosaics and a bathhouse were unearthed at the site on what is now the Rye parkland. High Wycombe was the home of 19th-century Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

The existence of a settlement at High Wycombe was first documented as 'Wicumun' in 970. The parish church was consecrated by Wulfstan, the visiting Bishop of Worcester, in 1086. The town received market borough status in 1222, and built its first moot hall in 1226, with a market hall being built later in 1476.

High Wycombe remained a mill town through Medieval and Tudor times, manufacturing lace and linen cloth. It was also a stopping point on the way from Oxford to London, with many travellers staying in the town's taverns and inns.

The paper industry was notable in 17th and 18th century High Wycombe. The Wye's waters were rich in chalk, and therefore ideal for bleaching pulp. The paper industry was soon overtaken by the cloth industry.

Wycombe's most famous industry, furniture (particularly Windsor chairs) took hold in the 19th century, with furniture factories setting up all over the town. Many terraced workers' houses were built to the east and west of town to accommodate those working in the furniture factories. In 1875, it was estimated that there were 4,700 chairs made per day in High Wycombe. When Queen Victoria visited the town in 1877, the council organized an arch of chairs to be erected over the High Street, with the words "Long live the Queen" printed boldly across the arch for the Queen to pass under. Wycombe Museum includes many examples of locally made chairs and information on the local furniture and lace industries.

The town's population grew from 13,000 residents in 1881 to 29,000 in 1928. Wycombe was completely dominated socially and economically by the furniture industry and, consequently, there was considerable unemployment and social problems when the industry declined in the 1960s.

By the 1920s, many of the housing areas of Wycombe had decayed into slums. A slum clearance scheme was initiated by the council in 1932, whereby many areas were completely demolished and the residents rehoused in new estates that sprawled above the town on the valley slopes. Some of the districts demolished were truly decrepit, such as Newland, where most of the houses were condemned as unfit for human habitation, with sewage pouring down the street and people sharing one room in cramped quarters of subdivided flats. However, some areas such as St. Mary's Street contained beautiful old buildings with fine examples of 18th and 19th century architecture.

From 1940 to 1968 High Wycombe was the seat of the RAF Bomber Command. Moreover, during the Second World War, from May 1942 to July 1945, the U.S. Army Air Force's 8th Air Force Bomber Command, codenamed "Pinetree", was based at a former girls' school at High Wycombe. This formally became Headquarters, 8th Air Force, on 22 February 1944.

Although situated in the county of Buckinghamshire, which is one of the most affluent parts of the country, Wycombe contains some considerably deprived areas. In 2007, a GMB Union survey ranked the Wycombe district as the 4th dirtiest in the South East and the 26th dirtiest in the whole UK.

The town has recently undergone major redevelopment, including development of the town's existing shopping center, completion of the new Eden Shopping center, and redevelopment of the Buckinghamshire New University with a large student village and new building on Queen Alexandra Road. These developments prompted the building of larger blocks of flats, a new multimillion-pound hotel in the center, and a new Sainsbury's store on the Oxford road next to the Eden shopping center and bus station.[1]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

High Wycombe Cemetery
Hamilton Rd
High Wycombe HP13 5BH

Four Ashes Garden of Rest
Four Ashes Road
High Cryers Hill
High Wycombe HP15 6JY
Phone: +44 1494 715296

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parishes[edit | edit source]

All Saints
Church address:
Church Square
High Wycombe HP11 2BN
Phone: +44 1494 520857

All Saints Parish Church
Church address:
8 Castle St
High Wycombe HP13 6RF
Phone: +44 1494 527526

St Anne's and St Peter's
Church address:
The Vicarage
Micklefield Rd
High Wycombe HP13 7HU
Phone: +44 1494 520323

St Peter's
Church address:
Treadaway Hill
Loudwater HP10 9QL
Phone: +44 1628 526087

St Paul's
Church address:
3 High St
West Wycombe
High Wycombe HP14 3AE
Phone: +44 1494 529988

St Francis of Assisi
Church address:
Amersham Rd
High Wycombe HP13 5AB
Phone: +44 1494 520676

St James
Church address:
Just off the top of Plomer Hill
Downley, HP13 5NB
Phone: +44 1494 465608

Non Conformists[edit | edit source]

Other Christian and non-christian groups follow:

  • Baptist
  • Cherith Christian Fellowship
  • Christ Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • First Church of Christ Scientist
  • Jehovah's Witness
  • Methodist
  • Presbyterian
  • Roman Catholic
  • Wycombe Community Church

Non Christian groups that meet regularly in Bournemouth include:

  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Jewish
  • Muslim
  • Sikh

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the UK government, from July 1837 to the present day.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

High Wycombe is still primarily a bedroom city for the capital city, London. More than 60% of the population make the daily commute into the city center.

More recent industries in the town include the production of paper, precision instruments, clothing and plastics. Many of these are situated in an industrial area of the Cressex district, southwest of the town center. The two largest sites belong to the companies Swan (tobacco papers, filters and matches) and Verco (office furniture).

Recently there has been an influx of new opportunities in the electronics arena, as well as custom products for personal grooming. Such companies as 5G Communications (electronics),SCTM Electronics, Johnson and Johnson (regional sales and distribution), The Perfume Shop, Edgewell Personal Care, Focusrite, and Atech Support, have all established either UK National, or Regional, offices in High Wycombe, providing opportunities for electronics engineers, chemists and technicians, and marketing personnel.[2]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "High Wycombe," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High Wycombe, accessed 11 April, 2018.
  2. https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Reviews/high-wycombe-reviews-SRCH_IL.0,12_IC2681375_IP2.htm, accessed 12 April, 2018.