18 May, 2008

Aylesbury and Great Missenden - in the heart of the Chilterns

Aylesbury is where the Civil War became more than a gleam in its mother's eye. John Hampden who lived just outside at Stoke Mandeville was assessed for ship money and refused to pay, therefore starting the process that led to several churches called King Charles the Martyr, although none in Aylesbury. Aylesbury is also the county town of Buckinghamshire and is Rothschild country. There were two clubs presented by Rothschilds, the Victoria club which commemorates the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria given by Baron Rothschild) and the Aylesbury Literary Club with its foundation Stone laid by Lady Rothschild. I had lunch in Carlos's Restaurant in the Literary club. I can recommend the restaurant for its decoration, the ceiling is painted with mermaids which contrast with the oak panelled club room. The atmosphere is unique and - Hallelujah!- food can be obtained before 1200 on a Sunday. It seems like the provincial disease has not contaminated Aylesbury. The club is the middle picture.
I could not spend much time in the church as there was either a rehearsal or concert ongoing but it looked pleasant enough with a light interior. It has a curious spire resting on a smaller tower. The church stands in the middle of the maedieval town of narrow lanes and small squares. There are almshouses near the church. Thomas Hickman's charity seems to povide most of the housing nearby.
The Buckinghamshire County Museum is also near the church.
Great Missenden was until fairly recently the home of noted children's author Roald Dahl. The church is rather outside the village but has good examples of art from all ages including this, in particular a glass screen in one of the side chapels. They also serve teas in the summer months, although I did not have any. Missenden Abbey is now an adult education establishment and the village is pleasant, although a bit stuck in aspic. The bottom picture shows the abbey farm house.
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