Curiosities in the Chilterns

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A fast-moving circular tour of the Chilterns looking at the odd, rare and unusual aspects of life many years ago starting and finishing in Reading, Berkshire.

Part One looks at the city of Reading before moving east towards Maidenhead, Cookham and Windsor and then north via Amersham and Berkhamsted right in to the mid-Chilterns countryside returning through Wendover, Thame and Beaconsfield finishing with the area around High Wycombe.

"Summer is a'coming in"  -  The first pop song ever was written by the monks in Reading Abbey way back in 1240.  If only they had known what it would lead to !

Is some-one making fun  out of our English Heritage plates ?

Seen on a house in Zinzan Street(now removed)

Reading Abbey


A very rare Victorian Pillar box in the High Street.

Designed by a guy called William Penfold, it would have been cast around 1860.

"The Church's One Foundation"  -  composed by famous hymnwriter S J Stone while he was living in Western Cottage.



Probably the most bizarre curiosity in the Chilterns, the Earl Howe figurehead stands just outside The Lea.

What a Liberty ! !

A very colourful front gate to a timber framed cottage in Winslow.  I believe the owner was a bit of a character although not everybody shared his artistic and flashy sense of decoration.

The Lee


A little village drinking fountain erected in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubillee

".....60 years of the reign of her most gracious majesty".

This totem pole, on the banks of the Grand Union canal, was a gift from Canada to celebrate a very productive and profitable order to export redwood to the wood yard in town.

White Waltham


The bell tower at the Church is topped with a hollow gold-leafed globe capable of accommodating a small party.

Hell Fire ! ! !

The tithing stone  -  erected by a local farmer to mark an important decision made by the Court of Appeal in May 1827.

He wanted to make sure that other farmers would not be incorrectly sued

West Wycombe


Part Two starts in Marlow and looks at the Fawley and Hambleden areas on the way to Henley-on-Thames from where we go, by way of Watlington and Ewelme up to Headington just outside Oxford returning to Reading via Warborough, Ipsden, Stoke Row and the countryside around Pangbourne.

These Hatfield stones date back to the days of toll roads and the Cecil family of Hatfield House.

They were used to mark what was known as the ”Gout Track”.   

A very pretty memorial for Charles Frohman who lost his life in the sinking of ss Lusitania in 1915.

The young lady was a member of his Marlow drama school and had played Peter Pan.



Most unusual patterned wall made up from old wallpaper pattern printing blocks

Do we have to lower the tone?

An unfortunate modern sign which could have been worded slightly differently.


Lane End

The Maharajah's Well  -  a gift to the villagers from the Maharajah of Benares so that they could have fresh water. Installed in 1863, it is a classic curiosity.

Do we assume this man does not welcome visitors to his mansion at Friar Park?   

Now removed, this was erected by the late George Harrison in his bid for privacy.

Stoke Row


It's not raining cats and dogs - more like monster sharks.

This loft extension has been up on the roof for 30 years and has recently been refurbished.

This model fort reminds us that the US Army were stationed here in the last war.

The camp was later used to house Polish refugees.


Highmoor Woods

This cairn recalls the International Ploughing Match which took place in October1956.       

Unveiled by HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

Dating back to 1833, this shop front reminds us that Mr Kitchen was the town's Tallow Chandler.

With no gas or electricity, houses would rely on candle power for light at night.



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