The Common & Widmer Pond


The Common

Today the common is divided into two distinct areas, known as the Front and Back Commons. The earliest map of 1761 shows no buildings anywhere, with open common half way down Beacon Hill as far as the site of the former beacon. There has since been considerable encroachment. By 1746, the first land on the Front Common had been illegally enclosed and by 1769 a cottage had been built and obtained a licence as a pub, known as The Bell, now called the Old Bell House. The oldest part is the central section. It was a village pub until 1922 when it was converted into a house.

 By 1811 there were buildings on the edge of the common along Elm Road and also opposite St Margaret’s Church in the area of Lost Cottage, Dell Cottage and Truro Cottage. The development was driven by the growth of the Wycombe chair industry. The 50 acre common was owned by absentee landlords, the Dean and Canons of Windsor, who were Lords of the Manor of Bassetsbury. For about 70 years from 1800, illegal enclosure of about 25 acres took place mainly by artisans and agricultural workers. They started by building “mud houses” in or close to the clay pits, soon replacing them by 2 up, 2 down brick & flint cottages. They had an outside privy, no mains water or bathroom and were built for as little as £40, a year’s wages for a working man.

Widmer Pond

Widmer Pond has been a boundary marker since the divide between the Saxon Hundreds of Burnham and Desborough well over 1,000 years ago. "Widmer" probably means "wide pond" in Old English. The pond water was used for washing but not for drinking. It was important to keep the water clean and ducks were definitely not allowed on the water. Drinking water came from roof water collected in underground tanks in every garden and from a spring at Stumpwell off Beacon Hill. A very deep well at Rayners, 340 ft deep, provided water in times of drought. The Victorian pump at Widmer Pond, was installed in memory of Ken Stevens, a long serving Chairman of Chepping Wycombe Parish Council.

Copyright:  Miles Green


 Posted by at 8:08 am

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