Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards Parish
Where are we?
Cholesbury-cum-St Leonard’s is a rural community in the Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire, England. The civil parish was formed on 1st April 1934 and comprises four much older villages.
Buckland Common, had previously been part of Buckland Parish, Cholesbury had been linked to Drayton Beauchamp, Hawridge had been long associated with Marsworth and St Leonards similarly linked with Aston Clinton. These villages together with the outlying areas of Braziers End, Coppice Farm Park, Heath End, Lanes End and The Vale make up our parish.
These villages can be found to the north-west of Chesham stretching 4.5 miles along a ridge, and rising to over 230 metres within the Chiltern Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is bounded to the north by the prehistoric Grim’s Ditch and to the west by the county border with Hertfordshire. There is evidence of prehistoric settlements and the area is mentioned in 8th century records.
One or two facts about our Parish
There are some 400 households home to around 950 inhabitants, of whom 20% are aged under 16 and another 20% are over retirement age. There is no shop or post office locally so people must visit nearby towns for their provisions. Cars are owned by over 90% of households, and there is an infrequent bus service to Chesham.
Changes in the local economy
The 20th Century unlike any other which has preceded it has seen the most dramatic change in the rural economy of this part of Britain. Now only two large working farms remain. Most agricultural land has been divided up, usually to keep horses or sheep but alongside the many chickens and ducks a few cattle, and even alpacas and ostriches can also be found.
These days there are relatively few people still employed within the villages, although there is a blacksmith, a farrier, livery yards, dog boarding kennels, a car repair business, and an agricultural engineers.
The majority of people in employment now commute to surrounding towns or the 35 or so miles to London, and there is a growing trend for home-based workers who exploit the benefits of technology to connect with the outside world.
What community activities take place in the parish?
Local people can come together through a variety of community pastimes and activities. There are three churches and four pubs. Football is played at St Leonards, and Hawridge and Cholesbury Cricket Club have their pitch and pavilion on Cholesbury Common. There is also a playgroup, a nursery and a Sunday school. Two halls in the parish provide the focus for the Local History Group, Women’s Institute, Horticultural Society, Senior and Thursday Clubs, not forgetting ‘fund-raising’ Cream Teas and the Christmas parties for younger and older inhabitants.
During the summer months two fêtes take place, one on St Leonards playing field, the other alternating between Hawridge and Cholesbury Commons, the partly wooded heathland stretching more than a mile along the ridge, which is looked after, on behalf of the Lord of the Manor, by the Commons Preservation Society.
There are 61 footpaths in the parish which are enjoyed by walkers, often with dogs. The beauty and relative peace of the villages also attract cyclists and horse riders.
What concerns local people?
However, a survey of local people has also revealed concerns that this same tranquillity is being increasingly threatened by fast cars, aircraft noise and encroaching ‘suburbanisation’.
More information is available in the Wikipedia articles for Cholesbury, Hawridge, Buckland Common, and St Leonards.
The Parish Council website
The Hawridge and Cholesbury Commons Preservation Society (HCCPS)
The New Grapevine – our local email list
The Cholesbury Village Hall website
The St Leonards Parish Hall website
Hawridge and Cholesbury Cricket Club
The Lee village website