Heritage & History

Chiltern people past and present have given us plenty to be proud of; from opulent mansions of the rich and famous, beautiful villages and hamlets, to the new Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, local culture, quirks and industry of generations are presented in entertaining and memorable ways.

Nuffield Place
The quintessential English country house at Nuffield Place: photo credit Mary Tebje

Choose model villages, vintage trains or iconic cars. The homes and gardens of poets and politicians. Windmills and wildlife. Secret places for revels, rituals or cracking codes. Dip into the rich assortment of Chiltern treasures to find the things that will make your day.

Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve is one of the best examples of ancient woodland in Britain. Famed for its beech and oak pollards – many of which are more than 400 years old – it is also home to a rich variety of fungi, plants and animals.

There has probably been woodland on the site since the retreat of the last ice age, but today’s landscape was created by people.  One of the three Scheduled Ancient Monuments on the reserve shows that the area was inhabited as early as the Iron Age. Today Burnham Beeches is characterised by a diverse mixture of ancient woodland, wood pasture, coppice, ponds and streams, grassland, mire and heathland. The site’s most prominent features are the veteran Beech and Oak pollarded trees which provide a stable habitat for many rare and endangered deadwood species. In Victorian times many of the old trees were given names because of their distinctive shapes; ‘His Majesty” was one of the largest, the ‘Elephant tree’ was like an elephant on its back, the ‘Lace Maker” was where the ladies sat to make lace and the ‘Maiden tree’ was an old tree that had never been pollarded . At over 700 years old, ‘Druid’s Oak” is probably the oldest tree still alive in Burnham Beeches. Oak trees were revered by the Druids but the origins of the name are unclear.  Since then, the Beeches are a popular filming location and such diverse titles as Carry on Camping, Goldfinger, Harry Potter and Midsomer Murders. There are numerous walking and cycling trails that can be accessed here
 
It was a tweet that spurred me into action to get away from my desk and take a walk along Cliveden Reach, between Cookham and Boulter’s locks, the fabled stretch along the River Thames. Cliveden House, an ornate mansion that crowns an outlying Chilterns ridge by the hilltop village of Taplow, near the busy market town of Marlow. 40 metres above the river, Cliveden means “valley among cliffs” and refers to the dene (valley) which cuts through part of the estate, east of the house.  The site has been home to an earl, three countesses, two dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor. And a particular scandal.
 

Interactive Map of the Chilterns

Interactive map featuring a host of things to do and places to visit

CHILTERNSAONB.ORG
© Chilterns Conservation Board - About - Our use of cookies