This is Wendover, a small rather well to do town with just enough of a cluster of old things to look at to make a visit worthwhile.
It’s said that there are over a hundred listed buildings in Wendover, which considering the size of the town probably makes it the most densely populated patch of listings in the country. A lot of that can be down to the wealth of the area that not only built decent homes, but then maintained them long enough for the listings man to come along and wrap them up in protective red tape.
Despite its modest size, there’s quite a lot to see here, and as it’s surrounded by countryside with long walks, you can soak up a day trip locally.
Getting to Wendover by train drops you just on the edge of town in a rather modern looking station with the remnants of the original footbridge sealed off and slowly rusting away.
The town centre is packed full of independent stores, and just two familiar brand names – Budgens and hidden away is an almost invisible branch of Costa. This is a town mainly of cafes, fashionable boutiques and lots of antiques.
The centre of town is also known as the Manor Waste, land given by the former Lord of the Manor to the parish council for se as an open market and fair, dating all the way back to 1214.
Some of the prettiest cottages are on the main road, Pound Street, named after an animal pen that was used on market days. The homes are still managed by a modern charity.
The Clock Tower
One of the most distinctive not-an-old-home buildings in the town is the old clock tower.
Built originally as a market hall and jail in 1842, it gained the tower, and clock in 1870. It also used to house the local fire engine until 1884 — which must have been very small, as the building is quite modest in size. Today it’s the lock council office, and a small museum — which is closed at weekends.
Next to it is the old School House, which is today a) a private home and b) surrounded by high walls.
Path to St Mary’s Church
Next to the old school is a long alley that leads to an old church on the edge of town, and the path is itself unexpectedly delightful to walk along. It swiftly opens up to run along fields, and also a shallow stream that backs onto some wealthy homes.
One of the fields is newly planted as a memorial orchard on the anniversary of WW1. A total of 59 local people died during the war, and there’s a very grand stone memorial in the town centre, but this living memorial will, eventually look rather nicer.
A heron pond is further up is two old ponds that were enlarged to provide water for the local canal, and finally, the church.
St Mary’s Church
This is what you might consider a typical parish church of a modestly wealthy town – a solidly decent stone building with a tower, a huge graveyard, plenty of very old trees, and a fantastic Lychgate.
The current church is around 700 years old, although extensively restored twice during Victorian times, and once at the end of WW1. A more recent change inside has rather nicely used lighting to highlight the space more decoratively than is usual, even if it does in places end up looking oddly like a posh hotel, especially with the under lighting around the altar.
The Old Windmill
Said to have been the largest windmill in England, this was built at the end of the 18th century. Its sails were removed in 1904, and it’s now a private home.
Another batch of old cottages, but these once belonged to Henry VIII when he held the title of Lord of the Manor. They were bestowed to his wives, of which there were many, but they are still known as the Anne Boleyn Cottages.
St Annes Roman Catholic Church
A small modern church dating from the 1960s, the doors were open for cleaning up after a service, so a quick query was confirmed that you can take photos. It’s a pleasant little building, with very 1960s steps and railings leading up to it.
The Twinning Stone
Easy to miss unless you spot a sign for the public toilets and are in need of them, for down this side road is the library, the toilets (staff toilets in the library) and the Twinning Stone.
Rather lovely, two stones combined in 1992 to mark the twinning of Wendover with Liffre in 1976.
There are lots of places to choose from, but if you love cheese, then No2 Pound Street is a cheese heaven and walking in you get hit by the strong aromas of ripe cheeses. Sandwiches, fresh made and wrapped in old fashioned greaseproof paper, and wine are offered in this local delicatessen.
Wendover is a short trip up on the Chiltern Railway, about 45 minutes from London Marylebone to Wendover station.