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Things to do in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire

Princes Risborough lies in the lee of the Chiltern Hills, mid-way between Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire's County Town, and High Wycombe, the County's largest town. It is approximately 35 miles north west of London and 25 south east of Oxford. This is an ideal jumping-off place from which to explore the Chiltern Hills, which form a glorious backdrop to the town.

The majority of England's market towns are at least as old as Doomsday - and Princes Risborough is no exception. That there was a settlement of some sort here even earlier is indicated by the recorded ownership of the manor by Earl Harold - the last Saxon King, doomed to die in Hastings in 1066. The oldest part of the town lies around the parish church of St. Mary. The church is a handsome building of flint and stone, originally of the 13th century, but with Tudor additions and alterations. The steeple, which dominates the town, is a modern addition and carries two bells. Next to the church, the 17th century manor house is a mellow brick building which was given to The National Trust in 1925 by the widow and family of the Hon. Charles Rothschild. Inside there is a magnificent Jacobean staircase with pierced scroll-work, and a great deal of excellent 18th century panelling.

Leading away from the church and Manor House, the little streets of 17th and 18th century cottages, many of them half-timbered, open out into the Market Square, where weekly markets and annual fairs are held.

The tiny hamlet of Whiteleaf, with its thatched cottages, pretty gardens and welcoming old inn lies on the route of the Upper Icknield Way, a prehistoric track way which follows the chalk downs of the Chilterns. Towering above the hamlet and visible up to 30 miles away is a gigantic cross cut into the chalk hillside. It is 80ft long, 72ft across and stands on a triangular base measuring 340ft across. The purpose of Whiteleaf Cross is unclear but it is worth noting that the cut cross itself is exactly the same size as a similar figure above Bledlow and that, perhaps, these two landmarks were carved as a pair to mark the Risborough valley gap and a dry and safe trade route to the River Thames and London. Interestingly the earliest reference to Whiteleaf Cross is from 1742. On the hill alongside the cross are the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds which indicate the long history of this area. There are miles of way-marked paths through the woods, radiating from the Car Park near the Cross, and from the top of the Cross there are panoramic views out across the Vale of Aylesbury.

The windmill at Lacy Green is a very prominent landmark, high on the hills to the south. It is one of the oldest smock mills in the country (1650) and has recently been restored to full working order by volunteers from the Chiltern Society. Nearby is an interestingly named pub, The Pink and Lily, once a favourite haunt of the First World War poet, Rupert Brook and his friends.

A few miles North of Princes Risborough is Chiltern Brewery, where visitors can see brewing rooms from the yard, visit the small brewery museum and inspect its unique licensed shop. You can take a trip on the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway. The Icknield Line, Chinnor Station, a few miles to the West of Princes Risborough (B4009).

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Chiltern trains connect Princes Risborough to London Marylebone or north to Banbury, Leamington Spa and Birmingham. Additionally there is a local service to Aylesbury. There is a bus service from the centre of the town to Aylesbury and High Wycombe, For further information please telephone Buckinghamshire Travel Line (0345) 382 000. (From within the UK only). Princes Risborough is easily accessible from London or the Midlands via the M40, J6. Oxford is also within easy reach.

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