1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wycombe

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WYCOMBE (officially Chepping Wycombe, also Chipping or High Wycombe), a market town and municipal borough in the Wycombe parliamentary division of Buckinghamshire, England, 34 m. W. by N. of London by the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901) 15,542. The church of All Saints, originally of Norman foundation, was rebuilt in 1273 by the abbess and nuns of Godstow near Oxford, and was largely reconstructed early in the 15th century. For the grammar school, founded c. 1550 by the mayor and burgesses, a new building was erected in 1883. There are remains of a Norman hospital of St John the Baptist, consisting of arches of the chapel. The market-house and guildhall was erected in 1757. The family of Petty, with whom the town has long been connected, occupied the mansion called Wycombe Abbey. Lord Beaconsfield's mansion of Hughenden is 1½ m. N. of the town. Among a number of almshouses are some bearing the name of Queen Elizabeth, endowed in 1562 out of the revenues of a dissolved fraternity of St Mary. The principal industry is chair-making, and there are also flour and paper mills. The borough is under a mayor, 8 aldermen and 24 councillors. Area, 1734 acres. The burgesses of Wycombe have ancient rights of common pasturage on the neighbouring Rye Mead.

There are various British remains in the neighbourhood of Chipping Wycombe (Wicumbe, Wycumbee, Cheping Wycombe, Cheping Wichham), but the traces of a Roman settlement are more important. In Domesday Book the manor only is mentioned, but in 1199 the men of Wycombe paid tallage to the king. In 1225–1226 Alan Basset granted to the burgesses the whole town as a free borough. This grant was confirmed by Henry III., Edward I., Henry IV. and Mary. In 1558, however, a new charter of incorporation was granted in reward for the loyalty shown to Queen Mary. It was confirmed by Elizabeth in 1598 and by James I. in 1609 with certain additions. Cromwell granted another charter, but it was burnt after the Restoration, and the last charter was granted by Charles II. in 1663. The corporation was remodelled under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, and now consists of a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Wycombe returned two burgesses to parliament in 1300 and continued to send members until 1885. The franchise was enlarged after 1832, and in 1867 the borough was deprived of one of its members. A market was granted by Basset to the burgesses in 1226, and at the present day it is held every Friday, the day fixed by the charter of Queen Mary. Two statutory fairs were held under the charter of 1558, but in 1792 only one fair was held on the Monday before Michaelmas for hiring, but there is now a pleasure fair on the same day.

See John Parker, History and Antiquities of Wycombe (1878).