Beaconsfield (/ˈbɛkənzfld/ (listen) BEK-ənz-feeld) is a market town and civil parish in the South Bucks district of Buckinghamshire, England, 23.4 miles (38 km) WNW of central London and 16.0 miles (26 km) SSE of Aylesbury. Three towns are within five miles: Gerrards Cross, Amersham and High Wycombe.


Memorial Green, the Old Town, Beaconsfield
Location within Buckinghamshire
Area19.66 km2 (7.59 sq mi)
Population12,081 (2011 census)[1]
 Density614/km2 (1,590/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSU9490
Civil parish
  • Beaconsfield
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBeaconsfield
Postcode districtHP9
Dialling code01494
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament

The town is adjacent to the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has a wide area of Georgian, neo-Georgian and Tudor revival high street architecture, known as the Old Town. It is known for the first model village in the world and the National Film and Television School.

History and description

The parish comprises Beaconsfield town and land mainly given over arable land. Some beech forest remains to supply an established beech furniture industry in High Wycombe, the making of modal and various artisan uses.

Beaconsfield is recorded in property returns of 1185 where it is spelt Bekenesfeld, literally beechen field which would less archaically be read as 'clearing in the beeches'.[2] Nearby Burnham Beeches is a forest named after the beech genus.

The parish church at the crossroads of Old Beaconsfield is dedicated to St Mary, it was rebuilt of flint and bath stone by the Victorians in 1869. The United Reformed Church in Beaconsfield can trace its roots of non-conformist worship in the town back to 1704.[3] Old Beaconsfield has a number of old coaching inns along a wide street of red brick houses and small shops. It was the first (coach) stopping point on the road between London and Oxford, as it is equidistant between the two places.

An annual fair is traditionally held on 10 May. The population in 1841 was 1,732.[4]

In the Victorian era the town was the home constituency of Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1868 and then again from 1874 until 1880 (in fact his home, Hughenden Manor is in the nearby town of High Wycombe). In 1876 he was made the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield by Queen Victoria with whom he was very popular. It was due to this, that Beaconsfield became a popular road name in industrial cities across the country in the late Victorian era.

It is the burial place of the author G. K. Chesterton, Edmund Burke and the poet Edmund Waller, for whom a tall stone obelisk was erected over the tomb chest in St Mary and All Saints churchyard.[5]

In 1624, Waller's family acquired Wilton Manor and Hall Barn in the town.[2] "The Wallers, who came from Speldhurst, Kent," says the Victoria County history of Buckinghamshire, "were settled at Beaconsfield as early as the 14th century."

Dominic Grieve is the Member of Parliament for Beaconsfield, first elected in 1997, and the former Attorney General. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom famously contested the seat in a by-election in 1982 and lost to Tim Smith, who with Neil Hamilton took part in the cash-for-questions affair which was the financial part of the Major ministry sleaze uncovered before the 1997 United Kingdom general election.[6]

Beaconsfield is the home of Bekonscot model village, which was the first model village in the world; and Beaconsfield Film Studios becoming the National Film and Television School, where many film directors and technicians have learned their craft. It is the birthplace of Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series of fantasy novels. Several scenes in Brief Encounter, a classic film about a woman in a dull middle class marriage who almost undertakes an affair, were filmed in the town: Station Parade served as Milford High Street and Boots on Burke's Parade was where Alec runs into Laura.[7] The exterior of the Royal Saracens Head Inn can be seen in the James Bond film Thunderball, and the interior shots for the pub in Hot Fuzz were filmed in the Royal Standard pub. The New Town also features in two other postwar colour films, John & Julie and The Fast Lady. Many other parts of the town have been used in films due to the old film studio and nearby Pinewood Studios. More recently it has often been used as a "location" for the TV murder mystery series, Midsomer Murders and the Inspector Morse spinoff Lewis.

The New Town was built 1 mile further to the north, when the railway arrived, at the turn of the 20th century. The railway station is on the Chiltern Main Line out of Marylebone towards High Wycombe it then branches to Aylesbury, and Birmingham Snow Hill. Old Beaconsfield which grew up on the Oxford Road in part to serve the coach traffic, is mirrored by New Beaconsfield which has grown up round the station.

Beaconsfield is also home to the Chiltern Shakespeare Company, which annually holds amateur performances of Shakespeare plays, Beaconsfield Theatre Group (over 60 years old), Beaconsfield Musical & Operatic Society (over 100 years old) and to The Young Theatre (at Beaconsfield), a theatre company "run by young people for young people" and winners of the All British Festival of One Act Plays in 2004.

Dr Liam Fox was a GP here before being elected to Parliament.

Local pop band The Hit Parade released their single "On The Road To Beaconsfield", a celebration of Enid Blyton and her life in the town, in 1994.[8]

Beaconsfield was named 'Britain's richest town' (based on an average house price of £684,474) by The Daily Telegraph in 2008.[9] In 2011 the post town had the highest proportion in the UK of £1 million-plus homes for sale (at 47%, compared to 3.5% nationally).[10] In 2011, Burkes Road was named as the second most expensive road in the country outside London.[11]

Sport and leisure


The M40 runs very close to the town with Junction 2 on the parish boundary and is 4 lanes wide in either direction (junctions 1a to 3). Junction 2 is home to Beaconsfield motorway services. Local roads include the A355 which connects Amersham and Slough via Beaconsfield. The A40 parallels the M40 from London to Oxford and for years was the main road between the two cities as its precursor. The B474 connects the town to Hazlemere.

Beaconsfield railway station provides services to Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street, Aylesbury, Oxford and London Marylebone. There are fast and slow services, the former currently reaching London in around twenty five minutes. It has a car park for commuters who drive towards the capital along the M40.

Twin town


Buckinghamshire County Council operates a selective secondary education system, rather than a comprehensive system. Pupils can take the 11+ test at the beginning of year 6, when they are age 10 or 11. Approximately 30% attain a score that makes them eligible to go to grammar schools, as well as to the county's upper schools.

  • Alfriston School is a special school for girls, with moderate learning difficulties, between the ages of 11 and 18.
  • Beaconsfield High School[13] is a high performing grammar school for girls between the ages of 11 and 18.
  • The Beaconsfield School[14] has a good performance rating and its sixth form students join together with Beaconsfield High to increase the courses available.
  • Davenies School[15] is a private preparatory day school for boys between ages 4 and 13.[16]
  • High March School[17] is a private preparatory day school for girls between the ages of 3 and 11 with a few boys in the Nursery.[18]
  • Butlers Court School is a primary school for girls and boys.[19]
  • St Mary's and All Saints is a CofE primary school for girls and boys.
  • Holtspur School & Pre-School is a pre-school and primary school for boys and girls


2011 Published Statistics: Population, home ownership and extracts from Physical Environment, surveyed in 2005[1]
Output areaHomes owned outrightOwned with a loanSocially rentedPrivately rentedOtherkm² roadskm² waterkm² domestic gardenskm² domestic buildingskm² non-domestic buildingsUsual residentskm²
Civil parish1,8421,419655700760.9140.0752.9350.4660.13112,08119.66

Notable residents

  • Zoë Ball (born 1970) – TV presenter, grew up in Beaconsfield
  • Enid Blyton (1897–1968) – writer who lived for most of her life in Green Hedges—a large house that has since been demolished but there is an Enid Blyton Room nearby at The Red Lion pub in Knotty Green, where there is a gallery of pictures and a library of books, donated by The Enid Blyton Society[20] There is a model of her house at Bekonscot Model Village. In 2014 a plaque recording her time as a resident in the town from 1938 until her death in 1968 was unveiled in the town hall gardens, next to small iron figures of Noddy and Big Ears.[21]
  • Edmund Burke (1729–1797) – statesman and the founder of political conservatism, lived in the Gregories estate just outside Beaconsfield[22]
  • G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) – writer, is buried in Beaconsfield. There is a blue plaque on his former home in Burkes Road.[23]
  • James Corden (born 1978) – actor and TV presenter, lived in Beaconsfield until 2009[24]
  • Beverley Craven (born 1963) – singer, has lived in Beaconsfield since 2003[25]
  • Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice between 1868 and 1880 was created Earl of Beaconsfield by Queen Victoria in 1876[26]
  • Robert Frost (1874–1963) poet, moved to Beaconsfield with his family in 1912[27]
  • Barry Gibb (born 1946) singer with the Bee Gees[28]
  • Chris Harris (born 1975) – automotive journalist and automotive racing driver, was born in Beaconsfield
  • Dame Wendy Hiller (1912–2003) – actress, moved to Beaconsfield with her husband Ronald Gow in the early 1940s and lived there until her death[29]
  • Peter Jones (born 1966) – entrepreneur and star of Dragon's Den lived in Beaconsfield with his wife and children[30]
  • Albert Ernest Kitson (1868–1937) – geologist and naturalist, moved to Beaconsfield in 1930 and died there in 1937[31]
  • Anne Main (born 1957) – former MP for St Albans, Hertfordshire, is from Beaconsfield originally[32]
  • Airey Neave (1916–1979) – politician, grew up in Beaconsfield[33]
  • Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) – ambassador, orientalist and High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, died in Beaconsfield[34]
  • Swaraj Paul (born 1931) – business magnate and philanthropist, lives in Beaconsfield[35]
  • Sir Terry Pratchett (1948–2015) – writer, was born and brought up in Beaconsfield[36]
  • Piers Paul Read (born 1941) – novelist and non-fiction author, was born in Beaconsfield[37]
  • Peter Rogers (1916–2009) – Carry On Films producer, lived for many years in Beaconsfield because of its proximity to Pinewood Studios[38]
  • Alison Uttley (1884–1976) – writer, moved to Beaconsfield during the Second World War[39]
  • Molly Templeton (born 1989) – grew up in the town, before achieving fame on YouTube
  • Romain Grosjean (born 1986) – Formula 1 driver currently driving for Haas F1 Team.
  • Claire Trévien (born 1985) – poet and academic, lives in Beaconsfield.
  • Edmund Waller (1606–1687) – poet, lived at Hall Barn in Beaconsfield[40]
  • Bert Weedon (1920–2012) – guitarist

See also

Notes and references

  1. "Local statistics - Office for National Statistics".
  2. "Parishes: Beaconsfield - British History Online".
  3. " History Pages".
  4. The National Cyclopaedia of Useful Knowledge, Vol.III, London, (1847), Charles Knight, p.898
  5. Beaconsfield, GENUKI Archived 23 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "1997: Labour landslide ends Tory rule". BBC News. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  7. "Filming locations for Brief Encounter (1945)". Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  8. TheHitParader (16 December 2009). "The Hit Parade - On The Road To Beaconsfield" via YouTube.
  9. "Britain's richest towns: 10 - 1". The Daily Telegraph. London. 19 April 2008.
  10. "Million Pound Hotspots: Towns and Areas Revealed".
  11. "House prices top £1m in over 200 streets in England".
  12. "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  13. website, Beaconsfield High School. "Beaconsfield High School - Home".
  14. "200 invalid-request".
  15. "Davenies School - A thriving IAPS day school for boys". Davenies School.
  16. 2004 Report of Davenies School by the Independent Schools Inspectorate Archived 12 March 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  17. "High March School, Beaconsfield, Bucks -".
  18. 2003 Report of High March School by the Independent Schools Inspectorate Archived 12 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Welcome - Butlers Court School".
  20. Bensoussane, Anita. "A Biography of Enid Blyton—The Story of Her Life". The Enid Blyton Society. Archived from the original on 22 November 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  21. Enid Blyton plaque unveiled in Beaconsfield "BBC-online" published 8 May 2014, Accessed 8 May 2014
  22. Lambert, Elizabeth R. (2003). Edmund Burke of Beaconsfield. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-87413-800-0.
  23. Chesterton, G. K. (2008). Orthodoxy. Fairfield, Iowa: 1st World Library. p. 187. ISBN 1-4218-9380-0.
  24. Burns, Greg (23 January 2009). "Beaconsfield bakery missed James Corden's business". Buckinghamshire Advertiser. Archived from the original on 11 September 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
  25. Vilku, Jassmine (15 October 2009). "Comeback for singer Beverley Craven". Bucks Free Press. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  26. Blake, Robert (1966). Disraeli. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 566. ISBN 0-19-832903-2. OCLC 8047.
  27. Parini, Jay (2000). Robert Frost: A Life. New York, New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-6341-2.
  28. "Barry Gibb's House". Virtual Globetrotting. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  29. "Dame Wendy Hiller dies at 90". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  30. Abell, Jack (6 January 2009). "New Years Honours for south Bucks residents". Buckinghamshire Advertiser. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  31. Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (Great Britain) (1937). Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, Volume 47. Los Angeles, California: E. & F.N. Spon, Ltd. p. 543.
  32. Lyon, John (4 February 2010). "St Albans MP Anne Main's full interview with John Lyon". St Albans Review. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  33. Routledge, Paul (2002). Public servant, secret agent: the elusive life and violent death of Airey Neave. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Fourth Estate. p. 23. ISBN 1-84115-244-7.
  34. "OUSELEY, Gore". Encyclopædia Iranica. 2004. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  35. Jones, Barbara (7 March 2010). "How Sarah Brown charmed the 'Labour Ashcroft'". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  36. Smith, Kevin P. (20 September 2002). "Terry Pratchett". The Literary Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  37. Wakeman, John (1980). World authors, 1970-1975. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Wilson. p. 673. ISBN 978-0-8242-0641-3.
  38. Sellers, Robert (16 April 2009). "Peter Rogers: Film producer who co-created the 'Carry On' comedies". London: The Independent. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  39. Judd, Denis (1986). Alison Uttley: the life of a country child (1884-1976) : the authorised biography. Joseph. ISBN 0-7181-2449-9.
  40. Waller, Edmund (1854). Poetical works of Edmund Waller. J. W. Parker. p. 9.
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