History of Piddington & Wheeler End

The Piddington and Wheeler End parish area is in the heart of the chalky Chiltern Hills, only 2km west of the famous historic National Trust village of West Wycombe.

Although Piddington itself is a fairly recent settlement (more of that later), it lies on an ancinet route from London to Oxford and then on to Wales. Roman metal objects and coins were found in the fields to the East and West of Piddington and in Fillingdon Woods to the North-West. At the top of the hill along Old Dashwood Hill there was a medieval settlement set inside a circular ditch measuring some 60M across – this can still be seen today. It had several buildings inside, a dovecot nearby, and a well or mineshaft where several bodies were found, probably victims of the Black Death.

Historian Charles Morris mapped a possible Roman road through Piddington – “A Roman Road Through South Buckinghamshire”, published in 1968.

The road through Piddington is shown on a 1675 map going from London to Aberystwyth.

A 1770 map shows the main road curving around the hill to reduce the gradient; this can still be followed as an impressive deep “hollow-way” footpath up the hill, probably deepened by the large herds of cattle guided by drovers, breaking up the soft chalk under their hooves. Heavy rains washed the debris down the hollow-way like a chute. This way was adopted and probably improved by the Beaconsfield to Stokenchurch Turnpike Trust from 1719.

Around 1800 a turnpike road was made, now called the Old Dashwood Hill, but this went straight up the hill making the slope much steeper. What is now The Dashwood Roadhouse was a coaching inn at the bottom of the hill. Stage-coaches hired extra horses to pull up the hill, but let the horses find their own way back home!

Simon Cains, our local history expert and the man behind much of this history content, wrote an interesting illustrated article about the historical routes through Piddington – History-of-routes-through-Piddington 


Wheeler End, in contrast to Piddington, is a much older settlement. On a map of 1770 the area is already starting to look quite similar to today with two widely spaced roads either side of a large common area.

On the 1851 census almost all the men of the village were labourers, probably mostly on the farms, and almost all the women and girls who worked were lacemaking.  Nine men in the village made chairs, the early days of a new industry.

There is a detailed study of Wheeler End’s development and it’s building Wheeler-End-Common-conservation-area-study

There was a large brick-making industry in Cadmore End Common, just outside the parish, until the clay ran out in 1939.  Some of the Wheeler End labourers may have worked at this, and the village pub was called the Brickmaker’s Arms.

You can read more about Cadmore End in the conservation area study Cadmore-End-conservation-area-study


The village of Piddington was only created in 1903 when Benjamin North’s furniture factory had to move here from West Wycombe, because the railway company took back the land he was leasing for a timber store.  Mr North bought enough land for the factory and housing. The early photos on the SWOP  website from 1903 show the brand new factory surrounded by fields.  Piddington only grew slowly, so most workers still had to commute in, many walking down from Wheeler End.

The A40 was improved again in 1927 by making a deep cutting, this was done using a steam powered excavator, and narrow-gauge railways to carry the chalk away.  The A40 was also straightened and moved away from Piddington at the same time, creating a village green and room for allotments.

Finally the M40 was built in 1967, including a huge cutting through the Chilterns, taking most of the traffic off the A40.

The road joining Piddington and Wheeler End is Chipps Hill; halfway up the hill is Chipps Manor, belonging to the Dashwood Estate.  In 1946 West Wycombe House had become so run-down and expensive that the 10th baronet Sir John Dashwood lived at Chipps Manor for a while.  His son Francis ( later the 11th baronet) lived here with his family until 1963.