Great Hampden

Great Hampden

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 51.7062
longitude= -0.7780
official_name= Great Hampden
civil_parish = Great and Little Hampden
population= 259 [ [ Neighbourhood Statistics 2001 Census] ]
shire_district= Wycombe
shire_county = Buckinghamshire
region= South East England
constituency_westminster= Wycombe
postcode_district = HP16
postcode_area= HP
dial_code= 01494

static_image_caption=Great Hampden Church
os_grid_reference= SP845015
ambulance_service = ?

Great Hampden and Little Hampden are two villages in Buckinghamshire, England, about three miles south-east of Princes Risborough. The former is the ancestral home of the Hobart-Hampden family, the most famous of whom was the English Civil War hero John Hampden. Great and Little Hampden is also a civil parish within Wycombe district.

The villages were first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, when they were jointly called "Hamdena" after the owners of the local manor. This shows how long the same family had been in possession of land in Buckinghamshire (the Hobart part of the family name came later).

By the 14th century 'Hamdena' was split into the two villages, Great Hampden at the top of one hill and Little Hampden on the next hill, with the lush arable land forming the rest of the two parishes spread out in the valley between them. It was also at about this time that Hampden House, the house belonging to the Hobart-Hampden family was rebuilt.

After the death of John Hampden, a cross was erected just above the lane that leads from Hampden House to the nearby village of Prestwood. Where the cross stands is reputed to be the spot where John Hampden stood when he first refused to pay the Ship Money tax in 1636. However the nearby village of Great Kimble also claims to be the place where he refused to pay the tax. From the cross there is a view of the Chiltern Hills.

Hampden himself is buried at the church in Great Hampden, in an unmarked grave. His first wife had a stone tablet in her honour erected in the chancel. In the 19th century the floor below this tablet was lifted and a body exhumed which was missing its hand and had had its shoulder dislocated. Due to the nature of Hampden's death at the Battle of Chalgrove Field near Thame (he died as a result of an injury to his arm and shoulder) this was assumed to be the body of Hampden himself, however this assumption has since been challenged by other historians.

Great Hampden church stands a mile or so from the village. Its isolation made it an attractive location for some scenes in the 1970 film Cromwell. In more modern times Hampden House was used extensively by the Hammer film studios as the perfect gothic backdrop for many of their films.

The nave of Little Hampden Church was built in the 13th Century and a distinctive half timbered porch was added in the 15th century. There are 13th century wall paintings of saints inside that were discovered in 1907, however they are incomplete due to a major rebuild of the chancel in 1859. Opposite the church is Manor Farm which is white plastered.


Map links

*Great Hampden gbmapping|SP845015
*Little Hampden gbmappingsmall|SP859037

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