Visitors to the Parish Church of All Saints in High Wycombe, will find, amid the range of postcards and souvenirs available for purchase, a newly revised “Short History” booklet compiled by High Wycombe Society Trustee, David Snoxell, with a foreword by the Rev’d Hugh Ellis, Vicar and Team Rector. The cover price just one pound (£1)
Condensing over 900 years of history into the limited space available in this publication, yet still providing a readable narrative for a newcomer, must have been a challenge for the author who is known for his detailed knowledge; but the result is a very approachable overview, highlighting many features which can be observed in the church today.
The careful reader will be bound to observe such external features as the Roman tiles within the fabric of the tower, once part of the villa on the Rye, and the decorative gothic pinnacles added to the tower by order of John Petty (1st Earl of Shelburne of the 2nd creation).
Inside the church, the reader is guided to observe both the 1754 baroque monument to Henry Petty (first Earl of Shelburne of the first creation), and the later 1772 marble monument to Lady Sophia Cartaret (first wife of William, 2nd Earl of Shelburne of the 2nd creation).
Also highlighted are a number of memorials and artefacts relating to the Boer War, and both the first and second World Wars, including those in memory of the Viscount Wendover (heir to 3rd Lord Carrington) and the sanctuary reredos screen.
There are some interesting details about the history of music in the church. From the installation of the first peal of bells to the building and rebuilding and positioning of the organ.
The final section of the booklet outlines the changes made in recent times to add modern facilities to the building. These have been sensitively undertaken, balancing the need to preserve and cherish the heritage, with the practical demands of the modern age. As the Rev’d Hugh Ellis reminds us in the foreword, history is always in the making.
The new booklet – “All Saints High Wycombe – A Short History” includes 16 small illustrations by a number of photographers including a couple of historical pictures from the SWOP collection (courtesy of Wycombe Museum and Wycombe library). These are photographs of engravings from the mid-nineteenth century.
There are very many more images of interest within the SWOP collection. While writing this post, I was particularly interested to note that there are a few images which relate directly to the organ refurbishment in 1930’s. (see below)