Cadsden is a tiny village, two miles north east of Princes Risborough, in Buckinghamshire. The origin of the name, Cadsden, is uncertain, but the word “Catsdean” was used in Anglo-Saxon times, when it meant valley of wild cats. Cadsden is situated at the bottom of a steep valley. An alternative derivation is that “cads” was a local name for highwaymen who stole from travellers on the stage coaches. The village is situated beside The Ridgeway, an ancient drovers’ track, which can be described as Britain’s oldest road. It runs for eighty seven miles, from Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon, Buckinghamshire.
The Plough at Cadsden can claim to be the most famous pub in England and dates back to the 16th century. It was a coaching inn for stage coaches journeying to London. It is the pub closest to Chequers, the country weekend residence of the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom since 1921. At weekends, The Plough frequently forms part of British political life, when Chequers is used for entertaining overseas heads of state and for high level political meetings. In October 2015, David Cameron, the United Kingdom Prime Minister and the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, enjoyed a pint of beer and traditional fish and chips at The Plough. Consequently, the pub has attracted large numbers of Chinese tourists. In December 2016, it was reported that The Plough had been sold to a Chinese government backed investment group. They commented that the culture of the English pub was popular and growing in China. They intended to open similar friendly bars in China. In 2012, the pub was in the headlines when, following a Sunday lunch, David and Samantha Cameron left their eight year old daughter, Nancy, behind by mistake.
As well as achieving fame in the newspapers, The Plough has also appeared on television in the detective series, Midsomer Murders. Cadsden was renamed Cadsden Ridge in the episode, ‘Down Among the Dead Men’, in 2006.
There are several walks which start from The Plough. A short distance from the pub, is a footpath which leads to The Ridgeway Path which continues to Chequers. Chequers is a Grade I Listed mansion with ten bedrooms and was built in 1565. An earlier 12th century house belonged to an Exchequer official, whose family took the name “de Chekers”, hence the current name of the mansion. Lady Mary Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey, was imprisoned in Chequers in 1566 and the house was later owned by a grandson of Oliver Cromwell. Chequers was given to the nation by Lord and Lady Lee of Fareham in 1921. They did not have any children. In 1921, David Lloyd George was the first prime minister to occupy the mansion. In addition to the house, the Chequers Estate extends to 1,500 acres and is obviously not open to the public. Surprisingly though, The Ridgeway public footpath crosses the main drive to Chequers. There are security signs warning potential trespassers not to venture nearer to Chequers and that their movements are being monitored.
Coombe Hill, which overlooks Chequers, is now owned by the National Trust and its summit, at 852 feet, is the highest point on the Chiltern Hills. Until 1921, most of the hill formed part of the Chequers Estate. At the top of the hill is the Coombe Hill Monument. This was erected in 1904 in memory of 148 men from Buckinghamshire
who died for their country during the Boer War between 1899 and 1902. The names of all the men who lost their lives are shown.
Above the village of Whiteleaf, is Whiteleaf Hill on which is cut the Whiteleaf Cross, which at 100 metres high, makes it an important landmark for miles around. It dates from at least 1742, but the reason for its creation is unknown. However, it could be in commemoration of a victory over the Danes. The hill provides panoramic views of the Chiltern Hills across the Vale of Aylesbury to the Wessex Downs.