Chalfont St. Giles is a pretty village with a village pond in Buckinghamshire, 25 miles from London, on the edge of the Chiltern Hills. Chalfont means “chalk spring”. It is in the valley of the River Misbourne and is renowned for its connection with the poet, John Milton. He came to Chalfont St. Giles in 1665 to escape the plague in London. Lonely and with failing eyesight, he spent his last years at his cottage in the village, which is open to the public. Although he had completed his most famous work, “Paradise Lost” by 1664, he sold the rights for publication in 1667 and obtained £5. He died in 1674 and was buried in St. Giles Church, Cripplegate in London.
The church in Chalfont St. Giles is also dedicated to St. Giles and is built of flint, part of which dates from the 12th century, but the tower was built in the 15th century, when the church was refurbished. In the churchyard, is the grave of Bertram Mills and his wife. He died in 1938. He had become a household name, creating Bertram Mills Circus, which was particularly famous for the Christmas Circus Shows at Olympia in London. His father owned farms at Chalfont St. Giles and here Bertram developed a love of horses, which were stabled on the farms for rest periods. They were used in his father’s funeral undertaking business. After his death, the circus was carried on by his sons until 1967, when rising costs and competition from television made continuation uneconomic.
Close to the River Misbourne, is a 16th century manor house called “The Vache”. It was visited frequently by Captain Cook, the explorer. He gave the name to a small island which lies off the South-West peninsula of Haiti in the South Seas. A monument to Captain Cook is in the grounds of “The Vache”.
As the village is close to Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, it has been chosen as a location for many feature films and TV programmes, including Dad’s Army, Jeeves and Wooster, Hammer House of Horror, The Sweeney and Canterbury Tales.
Where in England is Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire?
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