Great Missenden is a large village in the Chiltern Hills, between Amersham and Wendover in Buckinghamshire, in the valley of the Misbourne River. It is popular with London commuters, having a forty minute direct train service to Marylebone Station in London. Its origin is in medieval times and retains much of its old charm. It is believed that the name is derived from Old English, meaning “valley where the marsh plants grow”. It is situated on a route between London and the Midlands. It had several coaching inns. It has been used as a filming location for several episodes of the TV series, Midsomer Murders.
Great Missenden is best known as the home of Roald Dahl, the world famous author, who lived here for thirty six years. He moved to Great Missenden in 1954 with his first wife, Patricia Neal, the Hollywood actress. He wrote most of his much loved children’s books at his home, Gipsy House. Many of his stories are set in, or were inspired, by places in the village. He is buried in St. Peter and St. Paul Churchyard, which is away from the village centre, but overlooks the village. Children still leave toys and flowers at his grave. A trail of BFG footprints lead to his grave. The current church was built during the 14th and 15th centuries and has later 19th century additions. Roald Dahl said, “I have never lived in a town or city and I would hate to do so.”
Many visitors are attracted to the village by The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, which is aimed at six to twelve year old children and their families. It contains the interior of Roald Dahl’s original Writing Hut, which he had in his home, Gipsy House. The entrance to The Museum and Story Centre, displays The Wonka Gates, specially made and donated by the U.S. film producers, Warner Brothers, who made the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005. There is a village trail, which includes many of the places that feature in Roald Dahl’s stories. The village Post Office used to receive 4,000 letters each week for Roald Dahl and even now after his death, some still arrive. The red petrol pumps at 64 High Street, were the inspiration for the garage in the 1975 story, Danny the Champion of the World. Crown House at 70 High Street, now a private residence, was the inspiration for Sophie’s orphanage in the 1982 story, The BFG. Roald Dahl used to shop at 80 High Street, which was a butchers. He regularly visited with his dog, Chopper.