Wendover is a small market town at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, five miles south-east of Aylesbury, on the A413 main road. It has good rail and road links to London and is a popular commuter location, enjoying easy access to the surrounding hills. The Ridgeway long distance footpath runs down Wendover High Street on its way to Ivinghoe Beacon. Wendover is listed in the Domesday Book as, “Wendovre” and the name is derived from the old English language for “white waters”, referring to the streams which run close to the town bringing chalk deposits with them. Wendover has held markets since 1199, but officially became a town in 1464, when it was granted a Royal Charter.
Wendover’s situation, on a route to London, resulted in it having numerous coaching inns in comparison to its relatively modest size. The half-timbered Red Lion Hotel in the town centre, dates from at least 1670, though probably earlier. This coaching inn has wooden panelling and timbered ceilings. From here, a stage coach ran daily to the Bull Inn in Holborn, London, which took five hours and returned the same day. The Red Lion Hotel is famous for having the world’s oldest barmaid, Dolly Saville, who died in February 2015, aged 100. She started work at the Red Lion in 1940 and pulled pints there, when she charged eight pennies per pint. She served many celebrities in her 74 years, including Sir Edward Heath, Sir Stanley Matthews, Dame Vera Lynn, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Pierce Brosnan.
The George and Dragon pub is the oldest in Wendover. It has a 16th century low beamed interior, but serves Thai food. The Shoulder of Mutton pub, a 17th century inn, but rebuilt in the 18th century, stands at the entrance to Wendover Railway Station and offers a comfortable old English atmosphere. The Pack Horse pub on Tring Road, is small and dates from 1769. It is situated at the end of a row of cottages, known as Anne Boleyn Cottages. They are said to have been a gift from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn on their marriage.
Wendover has several significant buildings. The Clock Tower was built in 1842, but extended in 1870, with the addition of the tower and spire. It has been used as a market hall and town gaol. These days, it is the Tourist Information Centre. St. Mary’s Church, the oldest building in Wendover, is a Grade II listed building dating from the 12th century. It is only a short walk south of the town. It was restored in 1839 and 1869, principally by the famous Victorian architect, George Edmund Street, whose best known work is the Law Courts in the Strand, London. The lychgate dates from 1871 and is an oak structure on a flint and stone plinth.
Wendover Woods can easily be reached from the town. There are eight hundred acres, providing walks, cycle tracks, an adventure playground and a cafe. Aston Hill Bike Park has mountain biking trails and tree top zip wires.
Coombe Hill, next to the hamlet of Dunsmore, is the highest point in the Chiltern Hills at 852 feet. It is two miles south of Wendover and is now owned by the National Trust. There are extensive views across the Vale of Aylesbury and on a clear day, the Cotswolds can be seen. The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister’s official country residence, Chequers, can be seen from Coombe Hill. At the top, there is a monument to the men of Buckinghamshire who lost their lives in the Boer War.