Over the past decade, I have organised many events on behalf of the Beaconsfield Society to celebrate and commemorate some of our town’s most famous residents associated with literature and the arts, and to mark significant historical events in the town. These have helped raise awareness and foster pride in our town’s story and have attracted very positive publicity in local and national press and also on the BBC.
I believe that Beaconsfield has a fantastic opportunity to honour its famous residents when the Wilton Park development eventually takes shape. In naming new roads on the development after them we can go beyond the ubiquitous street names which modern developments often tend to attract, and celebrate our rich past.
Local historian Donald Stanley and I have therefore drawn up a list of people associated with Beaconsfield over the centuries, whose names have made or could make meaningful place names. We recognise some already through existing road names and these are shown first; why don’t we continue to honour more of our famous citizens as new roads are built? We recognise others through plaques erected in the town (there are several already) and some may be good candidates for road names as well. There are yet more which would be worthy of recognition someday, including some for Wilton Park directly related to its illustrious WW2 history.
Beaconsfield Persons of Historical Interest
Twins Francis and Riversdale Grenfell
Lived at Wilton Park until their parents died whereupon their uncle Field Marshall Lord Grenfell of Butler’s Court became their guardian. Francis was awarded one of the first Victoria Crosses of WW1 (not the first). Please note that there is already a Grenfell Road in Beaconsfield but Francis or Riversdale could be used in Wilton Park.
G K Chesterton
Critic, poet, essayist, Christian journalist, author of novels and short stories (Father Brown). Lived in Beaconsfield at two different houses in Grove Road, Overroads and Top Meadow where there is a Blue plaque for him. Chesterton Green is named after him.
Poet and politician lived in Little Hall Barn, Windsor End later in Hall Barn which he designed.
There is already a Waller Road in Beaconsfield.
World Famous children’s writer, resident of Beaconsfield 1938-1968. Blyton Close Beaconsfield is on the site of her house Green Hedges. Plaque erected Beaconsfield Town Council garden.
From about 1760 the Du Pre family owned Wilton Park Estate. There is already a Du Pre Crescent in Wilton Park and we must hope that this is retained.
Lady Ann Hyde
Her husband was introduced to the Gunpowder Plot by her uncle, Edmund Waller. He was hanged; Waller was pardoned. Their graves are adjacent to one another in St Mary’s churchyard. She founded one of Beaconsfield’s charities. There is already a named Hyde Green in Beaconsfield.
America’s premier poet resident of Beaconsfield 1912. He was published for the first time whilst in Beaconsfield and wrote some of his most famous poems here. Plaque erected at 26 Reynolds Road.
Sir Terry Pratchett
Renowned fantasy author born near Beaconsfield 1948, died 2015. Plaque erected outside Beaconsfield Library.
Children’s writer and the creator of Little Grey Rabbit stories. Resident of Beaconsfield 1938- 1976.
Plaque erected Beaconsfield Town Council garden.
Some more that are so far unrecognised (in alphabetical order!)
Builders of early part of new Town; bellringers, one was a Churchwarden at St Mary’s. Members of Cricket Club, of which one was Captain; played at Wilton Park.
For over 150 years men of the Charsley family were Beaconsfield’s solicitors. Amongst other offices held were Clerk of the Turnpike Trust, Clerk to Beaconsfield UDC, Steward of local estates, School Manager, and Churchwarden. One of their ladies, Matilda, carved St Mary’s pulpit and font. Another, Fanny Anne, published illustrations of Australian wild flowers in tribute to which the Australian daisy was named Helipterum charsleyae.
Spent childhood in house which is now the Nationwide branch in Penn road. Former Head of BBC Television who resigned to become a leader of the campaign to end its monopoly. Coined the term ‘Independent Television’ in place of ‘Commercial Television’. Author: ‘London Belongs to Me’, ‘Children of the Archbishop’ etc.
Drinker, gambler, womaniser. Lived in Little Hall Barn. Noted for his ‘Memoirs’.
Thomas Frederick Lane
Landlord of White Hart, Chairman of Beaconsfield UDC, county councillor,
Organist, President of Camera Club Society.
Lord Reith of Stonehaven
First Director General of BBC; lived at Harrias House. There is a Lord Reith Place near Harrias House.
Tapping family provided a Parish Clerk, members of St Mary’s choir, and bell-ringers.
Advanced from holding the heads of the horses of Charsley’s clients to becoming Clerk of their practice and of that of their successors, Baily Gibson; awarded MBE for services to the law.
Wilton Park – Important Names from WW 2
Colonel Thomas Kendrick OBE masterminded and commanded an intelligence operation from Wilton Park, Latimer House and Trent Park to record the conversations of senior German commanders and thousands of German POWs. It was at these sites under his direction that information was finally confirmed of Hitler’s deadly weapons programme of V1 and V2, as well as the atomic bomb. This intelligence shortened the war and saved lives and is now recognised on a par with Bletchley Park.
Fritz Lustig worked as a secret listener at Wilton Park and Latimer House. Like other secret listeners, he had fled Nazi Germany as a Jewish refugee and volunteered for the British Army. He was transferred to the Intelligence Corps and signed the Official Secrets Act. He met his future wife Susan Cohn at Wilton Park – she was also engaged on top-secret work. He first raised awareness of his clandestine role over a decade ago and this enabled the story to be finally told by historian Dr Helen Fry.
(Omitted are film and TV people such as Dame Wendy Hiller, Margaret Rutherford, Dirk Bogarde, Bert Weedon, Betty Box and Peter Rogers.)
These ideas have been submitted to Inland Homes in advance of their forthcoming development (although without any response!) and to every Town, District and County Councillor who represents us, being well received by all (many wrote to thank me). If anyone knows of other deserving former citizens, please get in touch with me via the Society! Let’s celebrate the past.