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A history of The Lee - part 1

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Village crossroad The Lee Parish comprises a small group of connected communities sitting on the Chiltern hills above Great Missenden in South Buckinghamshire.

But what connects these communities with each other and with the past... and how has the village changed over the past thousand years?

These pages offer a short account of this rich history.


Early History

The name Lee is believed to be derived from the old Anglo Saxon word ‘leah’ meaning ‘woodland clearing’ and a small community at Lee is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. At that time the Chitern hills were largely covered with woodland and the community at Lee would have been closely linked to nearby lowland areas at Great Missenden and Wendover, which had land more suited to crops and grazing. Over the centuries greater areas of woodland were cleared in the Chilterns and these hill-top communities were able to become more self-sufficient.

In the 13th century a chapel was built at Lee.
According to Lipscomb’s history of Buckinghamshire, the chapel “… was originally built as a Chapel of Ease to Weston Turville and was granted… by the family of Turville to Missenden Abbey” during the 13th century. The chapel still stands today and is now a Grade 1 listed building.
                                Old Church   Lee Chapel
(For a more detailed history of the Old Church and the story of the Old Church Trust click here.)

The village
, sometimes referred to historically as 'Lee Chapel', then remained closely associated with Missenden Abbey until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1547. Lee then continued as a rural ‘hamlet’ in the parish of Great Missenden - that is as a village with its own church, but not forming a parish in its own right.

Local towns began to grow and ancient rights of way such as the Ridgeway also passed not far from Lee. However, set well away from the main 'road', transport to and from the Lee was very limited and the only way for most villagers to get to work was to walk. Over the centuries, the village became increasingly self-sufficient with a number of farms, its own bakery and of course a pub never far away.

Old Swan Other small farming communities also developed on the high ground to the north of Great Missenden; next to Lee at Lee Common and at Hunts Green; on the road to Wendover at King's Ash and at Lee Gate; and around the cross-roads at Swan Bottom. Houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries remain in all of these communities.


The 16th century Old Swan Inn at Swan Bottom        
 

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