Monks Risborough


Church: St Dunstan

Hundred: Aylesbury

Poor Law District: Wycombe

Size (acres): 2873

Easting & Northing: 480204

Grid Ref SP800040 Click to see map



Monks Risborough PARISH St Dunstan
Green Healy NAMES name for Green Hailey in 1825
Medell NAMES name for Meadle in 1541
Monkying Rysburgh NAMES name for Monks Risborough in 1509
Ulfyswyke NAMES name for Owlswick in 1617
Whitcliffe Cross NAMES name for Whiteleaf in 1766
Whitt Light NAMES name for Whiteleaf in 1541
Baptist NON-CONFORMIST Askett. First Mentioned: 1833
Askett PLACE within the parish
Cadsden PLACE within the parish
Chadwell Hill PLACE within the parish
Green Hailey PLACE within the parish
Hatchmead PLACE within the parish
Meadle PLACE within the parish
Owlswick PLACE within the parish
Redland End PLACE within the parish
Whiteleaf PLACE within the parish




These population figures are based on the Census results. The boundaries are those used in the particular census which may vary over time..

1801 768
1811 899
1821 934
1831 1018
1841 1083
1851 1064
1861 985
1871 938
1881 847
1891 810
1901 714
1911 650
1921 703
1931 827
1941 N/A
1951 N/A
1961 N/A
1971 N/A
1981 N/A
1991 N/A

There was no census in 1941.



Parish  Church  Register  Start
Monks Risborough   St Dunstan   Baptisms   1587   1901   Yes,
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Not available
Monks Risborough   St Dunstan   Marriages   1587   1901   Yes,
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Not available
Monks Risborough, Owlswick   St Peter's Chapel   Marriages   1606   1638   Yes,
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Not available
Monks Risborough   St Dunstan   Burials   1587   1901   Yes,
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Not available
Monks Risborough   St Dunstan   Burials   1610   1636   Yes,
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Not available




These were extracted from our own records and presented as a guide.

PositionBefore 1700  18th Century  19th Century  Overall Surnames  



Description of Monks Risborough from J. J. Sheahan, 1861.

This parish including several hamlets extends over an area of 3,220 acres, of the rateable value of £3,137. Population 958 souls. The soil is clay, chalk, loam, and gravel. The surface is greatly diversified, southern part of the parish being very high land.

The village is small and scattered, and lies in a pleasant situation 5 miles S. W. from Wendover, and 7 miles S. W. from Aylesbury. The place derives the prefix to its name from the monks of Christ Church, in Canterbury to whom the estate was given by Escwyn Bishop of Dorchester about the year 993. That monastery had been founded by King Ethelbert, on his conversion to Christianity by St Augustine, in the 6th century. It has been said that there was a Cell of Benedictine monks at Risborough, subject to the Canterbury monastery; but of this no evidence has been found.

The old road called Icknield Way runs through Monks Risborough parish from east to west.

The living is a Rectory, valued in the King’s Books at £30, and now returned at £353 per annum. The present Rector, the Rev. Henry William Johnson Beauchamp, was presented to the benefice in 1839 by Dr. Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury, the then patron; but an exchange has since been made under the Ecclesiastical Commission, and the Bishop of Oxford is now the patron. The tithes were commuted for land at the time of the inclosure of the parish which was completed in 1839; the woods and woodlands in converted remaining subject to the tithe. There are upwards of 400 acres of glebe land.

The rectory house, near the church, is a red-brick building, a small part of which is more than two centuries old.

The Baptist Chapel is a good sized edifice, with a burial ground attached.

The National School is a neat substantial structure in 1859, at the expense of nearly £300, raised chiefly by subscription. The average number of children that attend is about 90.

The hamlets in this parish are Askett, Cadsden, Meadle, Oulswick, and Whiteleaf.

Askett – spelt in old records Ascott, Arscott, and Ascot – lies on the east side of the parish. In this hamlet Sir Francis Bernard Morland, Bart., has a cottage residence.

Sir Farncis Bernard Morland, Bart., is son of Sir Scrope Bernard (the fourth Bart., who assumed the name of Morland in 1811) by the daughter of William Morland, Esq., of Lee, Co. Kent. Sir Francis was born in London 1790; succeeded his father in 1830; and is a Deputy-Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire. The first Baronet was Governor of New Jersey in 1758, and of Massachusetts Bay in 1760. Heir Presumptive – the present Baronet’s brother, Thomas Tyringham Bernard, of Neither Winchendon, Bucks, born in 1791.

Cadsden or Cats-Deans (Upper, Middle, and Lower) consist of a few cottages and a public-house situated in a deep, romantic spot, at the foot of the Chilterns. At Lower Cadsden is a very pretty cottage residence situated in its own lawn and pleasure grounds, which are shaded at the back by a fine beech plantation. This delightfully rural spot, called Cadsden Cottage, is the property and occasional residence of Thomas Hookham, Esq.

Meadle contains four farm and several cottage residences.

Oulswick or Owlswick was formerly a chapelry in the Monks Risborough. The hamlet is small and lies two miles from the church, at the western extremity of the parish. In the year 1389 the place is called the Manor of Ulneswyk;” and in 1617, the “Manor of Owleswicke,” in documents referred to by Lipscomb. The Chapel was desecrated and destroyed in the civil wars, and there are no remains left of it.

White-leaf or White-cliffe is another small hamlet delightfully situated at the foot of one of the Chilterns, and at the base of the great Cross referred to; and the hamlet is distant about three-quarters of a mile south-east from the parish church. The area of White-leaf Cross is about two acres; and it is kept clear from grass and weeds by the Trustees of G. H. Cameron, Esq., the Lord of the Manor.

About thirty years ago a vast number of bodies were found near here, buried only a short depth from the surface. Each body had a separate grave, and all were laid due east and west.

Green Hailey and Redland End are likewise places in this parish.


The village of Monks Risborough derives its name from the scrub or 'hris', which once covered the hills, and the prefix from the Monks of Dorchester on Thames to whom the land was given in 993 AD by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in repayment of a loan.

Ninety years previously this estate, then known as East Risborough, had its boundaries outlined in a Saxon Charter. Many of these boundary hedges exist today, notably the Black Hedge which stretches from Waldridge, in the valley, to a point on the Lower Icknield Way. Recently it has been studied by a group of naturalists, who conclude that it had already been growing for 200 years before it was mentioned in the charter of 903 AD.

The old village is built in a rough rectangle at the foot of the Chilterns. Some of the cottages date from the 16th century, and to the joy of artists and photographers, many are still thatched. Among them is the old saddler's house where skins were tanned for working. The straight walk down the garden was used for stretching and twisting ropes, and the present owner still remembers, in her youth, helping with the stuffing of pillows for traditional lace making.

A pathway alongside one of the cottages leads to the 12th century church, dedicated to St Dunstan. Above the outer door of the porch is portrayed a pair of blacksmith's tongs converging on a face roughly carved in wood, illustrating how St Dunstan was reputed to have overcome the devil. This story is also reflected in a lead and fibreglass sculpture, complete with genuine Irish tinker-tongs, on the south aisle wall, made by a local sculptor in 1971.

Beyond the church, in a field which is now a children's playing field, there is a square stone dovecot, whose existence gave rise to the popular legend that an Abbey once stood here, but no evidence has been found to substantiate this.
In the Domesday Book there is a record of a watermill at Monks Risborough; and now, though the water-wheel has long since disappeared and the millponds are filled, a millhouse still exists on the site where the original mill must once have stood.

The parish boundaries enclose four other villages; Whiteleaf, Askett, Meadle and Cadsden. Whiteleaf, or Whitecliff, contains several Tudor cottages and straggles along a metalled stretch of the Upper Icknield Way. Its name derives from the cliffrlike appearance of the large cross cut in the chalk face of the escarpment. The first mention of this cross seems to have been made in the early 19th century in one of the Enclosure Acts, when it was referred to as 'This Ancient Landmark'.
Near the village centre is the Whitecross hall which forms a link between all five villages. It was erected in 1924 by the Monks Risborough W.I. on land given to them by a local property owner.

Cherry pie feast is an annual celebration at the Plough Inn in Lower Cadsden. It was first established to commemorate the death of John Hampden, who lived not far away, and died of his wounds at Thame in 1643, during the Civil War.
For the rest; the villagers entertain themselves, or are entertained at a variety of fetes, rummage sales, classes, bazaars and socials; or simply by walking over the valley and hills along the beautiful footpaths, with which Monks Risborough is so bountifully provided.

Meadle is now a hamlet home mainly to commuters who want to enjoy the countryside. There are several old cottages, some thatched by a local man, in an area which was a thriving farming community. Aylesbury ducks were bred for sale in the London markets.

Long ago Meadle was associated with the Quakers when a Friends Meeting Place was established in the 15 th century known as the House of John White.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission


Monks Risborough Parish (Pop. 1,018)

One Daily School, in which 20 males are instructed at the expense of their parents;

About 60 females are also taught lace-making in three or four small Schools kept by women.

Two Sunday Schools, appertaining to Baptists (commenced 1826 and 1827), wherein 63 males and 70 females receive gratuitous instruction.