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  • GrahamC

A Treasure Trove of History - the story of a village community

Updated: Dec 22, 2019

From its medieval origins to the present day, the village of Denham has a history rich in the spirit of community. Now today’s technology provides an opportunity to record and preserve that spirit and make it accessible. Using a wealth of archive material combined with stories of village residents, the Denham Community History Project is establishing this website devoted to the village’s social history.

The village has no shortage of researchers into its history. In 1904, the Reverend R H Lathbury published a remarkable chronological account of Denham’s history extending back to the time of King Edward the Confessor in the 11th century. Since then many local residents, fascinated by the delights of the village, have put together their collections of stories, photographs and records. Some have gone into print, some have turned to Facebook, some are still working on their archives. All are immensely valuable. The Community History Project intends to provide a forum for them all.

The project’s own collection is to be made up not as a chronological account of events in the village, but rather of stories of its residents of the long and recent past, their homes, their relationships, their working lives and their community.

And of course there will be tales through the years of the Denham Fayre which has long been a major spring attraction to thousands of visitors from South Buckinghamshire and the west of London.

For several weeks now we’ve been talking to villagers with long memories about how things used to be in the second half of the twentieth century.

Already we have a wealth of information and recollections to be uploaded to the website over the coming months. There is a treasure trove of stories both to delight and fascinate, stories which include those of local residents offering cottage bed and board to film stars of the 1930s working at Denham Film Studios, MPs and peers shopping alongside local farmworkers in the village butchers and grocers, the village doctor’s surgery in the front room of his house whilst his grandsons and their friends explored the nooks and crannies of the local woods, field and streams.

We’ve also been making plans for the future about how all this will work. For the next few months we’ll be involving visitors to the website in the project’s development by posting a blog on the first Monday of the month explaining what we’ve been working on and the people we’ve been talking to together with an outline plan of what we’ll be up to next. For some months we’ll take a theme, maybe the History of the Denham Fayre, or the Village in World War II, and we’ll welcome comments and contributions. We’ll be making podcasts accessible from the site giving voice to the blog posts and then, a little later, with villagers telling something of their stories in person.

We’ll be backing this work up with pointers on an “Updates and Queries” page on the website and with messages and posts on the social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. So be sure to “like”, “share” and “follow” to keep up with progress. Especially watch out for updates on what you can expect to find when you find us on a stall at the Village Fayre next May.

Then when we’ve gathered enough tales of the village’s social history and assembled the results of our research into the more distant past, we’ll expand the website and relaunch it with lots of information about the village, its people and its places. And we’ll starting talking about using material from the website to publish books and pamphlets, offer advertising to local businesses and other initiatives to ensure the project’s long term sustainability.

This project is about community history for the community. We want it to be “inclusive”.

It has started with just three of us, but already others are getting involved. We want it to be a comfortable, open place where stories can be shared and enjoyed, where we can all learn from the past around us, preserve the best of it, welcome the changes that enhance it and find new friends as we talk about it.

For more information about the project or to discuss making a contribution, email and add your details to our mailing list.

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