- Explore the beautiful and historic West Wycombe Village.
- Climb West Wycombe Hill for views across the Chiltern Hills and to discover the site of an Iron Age hillfort.
- Enjoy a picnic next to the lake, with a view of West Wycombe House.
- Take in the unusual Palladian-style architecture, which was very fashionable in the 18th century.
Located in Buckinghamshire, close to the picturesque village of West Wycombe, the aptly named West Wycombe Park is a Grade I listed building, with fascinating architecture and captivating surroundings. Within the grounds, the gardens of West Wycombe Park are filled with 18th-century follies, walkways and water features, giving your family day out a peaceful yet historical backdrop. Famous as a filming location for the 1986 film ‘Labyrinth’ starring David Bowie, see if you can spot the bridge in West Wycombe Gardens that features in the opening shot. Downton Abbey fans might also recognise West Wycombe Park as many of the interiors, as well as the lake and gardens, are used as locations within the show.
Built by Francis Dashwood, a politician and baronet, in the 18th century, West Wycombe house is known for its Italianate, dramatic style, with Palladian and Baroque influences. As you walk around the grounds, you will notice several Palladian-style structures, such as the south front on the grounds which is supported by four large Corinthian columns. The Greek and Italian influences are what makes West Wycombe unique, and if you take a walk in the gardens, you will be transported back to the mid-18th century when these architectural trends were at the height of fashion. Sir Francis Dashwood himself was known for his flamboyant and sometimes scandalous behaviour and was known to throw outrageous parties with elaborate fancy-dress themes. He also established the famous Hellfire Club, or ‘Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe’.This mock-religious gentlemen’s club was known for all kinds of debauchery and met in the West Wycombe Caves beneath the village.
While the estate is still owned and used as a residence by the Dashwood family, West Wycombe Park, Village and Hill were passed to National Trust Buckinghamshire in the early 20th century. The current building was constructed in the 1800's, but previous to this, there was a manor at West Wycombe for hundreds of years previously; it even features in the Domesday Book.
With 45 acres of parkland to explore, as well as the nearby West Wycombe Village and Hill, a trip to West Wycombe Park is a great way to get the family out and about. The village is home to lots of hidden gems, including caves, a mausoleum, and lots of cafes and gift shops. It’s safe to say the village of West Wycombe is filled with history. There has been some variation of a village here for over 1000 years, and while it has taken many forms, some of the current buildings date back to the 1500s. Since West Wycombe Village lies on the road from Oxford to London, this would have been a popular coach stop. Therefore the village was once very busy, and towards the end of the 18th century. It was home to over a dozen pubs and alehouses. The two churches, St. Paul’s Church in the village and St. Lawrence on the Hill, are both worth a visit, and daredevils can even take a journey underground at The Hellfire Caves on Church Lane.
Once you’ve wandered around the village, take a walk up West Wycombe Hill to the impressive Dashwood Mausoleum. Here, you can see the final resting place of members of the Dashwood family. The site of the hill dates back to the Iron Age when there was a settlement here. We recommend taking a picnic or takeaway bite from the village and enjoying the view of the countryside. Kids will have a fantastic time spotting all the different types of wildlife that live on and near the hill. From butterflies to rabbits, there are plenty of creatures who call West Wycombe Hill home.
Learn more about the history of the village and the surrounding landscape, on the West Wycombe Trail, a one mile long gentle walk, that will take you around the village, with options to pop into shops, cafes, West Wycombe Park and even a stop at the Mausoleum on the Hill.
If you loved spending time in West Wycombe Park’s formal gardens, why not plan your next trip to the famous (and impressive) Audley End House and Gardens? Or, if you fancy something a little more metropolitan, head to London’s city centre to picnic in the heart of the capital at Green Park.
What to know before you go
- You can find parking in the village off Chorley Road and Church Lane. There is mobility parking next to the house.
- The building itself has wheelchair access, as well as a Braille guide and large print guide.
- The grounds themselves are buggy-friendly and suitable for wheelchair users. West Wycombe Hill, however, is steep with some uneven terrain so care should be taken.
- Public toilets are available in West Wycombe Village.
- Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a short leash.
- West Wycombe Village is two miles west of High Wycombe and is easy to reach via the A40.
- The nearest train and bus stops are in High Wycombe.
- There are lots of local cycle routes and walks if you choose to visit on foot or by bike.
- There is a National Trust Car Park on West Wycombe Hill, and parking is free.