Page 1 – The Past and Present Growth of Chinnor
Chinnor – Preliminary Report on the Survey and Plan
M.W. Robinson, P.R.I.C.S., M.T.P.I
County Planning Advisor
Park End Street Offices
Chinnor is one of a line of villages and small towns strung out along the Icknield Way as it runs at the foot of the Chiltern Hills. Chinnor Parish contains six distinct settlements: Chinnor itself and Oakley have now virtually coalesced and have grown very rapidly indeed during the past 10 years; Henton, strung along a side-lane, has been the scene of some recent infilling; Wainhill has declined to a handful of cottages on the Chiltern scarp, and Spriggs Holly is a ribbon of modern and period houses with one public house, on the Chiltern Hills; Emmington, once a parish in its own right, is now a group of farmhouses within Chinnor parish.
In mediaeval times, an attempt was made to lay out a town at Chinnor, and the quadrilateral form of the present village probably originated from this. The attempt does not appear to have been a great success; during the Eighteenth Century the majority of Chinnor’s dwellings were still concentrated in the High Street, and several pleasant groups of cottages remain from that time.
In 1801, there were 862 people living in Chinnor, and by the mid nineteenth century there were 1400. The people gained their living from cottage industries as well as from agriculture. Lace-making was an organised domestic craft in 1850, and the Chiltern Beech Woods provided raw materials for furniture-making. Several Victorian style cottage properties are relics of this period, still keeping to the Mediaeval quadrangle.
With the growth of large scale manufacturing in urban areas, the domestic crafts declined, and with them the population of Chinnor; by the 1901 Census, the population was down to 1002. The declined was soon arrested when the Chinnor Cement and Lime Company was established in 1908; the population then remained fairly steady until the motor-car made Chinnor a potential residential area for workers from neighbouring Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire towns. Even then, the growth of population was not particularly great relative to the area of land covered by residential sprawl. Dwellings in fairly large gardens were strung out along the roads, particularly along Lower Icknield Way and Oakley Lane. It was not until 1951 that the population reached a level comparable with that in the mid nineteenth century.
Since the Second World War, development has mainly taken the form of consolidation along existing road frontages, and estate development on backland areas. The estate development did not get under way on a really large scale until the present decade, but once begun it had a phenomenal effect on population growth in Chinnor; between 1951 and 1961, the population had grown at an average of about 30 persons per year. Since 1961, the average growth has been 250 persons per year. The growth of Chinnor in these past few years has moved outside any relationship with the village itself. On the fringe of a region where privately-built houses are in great demand, builders have made homes available at relatively low prices; the growth which these actions have caused must be seen in relation to the whole region.