Name double-ups are a common thing in London and its surrounds. From Rainham in both Kent and Havering to Hayes in Bromley and Hillingdon, there are plenty of duplicates in and around the city.
One commuter village in leafy Buckinghamshire boasts the same name as a South London town and despite a difference in spelling, the pronunciation is identical. West Wycombe is famed for its manor house and bucolic rolling hills, meanwhile West Wickham in Bromley and bordering Croydon is a hub of suburbanisation.
Their matching names are nothing to go off in terms of comparison points, with West Wycombe boasting distinct characteristics that sets it worlds apart. The village, which is home to around 1,300 people, is emblazoned in history with the majority of the area owned by the National Trust.
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Visitors flock here to admire the picturesque landscapes, chocolate-box homes and the magical Hellfire caves which lay above the settlement. In the village itself, the high street is lined with 16th-century cottages and shops with much of the original brick and flint construction still visible to passers-by.
West Wickham, meanwhile, has plenty going for it with a busy high street and more relaxed vibe than busier surrounding areas like Croydon, plus it’s surrounded by countryside and is dotted with commons and nice walking routes. But West Wickham is much like many modern town centre, with familiar shop brands surrounded by roads full of houses built mostly from the 1930s onwards.
Thanks to its good transport links and, of course, the fact it has a London postcode, you’ll pay a lot more to live in West Wickham than you will its namesake north of London. Houses in West Wycombe come at a reasonable price, with the average home fetching just short of £395,000 over the last year according to Rightmove. Meanwhile, homes in West Wickham went for around £666,000.
What does West Wycombe have to offer?
As the halfway point between London and Oxford, the High Street was home to many coaching inns that watered the weary during the 1700s. The George and Dragon was one of these and still offers a pint and a meal today.
There are plenty of other points of interest dotted around, including West Wycombe Park. One of the most lavish surviving examples of 18th-century landscape gardens, the serene greenery is marked by several ornamental temples and water features to explore.
A canary-yellow mansion, home to the Dashwood family, sits in the gardens. Its Italianate effect was to resemble a Roman villa, with its elaborate design an indication of the area’s unique grandeur. At the top of the village you’ll notice the Dashwood Mausoleum, a structure commemorating members of the Dashwood family. Finally, the Hellfire caves are perhaps the most famous pull to the town, with the network of chalk tunnels renowned for its Pagan connections.
Francis Dashwood had the ancient caves excavated and cut into a stunning chalk cave interior that could host his Hellfire Club meetings. The gentlemen who met there would engage in Pagan practices, worshipping Roman gods and sacrificing hogs to them, as well as hosting illicit sex parties and mock rituals.
The caves can now be toured, if you’re brave enough to make the venture. Although West Wycombe doesn’t have much in the way of shops, it’s just a few miles from the better known High Wycombe which has a shopping centre full of household favourites.
How to get there
By car, the drive will take you around 1 hour and 10 minutes. It takes an average of 40 minute to travel from London to High Wycombe by train, and then is a short 5 minute taxi journey to West Wycombe.
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