Famous Personalities of the Chilterns: Exploring Local Legends

Roald Dahl Painting

From celebrated authors to influential politicians, the Chilterns have been a haven for creative minds throughout history. Join us as we delve into the lives of four famous personalities who have left an indelible mark on this captivating region.

Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

The Master Storyteller: Lived and worked in Great Missenden, Roald Dahl is one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time. With classics like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda,” his imaginative tales continue to captivate readers of all ages. Dahl moved to Missenden in 1954 with actress wife Patricia Neal. The Chilterns and its villagers served as inspiration for many of his children’s stories, particularly Fantastic Mr Fox and Danny the Champion of the World. At one time the Dahl’s had an antique shop on the High Street and Roald was often seen at the station heading up to London. Today you can visit the Museum in Great Missenden, walk up the lane past his former home Gipsy Cottage and visit the grave at St Peter and St Pauls church

John Milton (1608-1674)

Poetic Genius: An iconic figure in English literature, John Milton fled the outbreak of plague in London for the sanctuary of a modest cottage in Chalfont St Giles. Though only residing at Milton’s Cottage for two years from 1665 it was here in the Chilterns that he completed his most famous poem “Paradise Lost”, a literary masterpiece, showcasing his profound talent and poetic brilliance. Today visitors are welcome at the Cottage which has been preserved as a museum.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Political Luminary: Hughenden Manor in High Wycombe served as the country retreat for Benjamin Disraeli, a prominent Victorian-era statesman and author. As the UK’s Prime Minister, Disraeli played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s destiny. Hughenden Manor is now owned by the National Trust and is open to visitors.

John Hampden (1595-1643)

Champion of Civil Liberties: High Wycombe is also associated with John Hampden, a notable political figure during the 17th-century English Civil War. Hampden’s courageous stand against unjust taxation made him a symbol of individual liberty and laid the foundation for modern democracy. Discover the monument to John Hampden just outside Prestwood along Honor End Land overlooking the Hampden Valley.