Beautiful England - photos of England and the UK

Ewelme

Ewelme is an unspoilt village in the Chiltern Hills. It is built on three south-facing terraces of a fold in the hills. At the top is the Church of St. Mary, which contains the tomb of Alice Chaucer, the Granddaughter of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. When she died in 1475, she had become, by marriage, the Duchess of Suffolk. Her husband, the Earl of Suffolk, moved to Ewelme when he married her and built the church, the almshouses and the school. In the churchyard, is the grave of Jerome K. Jerome, the author of, 'Three Men in a Boat', who lived in Ewleme in the 1880s.

Steps lead from the church to the middle terrace, where the cloistered almshouses face inwards to form a quadrangle. In the middle is a well with a cast iron wheel. The almshouses are occupied by thirteen elderly people, as specified by Henry VI in his foundation deed.

On the lower terrace is the school, which is now Ewelme Primary School and is probably the oldest in England, still being in its original building.

The rest of the village consists of cottages from later periods. The Manor House was a country residence for Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Henry VIII and Catherine Howard spent their honeymoon there in 1540.

A spring rises in the centre of the village and becomes the Ewelme Brook, which flows westward alongside the main street on to Benson, the next village and eventually, to the River Thames. This chalk stream fostered a once thriving watercress industry, but this ceased in 1988. The area, extending to six and a half acres, is now a nature reserve.