Great Hampden

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Great Hampden
Gt Hampden Church.jpg
St Mary Magdalene, Great Hampden
Grid reference: SP845015
Location: 51°42’22"N, 0°46’41"W
Population: 259  (2001, with Little Hampden)
Post town: Great Missenden
Postcode: HP16
Dialling code: 01494
Local Government
Council: Buckinghamshire

Great Hampden is a village in the heart of the Chilterns, in Buckinghamshire. It may be found about three miles southeast of Princes Risborough.

The name of the village is old English, apparently Hamdenu, meaning "Home Valley". A sister village to Great Hampden, Little Hampden, is found a mile and a half to the north, at the end of a dead-end lane. Hamlets around it in the same parish include Green Hailey, Hampden Bottom and Hampden Row.

Great Hampden is the ancestral home of the Hobart-Hampden family, the most famous of whom was the Civil War hero John Hampden,[1] famous for resisting King Charles's attempt to impose ship money (in the absence of a grant from Parliament) and infamous for leading Parliament's army's against the King later, until he fell in the field.

Parish church

The parish church is St Mary Magdalene.


The villages of Great and Little Hampden may not have existed separately in Anglo-Saxon time, but Great Hampden was there. The manor of Hampden is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Hamdena.[2]

By the 14th century 'Hamdena' was split into the two villages,[2] Great Hampden at the top of one hill and Little Hampden on the next hill, with the lush arable land forming the rest of the two parishes spread out in the valley between them. It was also at about this time that Hampden House, the house belonging to the Hobart-Hampden family was rebuilt.[3]

After the death of John Hampden, a cross was erected just above the lane that leads from Hampden House to the nearby village of Prestwood. Where the cross stands is reputed to be the spot where John Hampden stood when he first refused to pay the Ship Money tax in 1636. However the nearby village of Great Kimble also claims to be the place where he refused to pay the tax. From the cross there is a fine view across the Chiltern Hills.

Cottages in Great Hampden

Hampden himself is buried at the church in Great Hampden, in an unmarked grave. His first wife had a stone tablet in her honour erected in the chancel. In the 19th century the floor below this tablet was lifted and a body exhumed which was missing its hand and had had its shoulder dislocated. Due to the nature of Hampden's death at the Battle of Chalgrove Field near Thame (he died as a result of an injury to his arm and shoulder) this was assumed to be the body of Hampden himself; however this assumption has since been challenged by other historians.

Great Hampden on film

Great Hampden church stands a mile or so from the village. Its isolation made it an attractive location for some scenes in the 1970 film Cromwell. In more modern times Hampden House was used extensively by the Hammer film studios as the perfect gothic backdrop for many of their films.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Great and Little Hampden)


  1. "John Hampden". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Buckinghamshire F-M". The Domesday Book Online. 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  3. Great Hampden