Megalomania and madness – and I don’t mean Trump

I ended up in West Wycombe on two successive weekends, almost by accident especially the first time. It is next to High Wycombe which is respectable and rather dull, albeit the jumping off point for the Timber Research and Development Association. But West Wycombe – well that is another matter. The home of the Dashwood family, it has this wonderful church set on a hill

I ended up in West Wycombe on two successive weekends, almost by accident especially the first time. It is next to High Wycombe which is respectable and rather dull, albeit the jumping off point for the Timber Research and Development Association. But West Wycombe – well that is another matter. The home of the Dashwood family, it has this wonderful church set on a hill

with a Venice-inspired golden ball on the top, like that on the Dogana. The second time I went I was able to get inside as it was a Sunday morning, and that is pretty special too, supposedly inspired by the Temple of the Sun in Palmyra.

The notorious Hellfire Club apparently met in the tower of the church, but more frequently in the nearby caves, originally excavated for road stone, and with their very own Lethe. When I visited they were all decked out impressively for Halloween.

And next to the church is the ginormous Dashwood mausoleum, a vast octagonal structure with classical urns and statuary. 

This is a family that certainly didn’t want to be forgotten.

There is a house as well, although that is closed in the winter. And to add to the atmosphere, this part of the Chilterns has red kites constantly wheeling overhead.

That golden ball though, was not as shiny as it could have been. So I was amused to see a much more polished one at the Three Pigeons, the Oxford Branch of Lassco. 

Note also the little golden balls below, as well as one of the numerous Brutalist planters for sale. It is quite something to visit a ‘shop’ where you can buy bits of the old Westminster Bridge. The golden balls come from Sea Containers House, recently refurbished back into a hotel after a spell as an office. 

Maybe, if the world is going to hell in a handcart, we can bolster our spirits if not our economy with a bit of good old English eccentricity – spiced with a touch of insanity and debauchery.

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