The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are reported to be taking legal action against the society magazine Tatler for its cover story entitled Catherine The Great.

Perhaps Martin Tett, the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, should do the same.

In the article, an unknown visitor to William and Kate’s Norfolk home describes it as ‘like a gleaming five-star hotel with cushions plumped and candles lit’. And then comes the killer line: ‘It’s very Buckinghamshire.’

Unspoilt beauty: The traditional Buckinghamshire village of Fingest is set among the rolling Chiltern Hills and is a perfect spot for walking

Unspoilt beauty: The traditional Buckinghamshire village of Fingest is set among the rolling Chiltern Hills and is a perfect spot for walking

You can almost hear the groans of estate agents and homeowners up and down that persecuted county. I’m one of the latter. And I’m pretty miffed, too. HS2 is bad enough. Now we have an anonymous posh person from Norfolk sneering at us.

The mock-Tudor and neo-Georgian Buckinghamshire palaces our snooty Norfolkian refers to are pretty gleaming – like the 12-bedroom ‘Tudor-style’ house in Chalfont St Giles now on the market for £8.25million.

But the glitzy, cushions-and-candles Bucks is only a sliver of the southern part of the county. The Pevsner guide of the 1960s says Bucks ‘contains a great variety of natural as well as man-made landscape’ and ‘cuts across the geological strata of the country’.

The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty rises to a high point of 876 ft at Haddington Hill near the Prime Minister’s country house at Chequers. The lookout there gazes over a different landscape: the rolling hills of Aylesbury Vale.

As you head north towards Milton Keynes, the flat Midlands begin. Ah, Milton Keynes. It’s true its major towns are not the best thing about Bucks. But I have a soft spot for the place. Its lakes and cycleways have a liveable, American/Scandinavian feel.

There are many worse places to live in Britain, and for £60,000 to £80,000 there are some terrific one-bedroom apartments to be had. 

It’s a little harder to make a case for Aylesbury and High Wycombe. Despite their wonderful Chilterns backdrop, 20th-century planners left both towns with a legacy of ugly public buildings and cramped housing estates.

They managed things better in the smaller towns. Old Amersham kept its medieval character and fine Georgian buildings; Wendover is the very picture of an English market town, sheltering beneath miles of wooded hills.

On the market…. in easy reach of London 


Nicky Stockley of the Wendover estate agent Tim Russ, says she’s seeing a post-lockdown ‘flood of enquiries’ from Londoners desperate for a garden and a home office. A three-bedroom semi-detached home starts at about £400,000, slightly less in the surrounding countryside.

But for market towns, Country Life (not a magazine for the cushions-and-candles set) chose Old Beaconsfield as the best one in England last year.

Its most celebrated resident was Enid Blyton. In this part of Bucks, you get Blyton’s comforting, Famous Five land of picnics in sunny fields and pretty village streets. Travel further up the A413 and you reach Great Missenden and the more peculiar charm of Roald Dahl country.

I made my own escape to Buckinghamshire from London in 2007, swapping a riverside flat for an idyllic cottage in the village of Cublington. 

The cottage was tucked away down an alley next to a Saxon church. As a Londoner, the lack of a parking space and a tiny garden didn’t bother me.

When I tried to sell during the financial crisis, I found these things did bother people. But I don’t begrudge Cublington my losses. 

You can’t blame them for the collapse of Lehman Brothers. 

It’s a brilliant village with a brilliant pub, and not a place where they spend much time plumping cushions.

I am now in Chartridge, the Chilterns proper. I could rhapsodise all day about the countryside: the wide fields and steep valleys rising to Asheridge; the cool, quiet beechwoods; and bridle paths going across country to The Lee.

The Lee’s celebrated village green was created in the early 1900s by a lace merchant called Arthur Lasenby Liberty. A London department store still bears his name.

But now the sublimely peaceful landscape of Lee Common and Dahl’s old home, Great Missenden, are facing the bulldozers and tunnellers of HS2. The will- they-won’t-they politicking around HS2 has been a decade-long agony for residents, buyers and sellers.

But Bucks people are made of stern and rebellious stuff.

In the early 1970s protesters from Cublington thwarted a government plan to build the third London airport there. The campaign was led by a long-time admirer of Bucks in all its different guises, the poet John Betjeman.

There’s a plaque near the village marking the victory. Betjeman borrowed some words of Henry James: here, it says, is ‘midmost England, unmitigated England’.

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