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What's on offer in High Wycombe

PUBLISHED: 11:53 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:53 17 July 2017

The town sits surrounded by rolling countryside. This view is looking towards High Wycombe from West Wycombe Hill (Photo: Peter O’'Connor, flickr.com)

The town sits surrounded by rolling countryside. This view is looking towards High Wycombe from West Wycombe Hill (Photo: Peter O''Connor, flickr.com)

Archant

Why not visit the market town - you can even have a shot at ladies' clay pigeon shooting,

Every town has its ups and downs, but in High Wycombe perhaps the most noticeable one is the geography. Here’s a quirk: while Wycombe’s name starts with ‘High’, it’s actually in a valley surrounded by hills, one of the loftiest points of which is the adjoining village of Downley, high up in the Chiltern Hills, above the main town.

And when it comes to those ups and downs, the years have seen a particular icon do just that – the wooden Red Lion statue, various forms of which have imperiously looked down on passing shoppers in the High Street for some 200 years. The latest incarnation is once again looking spruce from its portico, unveiled on St George’s Day after months of expert restoration by master carver Colin Mantripp of the Lillyfee Woodcarving Studio in nearby Wooburn Green.

It’s all the result of a fundraising campaign by High Wycombe Society and local paper The Bucks Free Press, which saw some £10,000 collected to restore the lion to its former grandeur and provide funds for future maintenance, overseen by The Wycombe Heritage and Arts Trust. The statue once stood above the entrance to the Red Lion Hotel and over the years it has stood on a portico at what was the Woolworth store doors. Before that both Disraeli and later Churchill had chosen to make election speeches from the vantage point at the lion’s side to huge crowds.

What may well be the first lion now has a proud spot in Wycombe Museum; the one we see today in the High Street was placed there in the 1950s, and has had to weather some storms over the years, and not just hail, rain and snow pouring down from above. The Red Lion Hotel was sold in 1961 and the lion was removed until a return in 1966, perhaps for the best as a lorry crashed into the remaining portico in the meantime, demolishing it.

Eventually the lion ended up welcoming people to Woolworths, but the big storm of January 1990 saw the lion knocked off its stand and smashed into pieces. This was the first time Colin Mantripp put it back together. Since that repair, vandals broke off part of the tail, and then students left it with broken legs and a shattered tail early this century.

Just four years ago the once again broken tail was reattached with tape. Now the lion is back in all its glory – so we add a roar of approval for the High Wycombe people who made it happen.

By all means see the lion, but Wycombe is a delight for shopping, as well as the High Street and surrounding streets there is the lure of The Eden Centre, with a great mix of top brands such as Swarovski, including the Jean Paul Gaultier collaboration, House of Fraser, Kiko Milano (beauty), Jones Bootmaker, Monsoon, Superdry and Zara. It provides a feast of eateries, including Bill’s, and entertainment including the Hollywood Bowl and Cineworld.

For special events and offers see edenshopping.co.uk.

Anyone for Polo?

You might not instantly associate the Wycombe area with this sport, but West Wycombe Park Polo Club has played low goal polo at West Wycombe Park for more than 20 years, both in summer and winter. They hold tournaments from April summer until September, and play midweek, evenings and weekends, often taking on similar clubs.

Visitors are welcome to come and watch – it’s a great spot for a picnic – and if you’ve wondered about getting into polo this is a very friendly and low-cost route, plus there’s the social side. Even those who couldn’t ride have started this way, courtesy of club coaches.

See westwycombepolo.co.uk

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