West Wycombe House at risk from high-speed rail link?

West Wycombe House

Concerns have been raised that the proposed route of the £34bn Network Rail project to provide a high-speed link to Scotland will severely compromise many areas of natural beauty and a large number of listed buildings including the setting of the Grade-I listed West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire.

The main problem lies in the fact that to achieve high speeds, the 1,500 miles of railway lines would need to be laid in the most direct line between two locations.  This would mean that the line would simply carve through the landscape, destroying areas of Special Scientific Interest and unspoilt countryside in the heart of the Chilterns such as the Misbourne valley.

One proposal of particular concern is to build tunnels beneath High Wycombe but the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) fear that the tunnel would surface near the historic village of West Wycombe – threatening the  stunning setting of the architecturally important West Wycombe House.  The Italianate-style house with it’s rococo gardens were built by Sir Francis Dashwood – of Hellfire Club fame – over a period of 60 years from 1740. The defining exterior feature is the rare double colonnade (see picture) which was certainly inspired by Palladio’s work in Italy such as the Palazzo Chiericati which Dashwood would have seen on his Grand Tour.  Further Palladian and neo-Classical flourishes in both the house and parkland make this house worthy of protection from crude spoilation by the planners.

More details: ‘High speed rail line will blight Chilterns‘ [Chilterns AONB]

4 thoughts on “West Wycombe House at risk from high-speed rail link?

  1. Osomec April 14, 2010 / 02:22

    I’m a country house lover, but we need new railway lines. There is no “unspoilt countryside” in England, all our landscapes are manmade, and the criteria for “special” scientific interest is absurdly low, it just means there are a few bugs or something.

  2. Andrew December 21, 2010 / 12:31

    Thanks, Bicou. But now the planned rail tracks cut through the rear landscape of Edgcote House in Oxfordshire, on the north-eastern side of its lake and new tree-lined waterway vista which are unlisted. Edgcote House is Grade I listed and was built in 1748-54 for Richard Chauncy, a wealthy London merchant, by architect William Jones, and featured in the 1995 BBC mini-series Pride and Prejudice as Netherfield Park. The house and 1,700 acres were
    sold in 2005 by Christopher Courage, owned by the brewing family since 1926, for £30m to David Allen of Bourne Leisure Holdings, the caravan park operator, with Allen earlier this year publishing a small book, Edgcote: Building an Eighteenth Century Country House, written by Sally Strutt, the historian at Edgcote House since 2006. Lets see if Allen challenges the track locations or just starts building a large embankment and planting more trees in his back garden.

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