In 1929 West Wycombe village was put up for sale by the Dashwood family to raise cash following that year's Wall Street Crash. It was bought in its entirety by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (better known as the Royal Society of Arts, or simply the RSA) as part of the Society's "Campaign for the Preservation of Ancient Cottages".
Image courtesy West Wycombe Village Project Blog.
In 1934, after extensive repairs, the Society handed the property over to the National Trust. The National Trust markets this property under the name 'West Wycombe Village and Hill'. The property features many buildings of architectural value which were built between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Between 1906 and 1958 the village was served by West Wycombe railway station, to the east of the village, on the Chiltern Main Line between London and Birmingham. During this time, Sir John Dashwood (1896 - 1966), obviously needing to raise funds, let out some of the rooms as "Apartments". Not much is known about the enterprise except for this leaflet which has recently come to light. View Leaflet (PDF).
In the late 1940s and early 1950s the caves underwent extensive repairs under the auspices of the Dashwood family and turned into a tourist attraction. The profit earned was used to renovate the dilapidated West Wycombe Park. The caves continue to thrive as a popular tourist attraction today and have received over 2 million visitors since their reopening in 1951.
In 1953 a programme of events was organised for the whole Parish to celebrate the Coronation. Under the Chairmanship of Sir Francis Dashwood, a committee, which included Col. L.K.Watson MBE who was in charge of "festivities", organised a week long programme of activities.
We are grateful to Cathy Rance for kindly donating the Coronation Programme.
It should be noted in the programme that it was hoped sufficient funds would be raised to start to build the Village Hall.
The village and West Wycombe Park have been used as a location for numerous films, most notably The Duchess, The Importance of Being Earnest, I Capture the Castle and Dead Man's Folly. The BBC TV adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel Cranford was partly filmed at West Wycombe Park, along with TV series Inspector Morse. The Mausoleum was used as the set of a Roman town in an episode of the BBC Children's show Chucklevision and was used as a location in the biblical fantasy scenes for A Clockwork Orange.
The caves have also been visited by paranormal TV shows Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters.
an mh-p website