Halton Village

History of Halton

Halton is a small village and civil parish in the Aylesbury Vale district of Buckinghamshire, England, located about 2 miles north of Wendover and 5 miles southeast of Aylesbury. It lies just outside the Metropolitan Green Belt so it has not been protected from postwar housing development. At its southern end it is contiguous with Wendover, but it retains a separate, older village centre anchored by St Michael & All Angels Church and a community hall. There is a separate, modern Catholic Church. The Parish also includes RAF Halton, a Royal Air Force (RAF) training station with a grass airfield used for glider training. Most modern housing in the village was built for RAF personnel, but some is now in private hands. A small shop mainly serves the RAF community. The base had a large military hospital employing hundreds of people, which was closed in 1995. The buildings remained until 2007/8 when they were demolished for the Princess Mary Gate housing scheme on land between Halton and Wendover.

RAF Halton

Royal Air Force Halton has a long tradition and

fine reputation as a training unit. It also has

an illustrious history. The following merely

outlines the salient points of the latter. Those

seeking deeper knowledge of the station’s history

should visit the Trenchard Museum at

Henderson parade ground which contains several impressive displays of Halton’s past. There is also an archive containing the records, both paper and in digital form, of all former Halton Apprentices, and hundreds of photographs covering the Rothschilds era to the present day.

The Trenchard Museum is open to the public every Tuesday from 10 to 4pm. Other days can be arranged on request. To visit, first make contact with the curators on 01296 624095 or trenchard63@btinternet.com


In September 1913, the owner of the Halton Estate, Alfred de Rothschild, invited the Army to use his land for its summer manoeuvres. The soldiers were joined by

No 3 Squadron RFC with a handful of frail machines. The

first recorded flight at Halton was on 18 September

when one of the squadron's aircraft landed on the area

known today as Maitland parade square. (Unfortunately

the aircraft type was not recorded but was probably a

Henry Farman or a Bleriot). On the outbreak of WW1,

Alfred offered his estate to Lord Kitchener for military

training. By 1916, Halton was covered in tents and wooden huts accommodating up to 20,000 infantry troops. Many of these young men were to die on the Western Front. In 1917 there was a pressing need to expand technical training in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and Halton became the main training unit for aircraft mechanics. Permanent workshops were constructed to house the RFCs many trade specialities now named The School of Technical Training (Men). The School population expanded rapidly and, by the end

of 1917 despite its spartan facilities, some 14,000 air mechanics had been trained. At the end of the war In November 1918 the station had under training 6000 airmen mechanics, 2000 women, and 2000 boys at a Boys Training Depot, all supported by 1,700 instructors. An Australian Flying Corps unit also lodged at Halton. Training courses varied in length between a few weeks and a few months.

On Alfred de Rothschild’s death in January 1918, his nephew Lionel inherited Halton House and it’s lands. The Air Board were keen to purchase the estate as an officer cadet college for the nacent Royal Air Force which had been formed on 1 April from an amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Fortunately, Lionel was a willing seller and the estate including Halton House was purchased by the War Office in 1919 for £112,000. The was about a quarter of the probate value of the estate; clearly a bargain for the War Office. (now MOD).

Following the end of WW1, Trenchard’s vision of a permanent RAF was published in a now famous memorandum which was endorsed by Winston Churchill, the Secretary of State for Air, in December 1919. An RAF Apprentice Scheme based at Halton, was a key recommendation in the paper. Trenchard believed that the only way to recruit high quality mechanics for the ever-more technical Service was to train them internally. At the heart of his vision was the recruitment of well educated boys between the ages of 15 and 16 who, because of their resourcefulness and intelligence, could rapidly absorb the necessary

technical training , and thereby complete their apprenticeship in 3 years, instead of the standard 5 years in civilian life. The first Entry of some 500 boys arrived in January 1922 to be accommodated in permanent

buildings erected especially for the school now named No 1 School of Technical Training. Trenchard envisaged ex -apprentices going on to form almost 40% of the RAF’s groundcrew and more than 60% of it’s skilled tradesmen. An important added benefit was that such training would foster a spirit in the RAF on which so much was to depend in the future. After 73 distinguished years during which 40,000 boys were trained, the Halton ApprenticeScheme ended, leaving a legacy of excellence in aircraft engineering acknowledged worldwide. This international recognition brought boys from many old commonwealth and foreign countries to Halton to serve apprenticeships before returning to help establish their own

national air forces.The achievements of former Halton apprentices, both within and without the Service are legion. In recognition of its outstanding contribution to the country in peace and war, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 awarded Her Colour to the School in July 1952. As this Colour was received from Her Majesty by a Sergeant Apprentice, it is unique in being the only Colour which can be carried by an NCO. Moreover, it is the only Colour ever presented to a military youth training school in any of the Armed Services.

During WW2 the School also trained thousands of adult tradesmen and women providing a vast number of the maintenance crews needed during the conflict. And continued adult training throughout the Cold War, and the many other conflicts since 1945 and the present day. Halton has also trained many chefs, cooks and stewards at No 1 School of Cookery, based here for several decades. Last but not least, Halton is famous for it’s hospital opened by Princess Mary in 1927 and to which she graciously gave Her Name. Princess Mary Royal Air Force Hospital has an impressive history in medical science and the development of

innovative surgical procedures.

Today Halton is the Gateway to the Royal Air Force of the 21st Century, and continues to uphold the Trenchard tradition of excellence. It no longer trains aircraft engineers, but the equally important support trades such as administration, catering, and logistics; leadership, management and career development are widely covered in the curriculum. Following in the footsteps of their apprentice predecessors, young recruits both male and female undergo 9 weeks’ basic training before embarking on their trade training. In October 1997. Halton was honoured with a Queen’s Colour in recognition of its outstanding contribution to training over many years.

The Halton spirit, the seeds of which were sown in the Royal Flying Corps, nurtured to maturity by generations of apprentices, is still evident in all activities carried out at Royal Air Force Halton today.

St Michaels Church

Parish Church. 1813 by Henry Rhodes, restored and remodelled 1886-7.

Built from squared blocks of sarsen or greyweather stone, probably fromnear High Wycombe, the joints galletted with pieces of flint. Slate

roofs. Simple lancet style, W. tower, with diagonal W. buttresses, small

stair turret on S. side, door and 2-light window over on W. side, parapet

with broken coping, nave and aisles. S. porch and short chancel. Interior: 4 bay nave, pointed arches with dogtooth ornament on high cylindricalpiers with leaf ornament to capitals and square bases also ornamented.Chancel arch on carved corbel heads, hoodmoulds with circular label stops; roof with curved braces and pendants, cusped spandrels, on angel head corbels. Chancel roof coffered and painted with enriched cornice and 3 bosses.Small pointed arched niches each side of tripel lancet E. window. Brass from former church reset on LH side of chancel. Organ in small W. galleryover 3 arched wood screen. C19 marble font has square fluted bowl on spiral stem and carved base.

The Ghosts of Halton Past


In 1545 in the region of King Henry VIII my husband, Henry Bradshawe bought the manor at Halton from the king, (who had appropriated it during the dissolution of church lands) for 800 marks.  My husband was a successful lawyer who became Chief Baron of the Exchequer shortly before his death in 1553.

We had eight children and were much loved by the people of Halton.  When the eight children had grown up and left home I sold the manor to a family called Fermor who farmed here for over 150 years.  My dear husband, Henry, myself and our eight children are all represented in a brass effigy which can still be seen today at the Parish church here at Halton.



I remember when the Great Plague of 1665 reached Wendover and Halton.  A wandering dog was said to have carried it from here to Ellesborough where the Rector died of it.  It was a terrible thing and after my mother died from it I went to help them up at the Pest House in Beechwood lane.

Those who showed signs of the Plague made their way to the house to be looked after in isolation.  Many were too far gone by the time they came to us and all we could do, that's Mrs Withers and me, was to try to give them some comfort during their final days.

Mrs Withers and myself struggled for nigh on seven months 'til I came down wi' it and finaly gave in to it in the late spring of 1666.  I was placed in the Plague pit along with all the other poor souls who died from it.



I inherited the Halton Estate from my father, in 1793.  It was a quiet sheep-raising and arable estate of 1,500 acres with pretty stone cottages and thatched roofs, leafy lanes and beautiful beechwoods which provided me with welcome revenue when i sold the wood to the navy yards at Chatham.

unfortunately, this rural peace was shattered in 1794 when the proprietors of the Grand Junction Canal Company began to create a feeder branch through from Wendover to Marsworth, to supply water to the Tring Summit.  When the filth, chaos and destruction of the landscape, including that of the millstream and mill began to overwhelm the place, I bitterly regretted having given my permission for the work to go ahead, through my land.

However, in 1797 it was finally complete and I must say that financially I did rather wellout of the project, having sold several freeholds along its path through Halton and also having gained a large amount in compensation!

One event I remember well took place around Christmas in 1799.  Farmer Westcar of Creslow, shipped an ox to the Smithfield Christmas show along the length of the canal and this pioneered the transport of cattle by water.  This method meant that no fat was lost en-route.  The beast weighed 241 stone, took first prize and sold for a princely sum of £100.

I died at Halton in my 84th year and my son sold the estate to the Rothschild family, the richest banking family in Europe.



Halton is very dear to me.  I had some splendid times here.  After my father left the estate to me in 1880, with a derelict manor house, I was determined to build one of the finest country houses in England.  I modelled it on the french chateau with touches of Italian palaces as well as elements drawn from classical and eastern architecture.  I was very proud of the mansion.

Everyone who was anyone came to stay and that included the Prince of Wales, Lord kitchener and one of my favourites, Lily Langtrey.  We would leave London on my private train and travel to Tring or Wendover where my carriage would meet us and drive us up to Halton. Once on the estate, we would travel up the sweeping drive and espy the strutting peacocks.

I pride myself with having one of the first houses in the land to be powered by electricity.  Mine was also only the second local house to install central heating.

Our weekends were wonderful affairs with much hilarity, magnificent food and witty company.  On beautiful summer evenings we would take carriage up into the woods and have a picnic at the Swiss Chalet which has a wonderful view over the Vale of Aylesbury.

On cold winter afternoons we would all wrap up warm and go skating on the outside skating rink, to return to the house for warming punch and music from my own little orchestra which I would conduct myself.

Over the years I extended the Halton Estate so that it eventually contained 57 cottages, nine farms with fields, woodlands and coverts.  I built a school for the children of my tenants and staff and demanded to be told of their birthdays so that I could give them a little present.

Most of the children followed their parents into employment on the estate.  I was keen to keep my estate workers healthy and employed a doctor to attend the village regularly.

As the threat of war loomed,  I was eager to be of assistance to the army and i offered my great friend, Lord Kitchener the use of the estate for the infantry and soon the place was bustling with tents and various temporary buildings.  I also offeren my magnificent beeches for use as props in the waterlogged threnches of Europe.  Sadly many of my estate workers joined up and the estate succumbed to general neglect with undergrowth running riot, gardens neglected and boundaries undefined.

I never held any more house parties after my great friend Lord Kitchener died, I lost interest in life and died in January 1918.  My nephew Lionel was left the house but was not interested in it, principally because the chalk soil would not grow his beloved rhododendrons!  So he sold it for the nominal sum of £112,000 to the fledging Royal Air Force.



On June 16th, 1895 I married George Herbert, the fith Earl of Carnarvon at st Margaret's Chapel, Westminster.  My father was unable to give me away because his identity was unknown by the public at large.  It was only after his death and his will was published that he and I became linked as father and daughter.

He was indeed Lord Alfred de Rothschild and was his most generous gifts of his London home together with over one million pounds that enabled me to finance my husbands last and most famous expedition to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt wher, in november 1922 my husband, together with his friend and colleague Howard Carter, unveiled the fabulous treasures of King Tutankamun.

Despite the magnificence of the finds and the sheer excitement expressed by the participants, the curse of the tomb fell on my dear husband and before the expedition was over he had succumbed to a mosquito bite which proved fatal.


Over several months, anxious and labourious preparations have been made for the Halton Industrial Exhibition. The exhibition is to take place in the grounds of the old Dashwood Mansion. The original idea of Lady de Rothschild has been to collect specimens of

industry of the parish of Halton especially in the straw plaiting

and lace making trades but by almost necessity the interest

shown by the local population, some 195 of us in the village,

has widened the catchment to 20 miles from Halton and

includes 50 parishes.  Some four acres of Halton Park have

been taken over by the marquees to accomodate 3000

exhibitors. Our straw plaiting for bonnets, boxes and baskets

and hand made lace are to be prominent.  Excitement

abounds as specimins are made and collected for dispay.  A

competition has been sponsored by Lady Louise to encourage local

carpenters and builders to incorporate new building designs in

cottages.  Scale sized models are being submitted with their full size

specifications and the winning design is to be built to order in the


An Unprecedented Event at Halton as Seen Through the Eyes of Ellen Gambell, Resident in Lower Farm, Halton Village

It is highly to the credit of Lady de Rothschild that this enlarged form to the exhibition has not lost its local interest.  There is scarcely an object to be exhibited by any of the family as belonging to them.  People seem surprised how many handicrafts at their own doors, of which they were scarcely aware.  Such an enterprise is unheard of outside large cities.  Indeed, it has created a national a national interest and is to be opened by the Prime MInister, Benjamin Disraeli.  Who can believe this is happening in tiny Halton.



The exhibition opened promptly and the day beautifully fine with a very large crowd, far exceeding expectations, had gathered before the opening times.  Nobody went in free.  OnMonday the entry fee was 2 shillings.  5000 people attended, mainly dignitaries and the local gentry and well-to-do.

The opening ceremony took place upon the steps of the mansion.  There were many distinguished guests at the opening ceremony including 11 of the Rothschild family, several Lords and Ladies, Smuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford and too many local clergy to mention.  A guard of honour was provided around the steps by the 4th Bucks volunteers.  The band of the Grenadier Guards was present and played in the centre of the grounds.  Children from the local schools at Aston Clinton and Halton were represented on the steps and sang a song of joyous greeting.  Then the big moment came with Mr Disraeli's speech and he was given a vociferous cheer.

"My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am afraid my words will sound very flat after the sweet voices we have just had so much gratification in listening to.  But I obey the command of the Lord of the Manor in addressing you for a moment before we witness the exhibition of industry of our Vale and its neighbourhood.  For a long time it has been considered that the good old County of Buckingham has only produced butter, beer and barley - three excellent things produced in this County in excellent style, but the fact is that we have for a very long time been producing many other things for which we have had no credit.  Today we are about to attempt to vindicate our reputation and I think when you accompany directly to witness the exhibition of the industry, not of this parish only, as it was first intended in its very modest and primitive idea, but of 50n contiguous parishes that have contributed the results of their ingenuity, you will be astonished at some of the products and proud of the land that has produced them".


Mr Disraeli went on to say that our Bucks products were able to compete with the colonies and the rest of the World much to our amazement.



Fine arts were located in the front rooms of the mansion including paintings and pencil drawings by amateur artists. The photographs of Mr S G Payne of Aylesbury attracted much interest and enthusiasm since we had not seen photographs before. There were specimens of ancient typography with old books and newspapers and even a copy of the Bucks Herald printed on satin. There was a Bible dated 1611 which was found in a moat, a cap worn by Lord Nelson as an infant exhibited by Miss Eagles of Walton Terrace, Aylesbury and examples of wood turning and carving.

Outside the principal tent was a handsome fountain embedded in ornamental rockwork decorated with a profusion of beautiful flowers. The water was supplied by the Chiltern Hills Spring Water Company.

The manufacture of Bread and Butter was to be found in the Principal Tent together with specimens of ales, home-made wines and liqueurs, confectionery, jam and similar examples of our domestic economy.

The Parish of Halton was represented in the adjoining tent. There was a case of live silkworms exhibited by Hannah Coles of Halton with samples of silk produced from them. We were so proud of our straw plaiting and baskets, hats, slippers and fancy articles of all descriptions were displayed in great profusion. There were quilts of every kind and price from 50 guineas downwards. One, made from fragments of soldiers’ clothes, which had taken 20 years to make.  There were specimens of saddlery and harness of great credit to those who made them. Emerging from the tents gave one a feeling of something like relief as we were filled with wonder at the range of exhibits.

The most important part of the exhibition was that of the model cottages competition.

The interest which the propietors of Aston Clinton

and halton estates have taken in the dwellings of their

 labourers is evident even to the passer by and for the

first time has been one of the prominent objectives

of the exhibition.  The only gold medal awarded was in

this class.  The gold medal was awarded to Mr A Mayne

of Aylesbury for two of his models.  He produced a pair of

cottages at a cost of £225 to build and a cottage for

an aged couple on one floor at a cost of £90.





It is with such pride that our beloved young Emily received

a bronze medal for butter making.  We were so proud.

Our village took other prizes too with Hannah Coles for silk

and silk worms. Hannah received a silver medal and £1;

Mary Baron received a bronze medal for wild flowers; T Burtt

received a silver medal for a literary composition and Charles

Billington received a bronze medal for stuffed moles. We were

surprised not to receive a prize for our excellent lace work in

the village.


It should be stated that many of the exhibitors who had been

awarded a medal, declined to receive the award not wishing to

stand in the way of their humble neighbour. The medals

showed the Rothschild cipher, the letter R reversed,

enclosed in a wreath, surmounted by a ribbon bearing the title

– ‘Halton and Aston Clinton Industrial Exhibition 1868’.

Below came the Rothschild motto ‘Concordia, Industria,

Integritas’. The reverse had a wreath of laurel enclosing a swan, the crest of the Vale of Aylesbury. Our Emily promises to keep her medal very safe.


The medals were distributed on the steps of the mansion House on Friday at 2.0 p.m. We all clapped so loudly for our Emily as she collected her medal. The band then struck up ‘God Save the Queen’ and there were three cheers for Sir Anthony and Lady de Rothschild. We were so proud of our labours. As Disraeli said in his final speech ‘You have seen ladies and gentlemen what English working people can do’.


Sylvia Oram

Lower Farm 2015