The story of the (great) old Beech on the Great Missenden Road, dates back to the 14th century and is a tale of knights and royal justice.
According to the legend, the then King Edward III and his son, also an Edward, known as the Black Prince, had been to stay at the Hampden Estate and argued with one of the sons of the Hampden family whilst out walking, over the outcome of a game of tennis. The Legend says that, under the tree, the two royals punished the boy for his behaviour by removing some of the family's lands, a quarrel that is now remembered in rhyme:
Tring, Wing and Ivinghoe
Hampden of Hampden did foregoe
For striking of ye Prince a blow,
And glad he might escape it so.
How true this story is is hard to say, but the punishment given in the rhyme is probably false as the Hampden family never owned Wing, Ivinghoe or Tring, but the spot may well be the sight of an ancient royal argument, perhaps settled less heavy-handedly!
The King’s Beech was marked on OS maps from 1822 to 1965. To see the entry on the 1883 map yourself go to the Old Maps website and search for the King's Beech with the coordinates 487026, 202018.
Unfortunatley, nothing remains of this tree which may have once marked the far boundary of the Hampden Estate.
The King's Beech no longer exists
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