Cut Throat Wood gained its sinister name from the highwaymen who used the wood to ambush slow carriages passing through the area in 17th century. Beaconsfield was used as a resting stop between London and Oxford as well as by travellers venturing into the West Country so there was no shortage of affluent through-traffic. Many travellers used small, quiet lanes passing by pubs to avoid the fees attached to larger roads and these dangerous short-cuts were where robbers and thieves would strike. Dick Turpin and Claude Du Vall lodged at The Royal English Standard in Beaconsfield, and many of their robberies were likely to have been based in the adjacent Cut Throat Wood.
Claude Du Vall was a famous French highwayman who came to England as a footman when Charles II was restored to the throne. He travelled through Beaconsfield, famously robbing an old rich farmer of hundred pounds in the Crown Inn, staging a dramatic robbery as a diversion before fleeing back to London. Claude was highly likely to have used Cut Throat Wood, robbing stagecoaches on their way to London. He was executed in Tyburn on Friday 21st January 1670 at the age of twenty-seven, although many great ladies petitioned to have him pardoned due to his charming gentlemanly behaviour.
Cut Throat Wood was not only used by highwaymen - its fertile soils provided wood for many timber products, with a speciality in handles. In addition to this wood being steeped in history, it also is part of Holtspur Bank Local Nature Reserve. Cut Throat Wood harbours many different species from lichens to birds, including a variety of different trees such as ash, beech, hawthorn, hornbeam, oak, hazel, white beam and cherry, all of which provide an excellent environment for wildlife including the edible dormouse.
Sign up for our email newsletter to ensure you never miss out on news about the Chilterns, just enter your email address below.
Don’t forget, you can always follow us on our social media channels