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Welcome to the West Wycombe Village Project Blog written by a National Trust volunteer and supported by the National Trust. If it's your first visit, find out more about the project in our about section.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Spirit of Place

Adams Park Community Art Project.
This week I was at the home of the Wycombe Wasps for a lunch to thank National Trust staff and volunteers like me. But there aren't many like me. I'm a young, upstart. I watched general manager Jim Foy give award pins to quite a few long serving members including a couple who have volunteered their time for 30 years. Diane and Martin Gordon have served the Trust in many ways and most recently in the Hughenden bookshop which turned over a few extra thousand pounds more profit this year.
National Trust event at Adams Park. 
To a large audience of volunteers, regional staff and national trust consultants, Jim said West Wycombe Village is an example of a place which his regional team alone can't mend.  "We need the support of the wider Trust to restore this village for generations to come and to clear the 20-plus year backlog of repairs".

There was also a general progress report on visitor numbers and survey results for Hughenden, West Wycombe Park and the Central Chilterns.

Both Hughenden and West Wycombe Park reversed a two year decline in visitor numbers. Hughenden saw 95,000 visitors while West Wycombe Park almost broke its all time record with more than 19,000 visitors last year.

Social media feedback and online sources like Tripadvisor add to a rosy picture for the visitor experience. Click here for the page about West Wycombe and here for the page about Hughenden which is ranked #1 of 17 attractions in High Wycombe on Tripadvisor. It was also nice to see the George & Dragon rated with a thumbs up. 

And apparently volunteers are happier too with the majority now saying they would recommend volunteering to a friend, compared with previous years when only a minority would spread the word.

If this interests you then c
ome along on the 15th March when the National Trust hosts an open day for volunteers and prospective volunteers.

We also heard the financial story with improved income streams from grants, catering/ retail and village income. A source called "home-grown" money grew strongly. West Wycombe Park did exceptionally well with its raffle ticket sales and per visitor ranked 2nd in the region for raffle ticket sales.

The guest speaker was Matthew Oates of the Nature and Wildlife experience. He described "Spirit of Place" which is a term I've only come to know through the National Trust.

Matthew started by asking: what is your favourite place and why?

He mentioned places such as Goring on Thame, Arnside Knott, Selborne and Wicken Fen. All places with a distinct spirit of place. Each place he said had a "Statement of significance" and an audience insight. But in a nutshell they are all places with important and emotive stories of their own.
Wicken Fens photo. Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

So what is West Wycombe Village's spirit of place? It's statement of significance? Having written this blog for nearly a year this is my wild guess.

It's one of England's only living, breathing and fully working ancient villages dating back to the 14th century. It's a village that's never taken a pause to reflect about age and antiquity. It's just had to get on with it and muscle on under the weight of centuries, good and bad modern developments and increased traffic through the Chilterns.

Look for sources online and on site for more information about the Volunteer open day on 15th March at Hughenden Manor.

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