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Assessing the historic impact of HS2 - Year Two


No response to the society's response to the HS2 Public Consultation, submitted in July 2011, was received. The government decision to go ahead with HS2, however, received wide coverage in the media.

Some changes were made to the route of the line, but these were of mixed benefit for the county's historic assets. At Twyford, for instance, the line was moved northwards by around 120 metres – sufficient to perhaps avoid damage to the manorial earthworks but not to protect the village from intrusion.

Bucks County Council produced a ‘Baseline Environmental Audit for the High Speed Rail 2 Route through Buckinghamshire’ which included a new set of maps showing the amended route and the buildings, sites and landscapes that will be affected.

A re-alignment at Stoke Mandeville, however, would now take HS2 through the ruins of the old parish church of St Mary the Virgin, its graveyard and what remains of the Saxon, Norman and medieval village recorded in Domesday Book.

The government announced that the next phase of HS2 would be an Environmental Impact Assessment. The work to coordinate this was given to ARUP construction engineers, though actual work on any historic buildings or archaeological sites that stand in the way of HS2 would be done by specialist archaeological investigation teams. Cotswold Archaeology were appointed to assess the impact in Buckinghamshire and neighbouring counties.

Stoke Mandeville's old parish chuurch in the fields in 1830
A MAP OF 1830 showing the old parish church of Stoke Mandeville isolated in the fields to the south of the village.


The Society's HS2 Impact Assessment project reconvened with a workshop held in Aylesbury on 3 March 2012 to review changes to the route and to discuss what members can do to help protect the historic buildings and archaeological sites that will be affected. The workshop concluded that:

  • Listed buildings and archaeological sites will automatically be on the government's EIA list. The BAS HS2 project will need to identify buildings and sites that are not listed but historically important, and get them on to the assessment list.
  • Known buildings along the route are:
    • Stoke Mandeville old church, and surrounding village (pre-Norman and medieval)
    • Twyford manorial site (medieval)
    • Wendover Dean's Road Farm (C18?) and Durham Farm (age unknown)
    • Hyde Lane cottages (C18/19) and Ellesborough Road cottages, Wendover (C19?)
    • Glebe House, Hartwell (C18?)
    • Whitethorn Farm, Stoke Mandeville (age unknown)
    • Buildings and earthworks at Doddershall
    • ...and there will be others.
  • Engineering camps, storage depots and access roads could do as much damage to the historic environment as the line itself. Areas affected need to be identified.

The workshop decided that the project's initial focus should be on Stoke Mandeville's deserted village site, a clear historic asset which is not ‘on the radar’ through listing or registration. Other sites would be surveyed where resources – in other words members of the Society – were available.


For details of the five surveys and reports carried out during 2012, see:

Copies of all survey reports, outlining the damage likely to the historic environment by the construction of HS2 and recommending action to minimise this, were sent to Cotswold Archaeology for inclusion in the HS2 Envisonmental Impact Assessment.


Contact was also made with other local bodies – parish councils, local history societies, amenity societies, and societies in neighbouring counties – which would also be concerned to protect historic buildings and archaeological sites. The Society also responded to all opportunities for public consultation offered by HS2 Limited.

The texts of recent letters are available here:
download article Letter to Buckinghamshire's MPs / February 2012
download article Letter to Parish Councils / March 2012
download article Response to the HS2 Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Consultation
/ May 2012

The society also took part in some meetings of the six 'HS2 Community Forums' for Buckinghamshire, which met every two months during 2012 to define and register local concerns over the details of the HS2 plans.