A Guide to Princes Risborough – Part I

12 Jul

The town where I grew up often gets a bad press from neighboring villages, but it’s not all bad.

Princes Risborough is a small town and civil parish within the Wycombe district in Buckinghamshire England and is situated at the foot of the Chiltern Hills. A hotspot for culture, with numerous restaurants and interesting historical sites, the town has become a must-see for all visitors to England.
Originally used as a stop gap for traders travelling to and from Cambridge and Winchester, the town has seen a vast increase in the number of people visiting in recent years – some of whom choose not to leave. This is why the town is so popular.

The Market Square – Seen by most residents as the epicenter of the town, the Market Square not only provides valuable shelter from the rain, but also confuses first time visitors – part of an ‘in-joke’ amongst residents. There is a clock face on each side of the Market Square’s ‘spire’, but amusingly, the time is never correct! It is thought that the idea was dreamed up nearly 15 years ago by a member of the local council, known to be a bit of a prankster, and the joke has carried on to the present day. What makes the joke even more hilarious is the fact that the Market Square doubles as a bus stop, with the timetable showing the ‘correct’ times. Of an evening, irate adults can be seen chasing after buses down towards the Tesco roundabout, shaking their fists angrily in the air as they do so, having fallen foul to the ‘Wrong Time Clock Joke’ (as it’s known locally). A good place to watch this event is from the Whiteleaf Cross Public House situated within crawling distance of the Square.
At Christmas time, the Market Square is adorned with numerous light bulbs, as well as a huge flashing Santa, visible from Coombe Hill, 5 miles away, which illuminate the historical building quite beautifully. Thousands of residents make the pilgrimage to the town center once a year on the coldest, wettest day in December available, to watch the lights being turned on, sometimes by a celebrity (Leslie Grantham being the most famous to date). The sheer effort that goes into decorating the town each year is scarcely matched by Risborough’s neighbouring towns and villages, a fact that leaves locals jubilant and smug.

The Famous Market Square
An illuminated Market Square stands decadently as two comets pass agonisingly close over the top of the town

The Annual Festival – Established in 1996, the Princes Risborough Festival’s main aim is to promote and enhance the profile of Princes Risborough, its clubs, businesses, associations and inhabitants, and to bring a week of entertainment and general enjoyment to all who wish to participate. The festival culminates to the famous street fayre, more about that to follow. Throughout the week prior to the street fayre, a wide range of events are held from music (to suit all tastes, if tastes are ‘middle of the road’) and theatrical entertainment, to local organisations recruitment evenings, factory tours and heritage and natural history walks; all of them being extremely well attended. The Street Fayre is held on the final Saturday afternoon and attracts thousands of people, and it’s not hard to see why.
Musical entertainment provided by up and coming hip bands, as well as more established older bands, fills the Risborough air. If you’re one of the lucky ones to get to the town early enough, you may be able to grab a white plastic chair to sit and watch on. Families mingle around the Market Square to watch the performers, interspersed with pockets of sun burnt men, drinking warm beer out of plastic pint cups, but smiling regardless. Numerous stalls and fairground rides ensure a fun-filled afternoon for all the family, not just the local men who (and don’t tell their partners this!), use the Festival as an excuse to get drunk and partake in mundane conversations about how rubbish the festival is.
It says something about the community spirit in Princes Risborough that the High Street gets closed for at least a day when the street fayre is on, leading to limited parking spaces, yet there has not been one complaint to date. The organisers of the event have helped substantially in solving the parking dilemma when festival day comes around by using the local park as a make-shift car park or advising festival goers to “stick it ‘round the back of the George & Dragon – it should be fine”. The festival is as firmly imprinted on people’s minds weeks after the event, as the dents on the local park caused by the hundreds of cars driving over the soft grass.

Jolly Morris Dancers
Morris Dancers perform a rain dance at the street fayre

Nee-Noor-Nee-Noor
A fire engine rushes to a stall to extinguish burnt sausages and burgers

Restaurants – If you feel peckish when in Princes Risborough, you needn’t worry as there are a vast amount of restaurants which offer a fantastic range of fine cuisine at affordable prices. From the delicately spiced food of the newly opened Radhuni Indian restaurant, to the subtle aromatic fragrance of the food at House Of Spice Indian restaurant or the mouth-watering Indian food at Jaflong, there is sure to be something that you and the family will enjoy. Alternatively, eat as you much as you like and more, at Top Wok, where the Chinese food tastes like all good English Chinese food should. Rivalling Top Wok for the title of ‘Risborough’s Best Chinese Restaurant’ is Golden House. The food taste very similar to that of Top Wok, but can be eaten in the comfort of your own home. It has often been a topic of great debate amongst residents as to which Chinese provides the best food, but it has proved too difficult to split them. If Chinese grub doesn’t tickle your fancy and you prefer Indian food, then the Poppy Seed provides delicious meals with a smile.
There is also an Italian restaurant which offers fresh pasta dishes, pizzas with various toppings and all other stereotypical Italian food stuffs. Rivalling this for authentic food is the Turkish restaurant, ideally situated opposite the Market Square, between two Indian restaurants.

Poppy Seed Inn
The Poppyseed provides delicious food, but bring money as it isn’t really free

In part two of my look at Princes Risborough, I’ll look at the pubs and charity shops, and discuss the influence they have on the town.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: