April 21, 2020
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April 21, 2020

Chalk, Cherries & Chairs

Interested in local history and learning new skills? You could be a part of some remarkable heritage projects, working to uncover the hidden stories of the industries and people which shaped the Chilterns. Chalk, Cherries and Chairs – a new scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund –encourages local people in the Central Chilterns to volunteer in conserving the wildlife and documenting the heritage of this lovely region. Eighteen interweaving projects will run over the next five years. Find out more at


Three of the heritage projects have already begun.


Woodlanders’ Lives and Landscapes

The Chilterns are a beautiful landscape of beechwoods and picturesque villages. But for more than two centuries they were also a busy industrial landscape, alive with furniture making, straw plaiting for the hat industry, lace making and beading. It can sound idyllic – strong local communities, working outdoors, gathering dandelions for homemade wine – but people could work long hours for little pay. If you are interested in investigating the daily life of these workers, you might like to join the Woodlanders project.


Routes to the Past

The Chiltern Hills are criss-crossed by a network of winding, steep-sided lanes bounded by ancient hedgerows and trees. These local routes joined up communities and linked them with their commons, fields and woods. But despite their fundamental nature, these routeways have often been neglected and face threats from erosion, development and environmental change. This project records the stories of these historic routeways, helping to increase their visibility and save them for future generations.


The Mystery of Grim’s Ditch

The impressive ancient earthwork known as Grim’s Ditch stretches across the Chilterns between Bradenham and Berkhamsted. But how old is it? And what was it built for? Volunteers can participate in archaeological fieldwork and research, helping to solve these mysteries.


If you would like to join a volunteering group there are lots of ways to get involved: looking into the history of villages or crafts or families; interviewing local people; walking the old routes; writing local stories; or giving talks and tours. Contact Helena Chance, 1494 522141 ext 4105, for more information about Woodlanders Lives and Sam Johansen for Routes to the Past and Grims Ditch.

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