We are in Chalfont St Giles as the main street rises from the village green and heads towards Seer Green, Beaconsfield, Jordans and Gerrard’s Cross. Welcome to what has been called Britain’s Most Desireable Village (by Channel 5) and one of the most expensive places to buy a house in the country (by anybody who has looked in the estate agents’ windows). But even here, real life and death, continues.
Chalfont St Giles is in the Domesday Book although unlike neighbouring Chalfont St Peter it doesn’t put this on the sign as you drive in, instead preferring to tell you that it is twinned with Graft De Rijp. They do not mention, and would thank you not to, that Chalfont St Giles is cockney rhyming slang for piles.
John Milton finished Paradise Lost here. His cottage is about a hundred yards away from this spot. Peep Show has been filmed here and technically Ozzy Osborne lives here although my research (google) suggests his estate is sadly not down a village side street but one of the many huge high-walled homes to be found in direction of the outlying hamlets and hidden from view.
The sign asking for no parking is actually on a bus stop but there are only a dozen buses that pass through the village in a day: half going to Uxbridge and the other half making the return trip to Beaconsfield. If you really need a bus you’ll have go wander down to the main A413 which splits the village in two (although on the side with the green they may not regard the other side as being properly in Chalfont St Giles). There’s no station but the village is in line to benefit from the massive earth moving experience that will be the £32bn high speed line from London to Birmingham after which it still won’t have a station but there will be some new tunnels for trains to roar along.
The funeral was about to take place in the church. That is the Parish Church of Chalfont St Giles. This dates back, in part, to the 12th century, has some rather splendid frescoes from the 14th century and is about as soaked in Christian history as a smallish out-of-the-wayish church could reasonably expect to be. St Giles himself was a seventh century Greek hermit and there are contradictory accounts as to what his actual actions worthy of sainthood are.
He is the Patron Saint of Cripples and of Breastfeeding.