A former High Wycombe pub has been revealed as the second oldest standing building in the town after a major investigation – and plans are now afoot to “breathe new life into it”.

Number 2 and 3 High Street is perhaps best known as the former Wheatsheaf Inn pub but is now split into two shops.

And while there was no doubt the building was old, an investigation by the Buckinghamshire Historic Buildings Trust – who took over the lease of the former pub from Wycombe District Council in 2017 -and the High Wycombe Society has revealed just how old.

Through dendrochronology – a scientific technique to date tree rings to the exact year they were formed – researchers have discovered the building was constructed in 1399.

This makes it the oldest standing building in High Wycombe, second only to the All Saints Parish Church.

The Buckinghamshire Historic Buildings Trust and the High Wycombe Society decided to launch a competition and visitors to the recent Pann Mill open day made their guesses about how old the building was – and the winner has now been announced.

Out of more than 100 entries, Mary Woodman came the closest to the correct answer with her guess of 1374 – and has won a bottle of champagne and a guided tour of the historic building.

James Moir, chair of the Buckinghamshire Historic Buildings Trust, said: ‘We had a great response and received over 100 entries, thanks in part to the High Wycombe Society who promoted the competition at their recent Pann Mill Open Day, and to Wycombe Sound who further boosted awareness on “Radio Day”.

“It is remarkable the timber-framed building is still standing after 600 years. The Trust is looking forward to breathing new life into it after a number of years of neglect.”

Jackie Kay, chairman of the High Wycombe Society, added: “The competition has been a great way of engaging people in conversation about the town’s history and heritage.

“It is important that we conserve this surviving architectural gem in our midst. Many people remember being able to visit the first floor when it was used as a photographic studio, while local historians are familiar with its previous role as the Wheatsheaf Inn, but some of its earlier history is yet to be discovered.”