After several years we are taking another trip along the road to Medmenham as result of three cards received this week (Thank you Peter) and originally part of a set of five in a pretty envelope. I expect the remaining two were used postally for correspondence. I have copied the envelope plus the description on the rear of each card, and I have included a small insert of the sign mentioned above one Abbey doorway ‘Do As You Please’.

The card of the Abbey is not the view from the river side, so I have found one I took myself from the towpath opposite, only accessible on foot. This spectacular building is of course not as old as it might appear and was the 18th Century design of the then-owner Sir Francis Dashwood of notorious Hell Fire Club fame. Also known as the Monks of Medmenham, they were later forced to move their activities to West Wycombe Caves, following furious objections and demonstrations from outraged villagers. I have been fascinated by the West Wycombe Caves story from the time whilst at junior school when I was given a creepy candlelit tour with a neighbour who had been involved in making the caves safe before opening to the public. This was the subject of a previous Nostalgia column a few years ago.

The caves, much improved and made safer, are now a major tourist attraction. I am due for a return visit soon, especially as I recently read in this newspaper that they have now opened a bar! (A nice bit of free publicity there!)

The final two rare sepia cards are prized possessions of mine despite being in very poor shape, and to attempt restoration did not seem appropriate on this occasion. They came to me from Joe Guttridge, whose father was a former ferryman, Medmenham over to the Hurley side. There are other probably unique views of the ferry from Joe that I must get around to printing soon.

The pencilled text on the rear reads as follows “King George V with Queen Mary and Edward Prince Of Wales and Prince Albert crossing by the ferry April 14th 1916. This photo is of His Highness on the Abbey Lawn” and addressed to Mr Guttridge at Abbey Cottages. The writing does not look sufficiently “royal” to be written by the King himself and I wonder if he would refer to himself as “His Highness” ?

Contact Michael at or 01628 486571.