Whiteleaf Golf Course

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Golf Course with Clubhouse & Professional’s Caravan beyond
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Whiteleaf House

Whiteleaf is home to Whiteleaf Golf Club and Monks Risborough Cricket Club, both of which lie slightly South-East of the Main Road through the Village, which follows the path of the Upper Icknield Way.  The Golf Club was Founded Circa 1907 on land originally donated by Mary Phillips, wife of Major Herbert Percy Davies Phillips of Whiteleaf House.  LionBrewerySaleNotice

 

Thomas Rogers Parsons, the Owner and Manager of the “Lion Brewery” (which was in Princes Risborough on Market Square) was the owner of Whiteleaf House. The local Whiteleaf Pub was known as the Red Lion and likely named after the Brewery’s Trade Logo.  After his death, the House along with the Brewery passed to his son Thomas.  The house became even better known for its activity with functions for all Social Classes taking place in the Grounds.

The 2nd Spirit Store and Beer Store was Paved with Denner Hill Stones.  In places Ancient Rivers had cemented sand grains and pebbles with the chalk they had picked up, creating under the pressure of 100s of feet of clay, super-hard boulders or Sarsens, known locally as MarketSq&LionBrewery1900Denner Hill Stone, from the site of one of the main aggregations of these stones, that were excavated, sometimes from many metres down, and worked into pavement slabs and building stone that survives still in the pavements of Windsor and Town Halls in Wycombe and Aylesbury.  Such boulders, no longer of economic use, can be seen in many places around Prestwood (eg on the opposite side of the track passing Andlows Farm and on Prestwood Common).  Some of the boulders, instead of being solely sand-grains cemented together, include whole pebbles.  When broken these boulders show a beautiful pattern and are known as “Puddingstone”.  These are also quite common and some can be seen among the other Stones by Andlows Farm.  DennerHillStonesThere are few exposures of this Rock Band, although there are many old Quarries along it where it was once excavated for Building purposes (particularly for Barn Floors where it was durable but also permeable to allow animal urine to drain away).  One of these Quarries at Stony Green used to have a “classic” exposure of this Band of Rock.   Swallow-holes occur most commonly in the hard limestones but similar phenomena occasionally manifest themselves in the Chalk Regions.  They occur where underground water has worn Channels through the Chalk and the chalk above them has gradually weathered away, suddenly giving way so that the overlaying Clay falls into a huge hole.  These -holes can be differentiated from Quarries by the fact that their sides are steep all the way around, i.e. there is no graded access to Cart out excavated material.  A good example can be seen near the North edge of Atkins Wood.  The large depression known as Cockpit Hole in Great Kingshill may also have had its origin in this way, as it is too deep and steep-sided to have ever been useful as a Pond, and (contrary to legend) was never used as Pit for Cock-fighting.

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Whiteleaf House with considerable other Properties and Ground was sold in 1903 to Herbert Percy Davies Phillips of Gwerthoner in Glamorgan.  In 1903 the House “with Grounds, Lawns, Paddocks, Stabling & Farmery” comprised an area of about 14 acres out of the total for the whole Estate of approx. 50 acres.  Phillips brought his own Family and Staff to Whiteleaf Village to manage the House and Grounds.

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Lion Brewery Entrance Site which had a Red Terra Cotta Lion above the Archway

WhiteleafEstate1919Whiteleaf House passed to Phillips’ daughter Mary Guinevere Davies Way (nee Phillips) in October 1917.  In 1919 it was sold to George Macdonald Brown, who subsequently sold it in the same year to William Joseph Ennever, the Founder of the Pelham Institute a Working Men’s Club in Kemptown, Brighton.  When the House and Estate (which by this time had grown to approx. 70 acres) were put up for Auction again in 1919, Ennever decided to retain the House and the Golf course, whilst disposing of the remainder.  He then sold the House to Lillie Edwardina Renison in September 1922.  By 1924 Miss Maud R Taylor JP had acquired the Property and she retained possession until it was sold again in 1948.

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Rear of the Golf Club 1904

I loved being there as a child but it concerns me now how they managed to run the place and bring up 3 children. There was only the one Living Room and the Scullery and Aunty Madge (Lizzies Sister) used to do all the washing in that sort of Hut up the garden (right).  She always had the most awful chilblains in the winter.  It was a very hard life.  Gran (Lizzie Ashby) used to cook lovely cakes for the Golfers Teas on that old (I think, wood-burning oven).   I used to go up in the woods wooding with Aunty Madge, dragging fallen branches back for the fire. I used to have to sleep in Aunty Madge’s bed with her and had a big china pot under the bed! Oh dear. I often think of those times!  – Elizabeth Mills

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A Club Steward takes a Walk
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Locals Tee-off  for the 1st Green with Pro’ Golfer Rawliegh’s Caravan at the Entrance Gate

Steeped in History and Tradition, Whiteleaf Golf Club has an attractive Clubhouse originating from a short Row of 14thC dwellings that included a Bodger’s Cottage.  The Club was set up in 1907 as a 6-hole Course by Mrs Mary Phillips, a fine Sportswoman, and Wife of Major Herbert Percy Davies Phillips of Whiteleaf House. She donated the Land and “Clubhouse” as is evidenced by the following extract from a Meeting was held at Whiteleaf House, on Friday, 16th August 1907, several Ladies & Gentlemen belonging to the neighbourhood assembling with the object of inaugurating a Golf Club, on the ground recently laid out by Mr Phillips close to the Village.  Mr Phillips took the Chair and amongst those also present were. Mr Coningsby Disraeli, Rev  Blamire Brown, Dr J T Bell, Dr & Mrs Watson, Mrs Phillips, the Misses Phillips, Messrs H B Aubrey, B Fieldwick, H Birrell & L S Wint.  Several letters, expressing regret, at not being able to be present, were read from, amongst others, Rev A K Hobart-Hampden, Mr Birrel (Thame), Miss Clay & the Rev J W Cruikshank.

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Rustic Accommodation & Clubhouse with its Old Thatch & the Changing Facility on the Right

It was decided to form the Club and that the annual Subscription should be 1 Guinea for all joining within 2 months, after which 1 Guinea Entrance Fee to be paid in addition.  Mr Phillips was elected President & Mr Bernard Fieldwick Hon Secretary and Treasurer.  After the Meeting, most of those present inspected the Course and more particularly the cosy little Clubhouse which Mrs Phillips has furnished so tastefully.  Mr Coningsby Disraeli then launched the Club by driving the 1st Ball, his stroke being, by the way, a very good one.  The Clubhouse was to be under the supervision of Mrs Paxton.

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Club House re-Thatched and Changing Room by the 1st Tee

The Clubhouse was originally a short row of 14thC dwellings, which included a Bodgers Cottage, and has been extended & updated.  The Access Road (Golf Club Lane) was concreted in 1937, which allowed Members “to drive in comfort to the Clubhouse without having to combat skids & wheel spins on the steep gradients.”

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Club House & Steward’s Accommodation

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The small Building to the rear of the Changing Room was the Professionals Shop. Rawleigh Hamer used to run it

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The Course
Tucked neatly behind Whiteleaf Cross and overlooked by Pulpit Hill with its Ancient Hill Fort.    The Course underwent Major changes to its Design soon after the end of the WW1 and was extended to 9-holes after the acquisition of additional Land and soon engaged in 1925 a 10 Guinea Consultation for the Design Services of Henry Shapland

Harry’  Colt, theHarryColt renowned Golf Course Architect of that Era; whom many describe as the Founder of Golf Course Architecture in the British Isles.  Colt had a clear design philosophy. At the macro-level, one can expect his courses to possess a meticulously thought-out routing – a critical precondition for creating memorable holes.  At the micro-level – the Golf Hole itself – he favoured sand-faced Bunkering (for visibility) and an asymmetrical arrangement of Hazards.  Colt tended not to build Wild Greens.  “The majority of Players,” he wrote, “desire to hole out in 2 putts on each green if they are putting well.  They desire to experience some little difficulty in doing so because otherwise, they would derive no pleasure from success.  Therefore a perfectly flat Green would not satisfy them.  On the other hand, when they have avoided the Bunkers of the Fairway…and have played their ball on to the Putting Green, they do not like to find it is lying in a severe form of Hazard.”  The Englishman’s consistency has had a beneficial effect on the longevity of his work.  “If something looks strange or out of place on a Colt Course, it’s been changed,” says Frank Pont, a Dutch Architect who has restored several of the Master’s European Designs.

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Club House in the background & Weather Boarded Changing Room in the foreground

Golf obviously existed before Harry Colt came along, but it was then a Game of straight lines & sharp angles.  He softened those lines, introduced curves and long before the Art of Pacing Courses came into being, he created visual challenges to tease & intrigue the Golfer.  Above all, he was the 1st to appreciate how Golf could be a delightful walk through beautiful Vistas, perfectly illustrated at Whiteleaf.

Colt principally concentrated his efforts in the UK and by the time he had finished he had left his marks.  At the Seaside he gave us Royal Lytham & St Annes, Royal Portrush, Co Sligo and much of the Character & current layout of the Honourable Company’s Pride & Joy at Muirfield.  Inland we have those jewels of the Surrey & Berkshire sand belt, the New Course at Sunningdale, Swinley Forest & Wentworth, plus many others throughout the Home Counties.

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Golfers on the 9th Green with the 7th Fairway in the Background c.1951

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A Round with Rawleigh Hamer the Club Professional giving Golf Lessons on a One to One Basis

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Rawleigh’s Tyro Tees off for No.6 Green
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Rawleigh advises his Tyro on the Art of Putting
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6th & 9th Greens
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Harry Ashby’s copy of local Sculptress Maureen Margaret Coatmans Portrait Head of himself

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Superbly modelled Portrait Head of Club Greenkeeper & Steward Harry Ashby which graced the Club House for many a year while Harry lived there.  The Sculpture went along with Harry to his old Care Home at  Berryfield Road, off the Princes Risborough Road from High Wycombe.  It is no longer there as they moved to a new building some years ago.  Alas, when Harry passed away his revered Sculpted facsimile went AWOL – claimed to be in Bronze but may have been a Painted Plaster Cast.

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Long-serving Steward Harry oft seen waistcoated with Watch & Chain and pint in hand was minuted on 22nd September 1928 as being permitted to graze a Cow in the adjacent Paddock – no doubt for a ready supply of fresh Milk & or making Butter.

The Artist Mrs Maureen Coatman modelled it from life and she lived in Beech Cottage, Askett Lane, Askett (Nr the Three Crowns Pub);  She exhibited the Portrait Head at the Royal Academy in 1965 and she also created a famous Bronze Head of the Racehorse Red Rum

StDunstanSculpture.jpgMaureen Margaret Coatman 1919-2005

Sculptress in various materials, born in Woking, Surrey.  She attended Sherborne School for Girls and gained her Art Tuition privately with William Thomas Wood RAC and Sculpture with Enid Fenton Smith.  Another example of her work can be seen in Monks Risborough Church – of St Dunstan, himself a skilled Metal Worker (after whom the Church was named) and Taming the Devil. He became Archbishop of Canterbury in 960AD and was made a Saint in 1029. There is an old story that St Dunstan won a fight with the Devil, pinching his nose with a pair of Blacksmith’s Tongs. The Devil is Evil in the World and St Dunstan represents Good, so this fight is for Supremacy.  The Sculpture, mounted on the wall near the Porch is made from Lead & Fibreglass. It was made in 1971 by Artist & Sculptress Maureen M Coatman who lived in Askett.
St Dunstan, as the story goes
Once pull’d the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar
That he was heard 3 miles or more
St Dunstan, whose skill as a Smith is familiar to all, is known to have been Instrumental in Hanging, if not in Casting Bells; and as Archbishop at Canterbury, he gave careful directions for their correct use.

CartoonRawleighHamerCartoon by Dundonian & Aeronautical Draughtsman Sydney Jordan dated 1950 of Rawleigh Hamer who also hailed from the North and was Resident Professional at Whiteleaf Golf Club while living in his Trailer Caravan by the Entrance Gate due to the lack of available Accommodation.

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Miss Peggy Ashby  in ‘Slacks‘ – 3rd from Right

In June 1949, 7 Ladies including Miss Peggy Ashby, Harry’s Golfing daughter posed outside the Club House Entrance with the younger 5 of them wearing the new post-War dress mode of Trouser ‘Slacks’.   Northener & Golf Professional Rawleigh Hamer courted Peggy (4th Right) and they were soon married and they moved in 1966 to Peterborough as a result of his new found responsibilities.