Buckinghamshire contains no ecclesiastical buildings of the first rank. Monastic remains are scanty, but two former abbeys may be noted. At Medmenham, on the Thames above Marlow, there are fragments, incorporated into a residence, of a Cistercian abbey founded in 1201; which became notorious in the middle of the 18th century as the meeting-place of a convivial club called the "Franciscans" after its founder, Sir Francis Dashwood, afterwards Lord le Despencer (1708-1781), and also known as the "Hell-Fire Club," of which John Wilkes, Bubb Dodington and other political notorieties were members. The motto of the club, fay ce que voudras (do what you will), inscribed on a doorway at the abbey, was borrowed from Rabelais' description of the abbey of Thelema in Gargantua. The remains of the Augustinian Notley Abbey (1162), incorporated with a farm-house, deserve mention rather for their picturesque situation by the river Thame than for their architectural value. Turning to churches, there is workmanship considered to be of pre-Norman date in Wing church, in the neighbourhood of Leighton Buzzard, including a polygonal apse and crypt.
Stewkley church, in the same locality, shows the finest Norman work in the county; the building is almost wholly of the later part of this period, and the ornamentation is very rich. The Early English work of Chetwode and Haddenham churches, both in the west of the county, is noteworthy; especially in the first, which, as it stands, is the eastern part of a priory church of Augustinians (1244). Good specimens of the Decorated style are not wanting, though none is of special note; but the county contains three fine examples of Perpendicular architecture in Eton College chapel and the churches of Maids Moreton to the north, and Hillesden to the south, of Buckingham. Ancient domestic architecture is chiefly confined to a few country houses, of which Chequers Court, dating from the close of the 16th century, is of interest not only from the architectural standpoint but from its beautiful situation high among the Chiltern Hills between Prince's Risborough and Wendover, and from a remarkable collection of relics of Oliver Cromwell, preserved here as a consequence of the marriage, in 1664, of John Russell, a grandson of the Protector, into the family to which the house then belonged.
The manor-house of Hampden, among the hills east of Prince's Risborough, was for many generations the abode of the family of that name, and is still in the possession of descendants of John Hampden, who fell at the battle of Chalgrove in 1643, and is buried in Hampden church. Fine county seats are numerous - there may be mentioned Stowe (Buckingham), formerly the seat of the dukes of Buckingham; Cliveden and Hedsor, two among the many beautifully situated mansions by the bank of the Thames; and Claydon House in the west of the county. Among the Chiltern Hills, also, there are several splendid domains. Associations with eminent men have given a high fame to several towns or villages of Buckinghamshire. Such are the connexion of Beaconsfield with Edmund Waller and Edmund Burke, that of Hughenden near Wycombe with Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, whose father's residence was at Bradenham; of Olney and Stoke Pogis with the poets Cowper and Gray respectively. At Chalfont St Giles a cottage still stands in which Milton completed Paradise Lost and began Paradise Regained. In earlier life he had lived and worked at Horton, near the Thames below Windsor.
The original standard history is the laborious work of G. Lipscomb, History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham (London, 1831-1847). Other works are: Browne Willis, History and Antiquities of the Town, Hundred, and Deanery of Buckingham (London, 1755); D. and S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. i.; R. Gibbs, Buckingham (Aylesbury, 1878-1882); Worthies of Buckingham (Aylesbury, 1886); and Buckingham Miscellany (Aylesbury, 1891); G.S. Roscoe, Buckingham Sketches (London, 1891); P.H. Ditchfield, Memorials of Old Buckinghamshire (London, 1901); Victoria County History, "Buckinghamshire."