Enid Blyton's Beaconsfield links..

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By The Red Lion Knotty Green | Thursday, February 09, 2012, 20:39

From the Buckinghamshire Advertiser

Feb 9 2012 By Jack Abell

FOR generations of children, names like Noddy, Big Ears, the Famous Five and the Magic Faraway Tree evoke memories of their first experiences of reading.

Enid Blyton is a name that millions of youngsters across the world have known since she started writing her classic tales in the 1930s.

They have come to represent a particular period in British history, when children were free to explore the countryside at will, get into mischief and, of course, drink lashings of ginger beer.

Yet many people are unaware that Enid Blyton lived for most of her adult life in Beaconsfield, in a huge house called Green Hedges. It was there that she wrote the stories that have become part of our culture, synonymous with the idea of being a child in Britain in the 1940s and 50s.

There is little in the town to show that one of the country's most prolific children's authors lived there, especially when it is compared with Great Missenden, which does all it can to promote the life and work of resident Roald Dahl. The memory of Enid Blyton has slowly faded from Beaconsfield's collective memory since her death in 1968.

In 1971, Green Hedges was bulldozed to make way for new houses in what is now called Blyton Close. Since then, little has been done to mark the impact she had on the area.

One of the few places in the town that does try to celebrate Blyton's work is the Red Lion in Knotty Green. The pub is opposite Blyton Close, and it is believed the author called there from time to time with her husband for a drink.

The owners, Bob and Tina Massie, have converted one of the rooms into the Enid Blyton snuggery, filling it with books, toys and pictures associated with the author.

From time to time, Noddy himself (or perhaps Bob in a giant Noddy suit) pops in to take a look around, to the delight of guests.

"We've tried to do as much as we can to promote Enid Blyton here, because she's a really important part of the town's history," said Mr Massie.

"When we first put the snuggery in, we contacted the Enid Blyton Society to ask if anyone could donate any old books that we could put in there, and the response was amazing.

"We were sent so many, and also old Noddy toys and pictures and everything that we could want. It just goes to show how much interest there still is in Enid Blyton and her stories."

The pub is visited on occasion by society members, who stop off the on annual pilgrimages they make to sites around the UK which are important in the author's life.

One of these locations is Bekonscot Model Village, which Blyton visited with her children, and which is credited with giving her the idea for the character of Noddy and his home of Toy Town.

Bekonscot has a miniature model of Green Hedges to pay tribute to the author, but this is one of the few places in Beaconsfield which recognises her.

"I've always been astounded by how little there is here to celebrate Enid Blyton," said Mr Massie. "In her day, she was as big as JK Rowling is now, if not bigger. She certainly wrote more books. When you look at how much there is to do with Roald Dahl in Great Missenden, or Beatrix Potter in the Lake District, it is terrible there isn't more here.

"If she was from America, there would be big signs as you drove into the town, saying Home of Enid Blyton, and statues of her and characters, but here there is nothing. Most people don't even realise that she lived here at first, and it is a real shame."

A quick chat with shoppers on the streets of Beaconsfield reflected this. "I had no idea she was from this town," said Heather Phillips, a 52-year-old mother of two who lives in Chiltern Hills Road. "I've lived here for seven years and I haven't ever seen or heard anything about her.

"I loved her books when I was growing up and I read them to my children when they were small. I'm genuinely surprised to find that out. She must be the most famous person ever to have lived here. It would be a great idea for the town to do more to remember her."

Today, Blyton fans visiting Beaconsfield have to content themselves with a visit to the Red Lion, a trip to Bekonscot, or a quick look around Blyton Close.

l Would you like to see more done to commemorate Enid Blyton and her work? Email our letters page at bucksnews@trinitysouth.co.uk or call 07795 953 387.



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