This 'Church in the Park' has it all, from forged Tudor effigies, a hidden wedding ring for use in emergencies, to the only known example of a memorial by a reigning English monarch to a subject.
It may be one of the most famous of all parish churches in England, but this is not to do with its architecture or ancient origins. Rather, it owes its popularity to the eccentric Francis Dashwood, Lord le Despence and owner of nearby West Wycombe Park.
In 1763 Dashwood rebuilt the medieval parish church in the popular classical manner. He removed the arcades, making the nave into a large, open chamber. Almost all the furnishings date from this time. The interior is filled with fantastic frescoes by Italian artists. The most mpressive painting is on the chancel ceiling. Painted by Giovanni Borgnis, who also painted the Great Staircase at West Wycombe Park, this depicts the Last Supper.
The most famous architectural feature of the church is the large golden ball built by Dashwood atop the tower. This ball is hollow, and has seating for 6 people within. Dashwood modelled the ball after a similar one on the custom house in Venice. It is said to have been used by members of the infamous Hell Fire Club, founded by Dashwood.
The oldest feature of the interior is a memorial brass to John Syot (d1475) and there is a grave slab to Richard and Emma East (d1583). There is a monument to Lord Despence himself (d1781) and other members of the Dashwood family.