CHALFONT-ST. GILES, in the hundred and deanery of Burnham, lies nearly four miles from Amersham, on the road to London, and seven miles from Uxbridge, in Middlesex. The principal manor in this parish is called the Vache, from a family of that name, who possessed it in the reign of Edward I.; it had been before in the Fitz-Alan's. [Footnote: The manor of Chalfont-St. Giles was restored to John Fitz-Alan, by Pat. 51 Hen. III.] A female heir brought it to the noble family of Grey, of Wilton: from them it passed by purchase to the Gardiners, and from the Gardiners to Thomas Fleetwood, treasurer of the mint, who died in 1570. Mr. Noble, in his memoirs of the Cromwell family, says, that this Mr. Fleetwood had 32 children by two wives; supposing the number to be accurate, the writer is mistaken in supposing that James Fleetwood, who died bishop of Worcester in 1683, was one of them; the bishop was grandson of Thomas Fleetwood, being a son of Sir George Fleetwood, who succeded his father at the Vache, which continued in the family for more than a century. Francis Hare, bishop of Chichester, having married the heiress of the Claytons, who were the next proprietors, became possessed of the Vache, where he died in the year 1740, and was buried in the church of Chalfont-St. Giles. The late Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser purchased the Vache of Bishop Hare's representatives, in or about the year 1771, and made it his seat. In 1773 he was created a baronet: on his death, which happened in 1796, the title descended to his great nephew, Hugh Palliser Walter, now Sir Hugh Palliser Palliser bart. The Vache is under the admiral's will, the property of his natural son George Palliser esq.
The baronial family of Wolverton had a manor in this parish, a purparty, or fourth part of which passed by a female heir to the Wakes, in the reign of Edward III.
During the great plague oin 1665, Milton retired to Chalfont, where he finished his admirable poem of Paradise Lost. The idea of his Paradise Regained, is said to have been suggested by a conversation which passed at this place, between the poet and his friend Elwood, a quaker. The house in which Milton resided is now occupied by a farmer: it was built by some of the Fleetwood family, as appears from their arms over the door.
In the parish church are some monuments of the Fleetwoods and Claytons, and that of the late Sir Hugh Palliser, who lies there buried: there is no memorial for bishop Hare. The bishop of Lincoln is patron of the rectory, the advowson of which belonged formerly to the priory of Bradwell. Sir Hugh Palliser founded a school at this place for the education of 20 boys and 20 girls, and endowed it with 30 l. per annum.