The villages were first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, when they were jointly called Hamdena after the owners of the local manor. This shows how long the same family had been in possession of land in Buckinghamshire (the Hobart part of the family name came later).
By the 14th century 'Hamdena' was split into the two villages, Great Hampden at the top of one hill and Little Hampden on the next hill, with the lush arable land forming the rest of the two parishes spread out in the valley between them. It was also at about this time that Hampden Hall, the house belonging to the Hobart-Hampden family was rebuilt.
After the death of John Hampden, a cross was erected just above the lane that leads from the Hall to the nearby village of Prestwood. Where the cross stands is the spot where John Hampden stood when he first refused to pay the Ship money tax in 1636. From here there is a splendid view of the Chiltern Hills.
In more modern times Hampden Hall was used extensively by the Hammer film studios as the perfect gothic backdrop for many of their films.
Today the Hampden villages are still in a very beautiful part of the countryside, and are well worth a visit at any time of the year.