There is a legend of an underground tunnel that runs from Notley Abbey, near Long Crendon, to The Prebendal, at Thame. Stories of secret tunnels are numerous but there is some evidence for the existence of this one. Two journalists visiting Long Crendon in 1892 make a passing reference to the tunnel in their report to The Redditch Indicator. They write: “We talked long upon the mysteries of Notley and the wonderful underground passage, two miles in length, along the banks of the river to the Prebendal in Thame, but time and railway trains will not wait and we strode across the country just in time to catch the train and bade goodbye (but not we trust for ever) to the Old Needle Land (Long Crendon was a village that was once famed for its manufacture of needles).”
Mrs Audrey Danny, who currently lives at Notley Abbey, also knew of the legend. She said: “When we first moved into this house nearly 30 years ago we were visited by an old lady of 86 who had worked here as a young girl at the end of the last century. She said she remembered a short passage being filled in where the present tarmac drive passes the front door; she had no idea how long it was – may be it was a cellar from the monastic period.”
Frank Mitchell (writing in 1974) retells rumours which were circulating when he was a boy. The rumour surrounded a Mr Lawrence, the gardener at the Prebendal, who lived on the estate with his wife and five children. It was said that one night at around midnight he was woken by the sound of a dog barking at the big house. He went to investigate and on reaching the courtyard saw what was described as a ghostly light coming from the derelict chapel, and a line of monks filing in to a hole in the ground. Mr Lawrence followed the last one in and found himself in an underground passage, but his way was barred by a fall of earth. The next morning he could find nothing unusual, but the mystery was never explained. The rumour of the time was that Mr Lawrence had found the entrance of the tunnel which legend said linked the Prebendal to Notley Abbey. However he was keeping the location of the hole in the ground to himself in the hope of possibly finding some buried treasure.