RE-OPENING MONDAY, 17th MAY !
Please Ban Singeing in Buckingham’s Streets, Councillors!
From the Bucks Gazette, November 1, 1832
A very serious accident occurred at Buckingham on Thursday week. A boy of the name of Pitkin, about twelve years old, was sent by Mr. W. Stuchbery with a colt to be shod, the poor boy was particularly desired not to ride it, but he unfortunately did not attend to this order; rode it to the smith’s and was again riding him back, when he took fright of a pig singed in the public street, and threw the poor lad, who, falling on his head, fractured his skull. M. Edmund Southam, very humanely proffered his services to scalp him, but we fear, without its proving successful, as the boy lies in a dreadful, restless, and delirious state, with but little hope of recovery. Surely this accident will rouse the borough authorities to put some restrictions of thus dressing pigs in the open streets, it being obvious to every one that danger may arise to persons either on horseback or in harness.
Mr. W. Stuchbery was almost certainly a forebear of Councillor Robin Stuchbury’s family. In 1849, William Stuchbery was the Guardian in Radclive, responsible to the Buckingham Union Workhouse for the poor and destitute of his parish.
After the fire of 1725, Buckingham was rebuilt upon its Mediaeval town plan and foundations. It was high density, urban living, leaving little room for grounds and gardens. Public open space was often pressed into use, as in this tragic example, to light a big fire upon which to singe the hairs of a freshly slaughtered pig. No doubt, washing the carcase in a “tin” bath of cold water would have followed. In Mediaeval iconography December was represented as Pig Singeing Month: the demand for flitches of bacon rose towards Christmas when they would be suspended by the hearth to provide the family’s meat through the cold months of winter.
Mr Edmund Southam was Buckingham’s leading surgeon. He was a highly, respected, devout Quaker who operated from his house in Castle Street. Scalping was an extreme remedy, very much kill or cure. The scalp would be removed and the exposed skull roughened. Small holes might be bored into the skull. Occasionally, new tissue and skin formed over the wound and the patient made a forever hairless recovery.
Authority in Buckingham lay with its Bailiff and Burgesses. They didn’t react to the tragedy for they were unaccustomed to taking decisions as they were the Duke of Buckingham’s “place” men, in position for ceremonial purposes but having neither a budget nor the means to effect action. As far as I know, pig singeing in the streets of Buckingham has yet to be banned but in its day it was as dangerous as using a mobile phone whilst driving a vehicle in 2021
The devout, Christian REX (King) CNUT handing a magnificent large Crucifix to Winchester Cathedral.
Two faces of a silver KIng CNUT "short cross" coin probably struck between 1029 AD and 1035.
(Image from the British Museum.)
There were no banks in Saxon times, a hoard was its equivalent; a place to keep money safe. Bury it deep under a tree, in a chest under floor boards... Just as a modern bank account may need a PIN to access it, if you died unexpectedly before telling your next of kin your Hoard's precise location, they might never benefit.
Think of with those with Crypto Currency accounts, some forget or lose the access code and get to the point of having only one or two final, sweaty guesses before it ... disappears into the ether! Ancient lack of "back-up" is pure gain for modern archaeologists.
Modern big rollers love cash but they don't take your fat wad on trust do they, because the inner notes may be plain paper? Saxon dealers needed a quick assay, a way to spot impure metal. Pure precious metals e.g. Ag and Au are softer and more malleable i.e.more easily bent than other samples alloyed with cheap, or base, metal. They knew folding money was best! We still talk of 'folding money' i.e. paper money. British notes are now plastic and resist folding. In a 100 years time will 'folding money' be a term known only to historians?
Let me tell you a story: I used to 'plate' copper coins with a very thin layer of silver. Some would look like florins from a distance. I tried my 'florin' in a Church collection. The Vicar saw through my silver coating. I was saved from excommunication and exclusion from the Choir only because my Dad was its Choirmaster.
Clued up Saxons carried a tiny, sharp knife; one tiny 'peck' and the base metal under the silver film would be exposed.
A Pen and Ink drawing by the Reverend Silvester c. 1830. Note the gated entrance. Dissident followers were unpopular. One reason was they didn't pay Church rates. Congregations felt wary. The Quaker Meeting House was built at the end of a former public house's back garden and entrance was through the pub's side door previously used by farmers to take their horses to the rear stables whilst they, the farmers, went to market for the day. (Image from John Clarke's The Book of Buckingham).
Note the metal gates. Originally there was a stable between the two cottages which inhibited direct access. Meeting members accessed their tiny Chapel via one of the two neighbouring cottages.
(Image from John Clarke's The Book of Buckingham).
The roof was in fine fettle but the interior was dilapidated and the facade was a distressed and distessing period piece
(Image by Peter Austin).
The Old Meeting had been successfully repurpose as the Garage Restaurant despite its lack of proximity to car parks.
Along came the Covid Pandemic ...
(Image by Melanie Mosaics).
The original mechanical Petrol Pump Dial.
(Image by Melanie Mosaics).
"Pull alongside the pavement, Madame, and we'll swing out the hose on our boom. Does she take a bit of oil with her petrol?"
(Image by Melanie Mosaics).
The Congregational Church was opened in 1857 .
The University of Buckingham bought the Congregational Church and adapted it to become a Lecture Theatre / Recital Room
(Image from the Old Gaol's Helen Walker Collection).
The Schools along St Rumbold's Lane have been remodelled as flats.
(Image by Helen Walker)
1706 - a Buckingham group of dissidents gathered together for ‘worship and happiness’;
1725 - the Great Fire of Buckingham destroyed one third of the town; many left homeless;
1726 - the Rev. Boughton built a chapel for these dissidents; it was smaller than today's "Garage" ; wholly built of rubble stone & set back from Well Street behind a small yard;
18th century - the dissident community was schismatic;
1890s One issue was pious pastor George Glyn Scraggs's intolerance of other dissidents' foibles. One wag commented 'CHARITY ENDURETH (NOT REPORTETH) ALL THINGS';
1797 - a new, smaller chapel was built at the other end of Well St: the New Meeting House; its site became the core of the 1857 Congregational Church;
1797 - the older building became the Old Meeting;
Start of the 19th century : the two Chapels waxed and waned;
1850 - Union of the two Chapels; the Old Meeting became redundant; this Union established the Congregational movement in Buckingham;
1854-5 - Old Meeting was divided in two: an Upper Room became the British School whilst the ground floor was the Union Chapel's Sunday School;
1855 - opening of the British School in the Old Meeting;
1867 - relaunch of British School with a new headmaster;
1886 - Salvation Army, led by two women, use premises as its barracks;
C.1896 Barracks is termed the Salvation Army hall;
1916 - Salvation Army decamped to its present site in Moreton Rd;
1928 - Howard and Ron Rogers moved their garage business from the rear of the White Hart;
1928 - whilst Howard and Ron use the ground floor & the upper floor is used for temperance meetings;
1928 - clubs, such as the Buckingham Fanciers’ group, hold occasional Shows;
Later The Plymouth Brethren reigned on high and the Davey Bros. ran the lower garage;
1949 - the Daveys used the whole space;
... and then, one Davey brother opened a new garage in School Lane;
The other brother closed the Well St. garage which languished;
Until the building was adapted as the Garage restaurant;
Was it last year (2020) that the restaurant closed?
COMING SOON: HISTORY OF THE NEW MEETING
To the Editor of the Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press.
Sir, I’m casting my eyes over the advertisement columns of the Buckingham Advertiser on Saturday- the 21st instant. I noticed that Mr. Thomas Osborne had been instructed to offer for sale the Chapel and adjoining plot of land abutting the Maids Moreton Road. Seeing this advertisement set me thinking of the history of the building which in all probability will shortly be knocked down by the hammer of the versatile and volatile salesman to whom the business has been entrusted. It is customary with auctioneers who have a gift that way to dilate sometimes at considerable length, and with more less of sober truth, the past history properties entrusted to them for disposal, and it seems to me that the occasion to which 1 refer will be taken due advantage of, and that some historical details will eloquently set forth before biddings are asked for, and doubtless further detail will forthcoming at intervals should bids come slowly.
I would like say that I remember well the building the Chapel, which on its completion was opened with due ceremony and amid many and hearty congratulations in the interests of the Baptist denomination, the building was erected mainly through the substantial financial assistance of gentleman named Harris, who was nearly always spoken of as Squire Harris, and who lived in the large house at the corner, occupied for many years past by the Misses Thorpe. I unable to give the name of the first minister, but remember that the pulpit or rostrum was occasionally occupied by Mr. Harris; and I well remember that curiosity prompted myself and many others to be witnesses of a number of adult immersions in a kind of glass tank in front of the pulpit.
One the early preachers here Rev. Mr. Canyer, who by gradual steps led his hearers into the intricate paths of what was (at rate to Buckingham people) quite a “New Theology," which, with great effrontery, questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ. With such a state of affairs the congregation rapidly diminished, and coupled with other things best forgotten, the [Baptist] cause in the town never rallied to any satisfactory extent, and eventually the place was closed as far as divine service was concerned. While so ,I have known the place used for a strange variety of purposes. I have many occasions attended m the schoolroom there for social gatherings on Saturday evenings for the most part, when the principal item of a very medley programme was a rabbit-pie supper, the cost of which savoury repast was defrayed by payment at about sixpence each person.
On one occasion I was among a numerous company, the employees of a boot and shoe firm carried for a few years under the title of "Holland and Webb, The founders of the feast were in attendance, and full justice was done to the good things with which the tables were abundantly spread. Other sources of amusement were forthcoming; there were a few short speeches, and a jolly time was experienced all present, subsequently the building was utilised by the old School Board, who held possession of the premises until the completion of the present Council School premises in Well Street; and after being unused for some considerable time the building and premises came into the hands the Primitive Methodists, who have been compelled to vacate the place, and, on the authority of the Trustees, a sale has been ordered. As many of your readers know, several interments have taken place within the precincts offered for sale. Most, if not all, of those laid to rest, here were well known to me in life, and I am set wondering their remains will be undisturbed' in their narrow beds, or whether steps for their decent removal have been taken those entitled to move in the matter. I have mentioned some (but not all) the varied uses to which the premises in question have been appropriated since the erection of the Chapel in my early boyhood. I shall look with small degree interest for the result of the auction in your issue September 4th, whereby possibly some idea may formed of the future of premises which have hitherto been utilised for such varied purposes. Thanking you in anticipation for the insertion the above missive, I remain.
Dear Sir, Yours faithfully, THOMAS BAKER. Roseleigh ,Littlehampton August 23rd, 1909.
[Thomas Baker had served as the Editor of the Buckingham Express. At the time of the first Agricultural riots, which started in Gawcott, Mr Baker sided with the striking workers. Yeoman farmers of Bucks abused him so much that he resigned and moved to a new life in Sussex.]
COMING SOON :
The Chapel was saved by its acquisition as the Salvation Army Citadel.
The Sally Army had used THE OLD MEETING in Well Street as its "DRILL HALL" .
(The Salvation Army in Victorian Buckingham had been on a WAR FOOTING as it was opposed by a lively 'SKELETON ARMY')
written by OLD SALL in TINGEWICK for the BUCK'NAM 'TISER in 1911 (best READ ALOUD!)
I now takes up pen to rite you these few lines to tell you about me sun goin’ for a sojer. An’ altho’ I never should ’ave thought it, I’m blest if they didn’t let 'im ’ave one.
Well, it wer just like this. But must tell you fust tho’ that alluss ’ad dred of any of mine goin’ for sojers, altho’ the folks allus did say as me ole man would ’ave made as fine a sojer ever was, ’speshully if ’is staring part’ ad bin put t’other way about ’e would ’ave bin one the finest chested men in the army. Then of course you can’t ’under, “like father, like son.” But I never could see why they should want sojers to be like them there pigens as blow ther chests rite up into ther necks as if they wer agoing to bust. Spouters I think they calls ’em, an spouters necks generally look if they wer going to bust. Well, as I wer going to tell yer, it were like this: Just as me an’ one of me nabers wer agoing to sit down to a erly cup of tay, cos we ’adnt 'ad any dinner, in comes our Lively from plow for 'is dinner, an’ as I was agettmg it ou ‘e sest “Mother, I joined the tarryers last nite.” What, I sed; what, did somebody get selling you pup. “Pup be blowed,” ’e sed, “I say I’ve bin an’ joined the tarryers.” So I sed well you needn’t 'ave done that, for you wer tarryer enuf afore. That begun to get ’is mad up a bit, and ’e oilers out, “Can’t y’ understand, I say I've bin an’ joined the tarryers—them thear new lot of sojers. It’s new naame they’ve give ’em; they used to call ’em the Follen Teers.”
Talk about bein’ struck all of hep. There I wer like a ninepin; I fell flop down into me cheer. I couldn’t touch a bit of tay, I wer that upset . An If they ’ad bin in any speshul need of Follen Teers just then they could ’ave ’ad ’em the bukut full. “ Doan’t go an’ upset yerself so”, sed me good naber, “for you ent very strong at the best of times”. Well, to be sure, it ’as made me feel bad, I sed; I be all a shaake now. I feel that upset I doant no what to do, think as one o’ my children should want to be a sojer. Whatever ull ’e do, an’ ’im never bin away from ‘um in ’is life. “Well, ’uman,” sed me naber, “just ’ave a cup of tay or you’ll be downright bad.” I sed well I feel as I must raley have summat, I feel that ere faint. Here, Mrs., you just take that bottle an’ go down strit an fetch me a little drap of summut, an' I felt a bit better arter I 'ad ’ad a drap. But, lor bless your soul, I couldn’t touch a bit to et. An’ there sat that there varmint agetting ’is dinner down, ’im unconsarned as could be. There I’d got ’im nice dinner as any chap need wish sit down to; a good bacon dumplin’— ’um killed—about a foot long, clanger ’e calls ’em, an’ cabbage an’ taters. I’ll bet them sojer chaps wunt feed ’um like that; ’owever, if they does, they’ll ’ope ‘e’ll stop a wik instead of a fortnit. But I ’as ’eard say as that sort livin’ breeds good sojers. Well then ’e finished up with a few bread and lard sanwijes an’ two or three cups of tay. But a young growin’ chap does want a good livin', an’ my boy ’ull be 18 come next August; ’e were born the Saturday before the Feust [annual Tingewick Feast]. Ah! I sed, you’ll find the difference when you a sojer an’ ’ave to go away to ’em forin parts. “Yah,” ’e sed, “Tarryers doant ’ave to go to Forin parts.”
Arter ‘e wer gon there I sat an’ thought all the dredful things until it were time to get the ole man’s supper. ‘Ow to tell ’im I didn’t no, for I expected ’e’d swear so. But, ’owever, ’e took it in very good part, for I sed well man what should y’ think, if our Lively ent bin and jined the Tarryers rigment. An’ ‘e sed as ’ow ‘e wer one of the best at Tarrying ’e noed. I wonder whear they ud send ’im to, the old man sed, “Oh, ’ell still be able to come in an say ‘Where’s me mother.’ That just does rile the ole man, cos when any of the children come in they alius say “Where’s me mother” if they can't see me about, and never say “Where’s me dad.” But, ’owever, ’e was a bit matey an’ in a very good yumer, and ’e xplained as the proper name to give these sojers wer the Tarry-toe-aneels. Then ’e told as there wer a chap called “‘All Dane” as was a tryin’ to get a lot sojers for ’um defence. An I sed I didn’t like them foriners much, wan ’e any relashun that “ dane” as lived 'ear a few ’under’d ’ears ago—King Kute, the Dane I think they called 'im, ’im as begun orderin’ the sea about. An’ did they want these Tarry-toe-an-eels to go and sweep it back cos it disobeyed orders. Then he said I was about silly as they made ’em. Then ’e sed they wanted the sojers to keep the Forin chaps away. Mr. ‘All Dane an' some others, who ’ad very jumpy nerves, were afraid as ’ow a few Jerman Bands mite come over some dark nite. An’ I sed well that would be nerve shaking, but there was one thing, we shouldn't able to lodge any of ’em, as our beds are groaning with over wate now, but there wer plenty of folks in the place as would give ’em a most ’arty welcome, for some dearly love every man but a Englishman. An’ it ‘as bin sed ’ow they be goin’ to 'ave all locks an’ bolts took off ther doors and things, an’ keep open 'ouse, and that’s why they doant want any sojers becos they want to keep open country. “But I tell yer,” said the ole man, “this Mr. ‘All Dane is getting these Tarry-toe-an-eels to keep ’em out, an’ 'e couldn’t ’ave a better lot of chaps than these bacon dumplin’ consumers for the purpus.” Well now, after the old man ’ad xplained, me vishun begun to briten, an’ I could sorter begin to see a 'ole through a ladder. I could see it 'udn’t do to leave the door of the country open any more, nor yet 'ouse door; these Tarryers are be the kay, an’ if them Jerman Bands attempt to come I 'opes as ’ow they’ll slam the door in ther faces an’ lock it.
One night our Lively comes in an’ dresses 'isself and ’e was goin’ to drill, so I thought I should like to see what sort of performance that was. I went down the “Crown” field—no I didn’t go in, I went round back way, that’s wher they drill, an’ to tell you the truth, I was quite pleased with what I see. There wer a smart little chap with sojers things an’ ’e kep ordering ’em abont, an’ it was just wunderful to see ‘ow they done as ’e told em. It waas wuth summut to see ’em do as they were told for once. ’Ow smart ’e made em walk, too. I shouldn’t ’under if it’ll be any trouble for them get a gal at the Feust. Course, they ent got ther proper sojerin things yet. My word, you wunt catch ’em when they ’ave. Then they be agoin’ into camp for a fortnit. I doant know if they will be anything like the camp meetings they used to ‘old about here ’ears ago. Anyway I shall look at sojerin in a different way for the future. I ’avent got much to protect, but I must say as ’ow I don’t want them Foriners to come and ’ave our bit of bacon an’ tackle. An’ of course them as got more to protect must do more towards it. I do ’opes ’ow eny master as ’as got any of these Tarry-toe-an-eels at work for ’em will give ’em a little palm oil and a blessing when they goes off to attend the Camp Meeting.
Old Sall lived in a one up and one down at the end of the old Sunday School which later became the kitchen for the Sunday School. My dad often spoke about Old Sall. (David Ridgway)
Lovely words that bring back lots of memories. I still use quite a few. Summat, tay, ull and ent spring to mind. I must admit that as fewer people around talk like that now, my usage of old Bucks dialect has reduced over the years. (Tim Hilsdon)
I saw the Old Gaol in the 1970s. This story brings back memories. We Kiwis were staying at Tingewick in a Boarding House. (Wayne Judson, presumably by 'Spouter Post' from N.Z.)
Major John Hooker of 'Hooker's Malted Milk'. He was a great enthusiast for the Territorials.
An’ that just reminds, as the tale tellers say.
Our young Sall, she left her place and come 'um t'other wik; cos o’ course now us a got our bit of fortin, us couldn't think o’ lettin her got out as a ornary sarvent. She'll 'ave to go as a 'elp or companion or summut o' that sort. You know them thear places whear thears a bit more work only yer titles a better sounding one.
Well, as I wer' a sayin', our young Sall she come 'um, an' I went an’ went an met 'er at the station; an’ afore I 'ardly 'ad time t' ax 'er 'ow she wer agettin' an' she said. "Oh, mother, you really will have to get a new dress, for yours is getting quite shabby." "Lor, bless you, gal," I said, "My frocks good enough for me, I only ’ad' it when our Nobby wer christened un’ e'll only be twenty come next leasing time." But ’owether nothing 'ud do but what I must ’ave a new 'un. Of course I left the orderin' an it t' our young Sall, cos o' course, I doant understand much about such things. An' she said, “Of course, mother, you must have one of the latest fashion. I think one of the Hobble skirts would suit your beauty.” I must say as 'ow I got rather a nice figure - plump you know; not one o' them thear 'ungry looking ones what makes a quartern loaf begin shiverin' when they look at it. Altho' the ole man when 'e’s got 'is urge up, does say as 'ow l be like a india rubber ball on stilts.
But, ’owether, I didn’t no nothing about ’obble skirts. What I knowed about was ’ow my corns make m' ’obble bad enough till I’ve ’ad a go 'at ’em wi’ the ole mans raser. then they a bit easier; but it's a funny thing, I allus notice that when the old man shaves wi’ it it always makes 'im that lively, e ’ops about like the pays [peas] do when our young Slens a parching ’em in the fire shovel. But as I wer asayin, our young Sall sais as 'ow I wer t' 'ave a 'obble skirt, and course, a 'obbld skirt it 'ad t' be. Well, the dressmaker brought it um, an’ the next Sunday arternoon as ever wer I put it an. An’ of all the cust things as ever I see that wer the one. I tried t’ put it over me 'ead, but me 'ead wer too big for that job for it udn’t gon through that 'obble nohow, an' so I had to pull it the same as the ole man does ’is trousis an’ then some of the stitches began to get rather disagreeable and begin to shout. You can take my word, these 'ere sort of frocks be rightly named ’obble. I started to come down stairs, but, oh dear! I didn't no which leg to start wi' fust. An’ if you’ll believe me, I ’ad to sit down an’ slibber down like children when they fust walk. Anyhow I did manage to get down an' started getting the tay. Just then in comes our young Slen, an' I were a 'obbling about, an’ 'e said. “Well, mother, 'ow y' do 'obble, be yer fit bad?” An' I said,"No boy, it be this ’ear new frock." Then in come our Lively, an 'e stood their agrinnin' as bad as if 'e 'ad drunk a pint of vinegar." Ho! Ho!Ho!" he said. " Ha! Ha! Ha! Mother a y' started wearin' yorks [yokes] around yer frock? Y' doant mean to turn yer calves out to grass, I can see; you got ’em tied up for the winter."
Arter tay, me an' the old man went out for walk. An’ them thear chaps, some an’ ’em said, “Hullo, Sall, what be y’ practising ready for the Sack race at the sports next year at the Feust?" [Tingewick Annual Feast- like a mini Buckingham Fair, full of fun, stalls, eating and drinking. ] "Well, I can tell y’ as 'ow us didn't stop out very long. The wust part wus to come though—'ow about goin' upstairs? It wer no good me thinking of walking up or ’obblin’ up so the ole man 'ad t' gimme picky back, wi’ Lively pushing behind, an' even then when I went to take it off I 'ad t’ get the ole man to give bit of a pull.
One day in the though I got into terrible 'obble, like our poet [Commonly called the Tingewick Poet; it may well be that the Poet and the Philosopher shared one body!] did when 's three-wheeled bicycle shied at a threshin' engine, an' nearly got 'is flowin' locks combed wi’ the engin' wheel. But as I wer' asayin', I wer in a fix, for a cow an' calf walked into our ’ouse cos the front door stood open, an' if our Nobby didn’t 'obble off quick as 'e could up the garden out o’ the way. There I wer a jumping about an' couldn't get out o' the way, but I daresay my antics frit ’em a bit for they wer soon persuaded to quit. Then t’other night our ole man comes in an’ 'e said, “Sall, I've seen some chaps wi’ ’obble trousers an.' An’ I said, “What, 'ave ’em got some 'obble trousers now?" “Well," 'e said, “The chaps I see wer ’obbling." He said they 'ad bin t’ see if the ducks wer' at roost, an’ they werdn’t, so they went stir ’em up with long pole an’ they got the “quack" after it too, for when they came um they wer walking just as I’ve sin some of my little bovs when they wer fust breeched you know, they ’obbled. Well, t' cut a long story short, one day our ole man said. “Sall, you might jist sort the taters." Well I went to stoop down to start it, an’ if I didn’t, pitch 'ead fust into the scuttle, an’ their I 'as t' scuttle for a ’at till the ole man come an’ picked m' up.
That ended the skirt, for I took and got the scissors an’ made some slits it, same as turnpike sailors* slit thear boots when they pinch 'em.
[ tramps dressed as ragged sailors who roamed England pretending to be have been ship-wrecked and begging for alms; the Turnpike Sailor was a Drawing Room song in Edwardian days]
Adapted by ED from a piece she wrote for the Buckingham Advertiser in 1910
from a cheeky postcard
James King was a Miller and was appointed as Buckingham Borough Gaoler in 1832 on the death of Thomas Dandy who had been the self-styled Governor of the Gaol for about a decade. In 1836, James was placed on report by the Town Council “that James King be continued in the Office of Gaoler during our pleasure and that intimation be given to him by the Town Clerk that Complaints have been made against him and that his Continuance in Office is very uncertain,” (Sadly, we don’t know, as Mike Smith’s booklet on the Old Gaol suggests, what the complaints were. ) Whatever, to be in such condemnation caused James great anxiety for he supported not only his wife but their eight small children.
At the start of 1837, James was relieved when the town Councillors announced the appointment or reappointment of ex-butcher William Giles as High Constable, James as Gaoler, and Henry Marsh as “Mace-bearer and Messenger in the Place of his Father.” Nepotism guided our burgesses and keeping jobs “in the family” was later further demonstrated as both William and Henry were, in reverse order, to succeed James as Keepers of the Borough Gaol.
1837 may have started well for the Kings but it developed into what our present Queen once memorably described as an annus horribilis. Somehow, and we do not know the why and when, James was dismissed as Town Gaoler. We can only hope that King’s trade as a Miller continued to put bread on the table for his large family. Down the Stratford road from the Gaol, the new Buckingham Union Workhouse, designed by local lad working hard making good, George Gilbert Scott, was taking shape. It was a stone edifice and I suspect that at least the filling for its rumble walls was excavated on site. Anyway, by Monday, the 20th November, inmates had been admitted and the new Workhouse was a going concern but it needed a porter. Our man James, who must have been terrified that he and his family might be doomed to become inmates applied for, and got, the job. There was just time for James to pop home and tell Mrs James and her kiddies of his good fortune, before returning to be briefed at 6pm of his tasks for that evening.
Oh dear… James never arrived. The building contractors were still in situ on the Workhouse’s site. At about 6.30pm, a Mr Jacobs, the chief contractor’s son, heard groans coming from a thirty foot deep stone hole, created, the Bucks Herald report obtusely tells us, “for the purposes of the Workhouse”. To me that can only mean for building stone or as an occupational Centre to keep those less deserving inmates, e.g. tramps, busy earning their bed and crust through hard labour. Once Jacobs realised that there was an injured man at the bottom of his father’s pit, he summoned a posse of their navvies and got them to lower him down to the bottom where King was in agony but “sensible”. James was hauled up, taken home and a doctor summoned. The doctor told of three broken ribs, a punctured lung and back damage.
James King lingered in agony but fully conscious until the middle of Wednesday when he passed away, leaving his despairing wife and eight children destitute. At the subsequent Inquest, the Jury took advantage of a newly introduced rule and gave their “remuneration”: one shilling each to the widow for whom a public subscription was later opened. Meanwhile, the Jury criticised the Governor of the Workhouse for leaving a deep pit unmarked and unprotected during dark nights. He was told to bolt the gates at dusk and only allow guided access to the pit area.
Codicil: up to and beyond 1920, tramps in our Workhouse’s Tramp Ward, which overlooked the Stratford Rd, slept in cells equipped with a hammer, a large piece of stone, and a metal grill to an internal stone pit. Breakfast and the freedom of the road was awarded to those whose stone had been reduced to chippings small enough to have been pushed through the grid. Life was often hard and cruel in OLD BUCKINGHAM.
c.1960: Too Little Too Late. Scott's Workhouse, looking like the White House , lies behind bars.
Bucks Herald 23.07.1842
Real Game.—A curious affray took place between a cock and a cream-tin, in the Market-square, at Buckingham, on Friday week. The cream-tin was set out at the door of Mr. Bradford —chanticleer perceiving his reflection, began setting up his hackles, of course his supposed opponent did the same, which produced terrible onslaught by the cock, who was not driven away until he had begrimed his opponent with his own blood.
In 1850, Buckingham’s leading ironmonger was Henry Miller Bradford who remained in shop and works in Market Square. He had married Mary Arnatt of Tingewick in 1841 but, sadly, the couple didn’t have children. I fear that by the time of this story, Mary had died, aged around 38. Perhaps, Henry felt fancy free. He certainly was ready to ‘splash the cash’, for early in January, he bet the mature, rich, singleton farmer, Mr. Crawford of Newton Purcell a wager of £50 (£6000 in today’s money) that Crawford wouldn’t be a ‘Benedict’ before a year was out.
Was it as omen of ‘Things to Come’ when Mrs Howard, Mr. Crawford’s housekeeper, who was confined to bed by illness at the New Year in a 1851, managed to ignite her bedclothes with a candle? (Fortunately her screams were heard and with help she escaped serious injury.)
On the last day (08.01) of the wager, Mr Crawford took Miss Painter, the daughter of a rich Mixbury farmer, to church. Mr Crawford had won both wager and a well endowed lady, leaving our Mr Bradford to ruminate on his lost fortune and agonise over the scorn of the nation because this story went ‘viral’ in newspapers across the land.
So… how does Shakespeare help to decode ‘to be a Benedict’?
Clue, if you need one: M.A.A.0.
Was Mr. Bradford ‘down and out’?
Not a bit of it. Within a year, he’d married Miss Warr, a farmer’s daughter from Benthill Farm. She proved wonderfully fecund and filled their house with baby Henry’s and Henriettas. The family moved to the largest shop in Buckingham, the former Cobham Arms Inn (now Angels Boutique in West Street… see image), and Henry Miller Bradford was elected Town Mayor in 1858 and 1859.
As fir William Crawford, it may have been a case of ‘easy come, easy go’ for in 1880 he was declared bankrupt.
IDEA FOR A TRIP:
Why not spend an afternoon looking at and comparing the two faux Castles of North Bucks?
The late Geoff Kirk undertook much of the spadework for this piece. Geoff’s was a keen local historian who specialised in family and military history. Whilst rifling through the Minutes of Buckingham Borough Council for 1919, he found that it had asked that “application be made to the Army Command for a gun captured by the Royal Bucks Hussars to be assigned to the Town of Buckingham as a War Trophy.” At the end of 1919, a letter was received from the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire stating that his committee had allocated a gun to Buckingham. The Field Gun languished in the Council Yard for 6 months whilst our Town councillors discussed the best place to display it. Eventually in May 1920, they decided that to one side of Old Gaol’s entrance would cost the least to adapt to support the steel gun’s heavy weight.
My problem has been to demonstrate that the town council displayed its victory in the market place. Several postcards printed between the two World Wars hint that behind the railings between the entrance to the Old Gaol & Market Hill was something large & lumbering – but it was difficult to see whether it was animal or mineral, hippo or howitzer! Luck was at hand – I acquired an old set of glass negatives shot around 1930 by a London teacher taking a party of schoolgirls on a tour of Bucks. Their condition was poor but one showed Buckingham Old Gaol with the German Howitzer in place!
Look at my scan. I’ve copied the gun, increasing its size and contrast – the copy covers a faded part of the original in front of the Gaol’s entrance. Please note the early BOROUGH OF BUCKINGHAM sign, insensitively placed BANG in front of the gun! It declares: “PARKING PLACE FOR MOTOR VEHICLES. MOTOR CARS MUST BE PARKED PARALLEL WITH ROAD". These days, Buckinghamshire Council instructs drivers to park at right angles to the road. Now have a peep to the left of the Old Gaol and down to North End Square. Can you make out the old thatched, tumbledown cottages at the end? In recent years, they’ve been replaced by the redbrick care home: Northend Court.
In the autumn of 1920, two machine guns and “other articles” arrived in Buckingham.( I think the machine guns were awarded to the Latin School). Back to the big gun: Philip Sturtivant told me that he was 99% sure that it was a German First World War 15-cm Schwere Feldhaubitze (Field Howitzer), made by Krupp.
When the 2nd World War broke out the Council gave it back to the government “for any purpose for which it might be useful”. With luck it helped to turn steam into hydrogen for barrage balloons but much of the scrap iron given to help the war effort wasn’t recycled but casually dumped in the North Sea. (Ed Grimsdale)
What a shame that the lovely 1939 neo-Georgian Post Office was shunted against gable end of Christ's Hospital.
N.B. Red Telephone Boxes
An advanced design for this tribute to Queen Victoria on her Diamond Jubilee. There' s a touch of early Arts and Crafts with Juliet balconies to allow old ladies to recapture the springtime of their lives.
Charles Bell was a talented Scottish architect. Have a peep at Dr. De'Ath's house in West Street, a.k.a. Hamilton House . Mr Bell also designed a Guardians' block for Buckingham's Workhouse. The architect died young.
Watch out for long form 's' s in old documents. They're not 'f's - their bars are too short.
Faking an old Doc?
2 tips: Never use a long 's' to end a word, or when it contains a double s !
The Burleys baked best Buckingham bread. My picture shows a Museum document: William Burley's receipt for £3 9s. 4d. received for one year's loaves that he'd delivered weekly to a each lady in the Almhouses.
P.S. Bill's descendants 'poshed up' their surname, as in Linden Village!
Another Diamond Jubilee tribute; the Almshouses were extended and modernised in a sympathetic fashion to designs by local architect, Alan Watson, of Tingewick.
You couldn't yacht on the Ouse but you could climb aboard
the Steam Yacht Columbia in North End Square.
Note the Steam Engine. These Horses ate no hay, and they didn't neigh! However, one Councillor complained in 1904 that bright lights and hissing steam frightened real horses ridden through town. "Please close the Pleasure Fair."
"Ride on, Ride on, you majesties..."
"C'mon get on, only a Bob"
"Family tickets only two quid."
Hear those screams?
Strike a bright light
Strike up the Band,
"Hold out your hand,
Now ... squeeze me tight!"
Fair families bring festive fun for all the family twice every October in Buckingham.
Once upon a time the first, Hiring or Mop, Fair, split families ... more about that on the following page!
The images on this page were kindly sent to Cllr Stuchbury by Ms. M. Forrest. She was born a Buck'nam babe in a Caravan not a stone's throw from the Old Gaol and she has had "many happy returns" over her long life.
Buckingham, Friday 2nd October, 1863
" In front of the Town Hall, on the elevated pavement, were a considerable number of females, some of them accompanied by their mothers. Some of the girls were very young, some were more advanced in life, but one object had brought them thither. They were desirous of finding a home for the next twelve months, and had come to Buckingham fair to see who would have them. Up and down in front of this assembly, farmers and others walked, and talked and looked. Fixing their eyes on one of the girls, who looked strong and healthy, they approached her, and questioned her as to her abilities as a servant, and the wages she would require for twelve month’s service. A sum was named, but the questioner thought it too much. He would give her a sovereign a year less than she asked. His was not a hard place. She would have the evenings to herself, and she might have a holiday occasionally. But he said, "She must not wear a crinoline, neither must she ever wear artificial flowers on, or in, her bonnet. She would be required to wear a cap, because his wife did not. She must not have a sweetheart/for that might unsettle her mind and make her neglect her work. Her friends must not visit her, for if they did she might be tempted to give away what did not belong to her. He liked her appearance much, would she take his bidding?”
The poor girl had stood some hours in the fair. No one else had offered to hire her, so, for five pounds a year, she consented to become the servant of him who had laid so many restrictions upon her.
Another of these gentlemen wanted a servant, and his sight was not so good as it used to be. So he called in the aid of his eye-glass, and wandered up and down with his glass to his eye, searching for a servant, like some astronomer searching for a stray planet. The way in which these poor girls were quizzed, and examined must have made them feel anything but comfortable. A rosy cheek was a passport to a situation, but a pale one was passed scornfully by. How anxious many a mother looked, when a master approached and tried to hire her daughter. How pleased many a master looked, when he had hired a good servant as he thought, for little money. As we stood, watching their movements, we could not help wishing this was the last fair for hiring domestic servants in this manner. We might be wrong, but we could not help thinking no really good master or mistress need resort to Statute Fairs to find servants. We were glad to see the numbers of those who do so, growing less, and the sooner there are none at all, the better. The number of servants who stand in the fair for hire, is, we, are happy to find, on the decrease. "
[ Penned by Thomas Baker, once the Editor of the Buckingham Express, who fell from favour when he backed the first ever Strike by Agricultural Workers in Gawcott. He resigned and moved to Littlehampton. ]
Recollections of Buckingham Statute Fair around 1850
[Stature was an alternative to Charter]
Buckingham “Statty”, when I was a boy,
To kiddies like me was an annual joy.
We longed for its coming, and when it arrived,
To get much enjoyment always contrived.
For weeks we were saving our half-pence and pence.
Nor touched our hoard under any pretence,
Until the stalls and shows stood in tempting array.
And then our few pence quickly melted away.
Outside the “Three Cups” there were sausages hot,
So rich that we only could eat a small lot;
And up in the square “Okey King” had a stall
With baked pears and pickles enough for us all.
Sometimes a menagerie tempted us in.
And boxing booth touters made terrible din;
Big women and dwarfs to amuse us were there.
And many were hawking "the fun of the fair.’
Of whirligigs, too, there were many, and these
Were always successful we youngsters to please.
Of Stalls there were many, attractive with toys
To draw out the pennies from girlies and boys;
Cake and gingerbread stalls were arranged all in rows
And gave out scent which tickled the nose;
“Aunt Sally” was there, and cocoa-nut shies -
We pocketed these and damaged her eyes.
Theatres also we had our full share.
In which Shakespeare's plays made us wonder and stare-
How cruel we thought that black-faced Othello,
And came away hating the murderous fellow.
Of dancing shows, too - these of various size—
With their troops of performers delighted our eyes;
The capering clowns with their milk-water jokes
Were sources of pleasure to all us young folks;
The ladies and gents decked in courtly array.
our memories linger and will not away.
Though old we have grown, with pleasure think
Of these scenes far away on memory's brink;
And sometimes are tempted to wish were young,
To witness the scenes which rhymes I have strung.
THOMAS BAKER. Roseleigh Littlehampton. October 11th, 1910.
Stories of men treating women with disrespect at HIRING FAIRS were legion in Victorian times. However, right from their inception Buckingham's two papers: the Advertiser and the Express campaigned vigorously for women's rights and their protests were amplified by local clergy:
TO THE EDITOR OF THE BUCKINGHAM ADVERTISER Sir, —The observations in your last week’s paper, on the the Statute Fair,” were not more severe than just. The exhibition which takes place on such occasions must be painful in the extreme to all “sober-thinking persons”. What would our gallant Allies, the French, say, if they were told that in England, which boasts so much of her superior morality and decency in manners, it was custom for young, unprotected females to be exposed in the market place, like cattle in a fair, dressed in all their finery for the purpose of being hired, —subject all day to jests and ribaldry, and to questions of no improving tendency, and to something worse on their return home at night ? The consequences are too well known, and just what might be expected. Statute fairs are bad enough for young lads, hired generally without a character [ i.e. reference] n and therefore not over careful keep a thing so little valued. It is,easier, as in most other cases, to point out the evil than the remedy. The difficulty may be great, but surely not insurmountable to those that have a will. Can no such thing as a register for farm servants be devised? Why should farm servants alone be engaged without character
o place has made more or greater improvements lately than the town of Buckingham; let it be added to the much for Buckingham, that she set the example of discontinuing the evils of Statute Fairs. Radclive, Oct.8th, 1859. J. COKER
Buckingham was in the vanguard of the movement to recognise women's rights in Bucks ; sadly Hiring Fairs remained active in High Wycombe until the end of Queen Victoria's reign (1901).
By 1870, most of the groundwork was completed. A Servants' registry had been established run by a lady, where young girls could seek work opportunities in private. Farmers' wives had read the pieces in the Buckingham papers detailing the appalling indignities that young women had suffered whilst being displayed in the Hiring Market from leering, jearing and ogling men and these stout ladies were putting their foot down: the hiring of chamber maids and cooks was better done by women!
BUCKINGHAM. Useful.—We are glad ton notice that a class has been formed at the National School Room, Buckingham, for women and girls who are fast hastening towards womanhood; in which sewing is taught, and the art of cutting out articles in daily requisition. This will be great boon to many, especially the cutting department, for there are many maidens getting married, who know but little about cutting out articles clothing, though they may able sew a little. Additional to this, reading, writing, and the simple rules of arithmetic are taught, that the lasses may able to keep their accounts, and give a good account of them. We believe the class is free, so no excuse can made on the score of cost, and the time from half past 4 o’clock until 6 in the evening.
There is also a Library of Volumes, consisting of Tales, Histories, Biographies, and religious works, to which the poorer classes are allowed access, on the payment of one penny monthly; many avail themselves of the opportunities thus afforded them, acquiring information, and we should like to know that every town England offered to her toiling sons and daughters, equal privileges, and advantages. There would then less room for the poor to grumble; more chance of their moral reformation —fewer dunces, and more intelligent men—better wives and kinder sisters - and consequently a better state of things generally.
From The Banbury Advertiser, 16.01 1862
George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, used his quick wit to ingratiate himself into the bedchamber of the restored King Charles II.
This is how he described the town of Ipswich in the 18th century to the King
“A town without inhabitants, a river without water, streets without names , where asses wear boots.”
Ipswich was a poor town without industry and, hence, it had been slow to grow;
In summer, its river was apt to dry to a mere trickle in its estuary;
It was so small with few streets which didn’t need names;
But what did the comment about asses wearing boots mean?
Villiers was referencing Christchurch House, a Country House near Ipswich. That Noble’s Seat possessed a bowling green. Asses were used to drag the rollers. In the absence of boots, worn to increase contact area of the hooves, the asses would have punctured holes in the sacred turf.
Horse, donkeys and asses wearing boots rolled the cricket pitches of England for hundreds of years until the internal combustion engine became the dominant provider of motive power.
The key to understanding why asses wore boots is this law of Physics:
Pressure = Force / Area
Boots or leathers strapped on the hooves of the beasts increased their area of contact. Magicians always rest on a BED OF NAILS to increase the contact area and thus reduce pressure on their skin. The Royal Latin School in Buckingham bought a big box of heel protectors when it moved to a new site in 1963. Lady parents arriving for ‘Do’s in its School Hall cum Gymnasium wearing stylish stiletto heels were commanded to put a protector on each heel to avoid splintering the expensive, smooth, wooden floor.
A recent discussion on Facebook produced other other memories of Nags in Boots.
June Hall remembered:
Gosh Ed, so many memories - when Buckingham Golf Club was first in existence, and before the coming of manual lawnmowers, the horse which pulled the grass mower wore boots, to save the precious turf - and I well remember wearing heel guards to save the previous floor at RLS - many moons ago...
Canon Brian Lillistone responded:
When I lived in Herefordshire I knew an old gardener who had started work as
the 6th gardener at a country house. By the 1970s the house had been blown
up, its estate sold and he had bought the walled garden s and orchard which he
cultivated still. One day he produced some leather objects and explained
about the ponies wearing these leather shoes when they mowed the lawns.
For hundreds of years, horses and asses wore boots or leather foot bindings when they were doing ‘donkey’ work on lawns, cricket pitches and other grasslands which needed to remain flat and smooth. George Villiers' cheeky remarks about Ipswich had led us to recover a forgotten technology that was employed in Buckingham eighty years ago. (E.G.)
The Advert for Horse Boots dates from 1907.