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October 2019

How to Spot a Turnpike

The Kings Head  AylesburyThe King’s Head in Aylesbury dates from 1455. Coaches would go through this arch when they arrived at this inn.

How do you recognise the old 18th Century turnpikes; the first decent roads to be built in Britain since the Romans left?

It’s quite easy, and there are a few ways to do it.

The first clue is the presence of milestones. If you see a milestone, you are almost certainly on a turnpike. Anciently, a turnpike was a horizontal wooden boom that turned on a vertical pivot, placed across the road until the toll keeper got your money. It came to mean the whole road.

Milepost  Little WoolstoneThis mile post is in Little Woolstone, in the middle of Milton Keynes.

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Running Late!

I've been a bit behind with my blog posts recently. Sorry about that, folks! I've had to deal with family stuff and illness. I hope to bring you this week's post later today.


The Cold War Post on Your Doorstep

Whitchurch ROC postCold War concrete.

Overlooked by houses and just next to a bus stop in Whitchurch is this strange piece of concrete. It’s a remnant of the Cold War.

Built in 1957, it’s the entrance to an underground observation post, to be used if we ever came under atomic attack. Under the locked hatch is a shaft and a fixed ladder that leads down to the three man post.

Over 1,500 posts were built across the UK, all spaced around eight miles apart. Some still remain. In the event of the Soviet Union attacking, volunteers of the Royal Observer Corps would man each post and report the direction and intensity of atomic blasts.

When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991 there was no more need for these posts, and they were all closed.

What’s There Now?

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Secrets of Buckingham

London Road Bridge  BuckinghamThe coat of arms on London Road Bridge is made from Coade stone, a ceramic material.

You might think that you know Buckingham very well, but here’s a few things you just might not know and can find on a walk that's just a mile and a half long.

Park at Cornwall’s Meadow. It has plenty of spaces and costs just 50p for three hours. It’s on the South side of the Stratford Road end of the High Street. From there, take the footpath through the woods at the opposite end from where you drove in. When you cross the footbridge over the River Great Ouse, turn right.

Walk past the skate park and playground, and you’ll find yourself at the end of London Road Bridge.

Built mostly at the expense of the Marquis of Buckingham, the bridge has his coat of arms in the centre of the North side, above the river arch. You might have seen it if you’ve walked across the footbridge that runs close alongside; it’s close enough to touch.

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Lost Villages of North Bucks

There are many lost villages in England. Many people imagine they vanished because of the Black Death, but there are plenty of other reasons for villages to disappear. Here’s just a few of the lost villages that you can visit in North Bucks.

Tyringham and Gayhurst
Tyringham bridge and the house
Tyringham bridge, and the house.

In 1562 the Tyringham family had the seven farms in the village demolished so that they could extend the park land surrounding the manor house. The village had been emparked.

There’s no evidence that the village was rebuilt elsewhere. Emparking was common in England, and Gayhurst House, on the opposite side of the B road, is the site of another emparked village.

At Gayhurst, the village was rebuilt on what’s now the B526.

What’s there now?

Tyringham Hall and grounds (not open to the public) and the church. The graceful Tyringham bridge is Grade 1 listed.

Tyringham is a couple of miles North of Newport Pagnell, just off the B526. Turn right off this road, and drive through the gatehouse and over Tyringham bridge. The church is on the right, about 200 yards after the bridge.

The early 18th century church up by Gayhurst house is very fine, and there’s a magnificent Walnut tree not far past the gatehouse of Gayhurst House. The house is not open to the public.

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