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November 2019

Platform Done

New platform at the Peace PagodaThe newly finished platform, at the Peace Pagoda.

It’s done! The weather beaten platform in front of the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes has been replaced by a brand new one, ready for next year’s 40th Peace Pagoda Ceremony.

I went to Willen to see it on Monday. It was raining. The new platform was built using a warm coloured stone. The path around it and up to the pagoda have also been replaced, in the same material. The new stone goes well with the yellow bricks on the pagoda. It looked great, despite the weather.

New pagoda platform and Willen LakeWillen Lake and the new platform, from the Peace Pagoda.

In January I told you about the project to replace the cracked and sagging original platform, expected to be completed by October this year. It was finished on time.

The 40th year is an important milestone and it means a lot to have a platform to be proud of at the pagoda ceremony, which will be in June.

Next at the pagoda will be the Sunrise Welcoming Ceremony, at 8am on New Year’s Day. But  there will be New Year’s Eve chanting the night before at the temple from 11 pm.

Nun at Peace Pagoda  Milton KeynesThe old cracked platform, in January


Secret Whitchurch

St John's church  WhitchurchThe church, at Whitchurch.

There’s more to the ancient village of Whitchurch than you might think, if you are just passing through. Amongst other things, hidden away are a secret World War 2 workshop, a castle, and a Tudor house that’s in disguise.

I parked on the High Street, facing towards Winslow, a little way North of the petrol station. I was right next to a post box. If you can’t find a spot there, try the side streets on the South (Aylesbury) end of the village.

Keep on the same side of the road and walk North towards the Winslow end of the High Street. There’s a long half timbered house on your left, just after the gentle left hand bend. This 16th Century house is now known as Winster Paddocks, but it was once a coaching inn called The Cock Inn, and from 1914 to 1989 It was a butcher’s shop.

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Pop Goes the Church Gun

Preparing the Fenny PoppersA waxed wooden plug goes into the touch-hole.

It’s Noon on Monday, the 11th of November and half a dozen loud bangs echo across Fenny Stratford. St Martin’s church have fired their ceremonial cannon again.

The six small cannons are the Fenny Poppers. The poppers have have been fired on the 11th of November, St. Martin’s Day, since around 1740. I went to watch. At the far end of the graveyard off Manor Road, four men were preparing the poppers.

Loading the Fenny PopperJust under an ounce of Pyrodex is poured into the cannon by Peter White.

Each one is shaped like a tankard, but they are made of gun metal with thick walls. There’s a touch-hole near the base for the fuse. Each popper is just seven inches long, but weighs 19 lbs.

Peter White of the church loaded them one at a time with just under an ounce of a gunpowder substitute, Pyrodex. It’s more stable than gunpowder, but like gunpowder it produces quite a lot of smoke when it goes off, as we will soon see.

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Bench Marks for North Bucks

Granborough Brook bridgeGranborough bridge. But what's that, bottom left?

What’s this strange metal object built into the bridge? It’s an Ordnance Survey Bench Mark, and it was put there for map making. The number 1967 isn’t the year it was installed; it was built into the bridge in about 1914.

Bench mark 1967The OSBM.

There are thousands of these bench marks in the UK, numbered in sequence on long surveying lines across the country.

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