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April 2023

Saints and Corbels

The Nave  Wingrave  BucksViewed from the chancel, Wingrave's nave roof.

Wingrave’s church of St Peter and St Paul has 15th Century corbels and carved wooden figures under the main beams of the nave roof. Hard to make out from ground level, these close up photos reveal a wealth of detail.

There are twelve carved corbels and figures, so at first I thought they were the twelve apostles. But when got home and looked at my photos on the big screen, I saw that each one is holding some object that’s a clue to their identity.

Carving of St. Peter  Wingrave churchIn the front left corner of the nave, I think this is St Peter. He holds the key of heaven in his right hand, and a book, almost certainly the bible, in his left. I’m not sure what or who the corbel represents.

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Sit Like an Egyptian

The Egyptian Seat  Hartwell

The Monday Photo

This is Hartwell’s Egyptian Spring, but it’s not Egyptian. Some think it isn’t even a spring, but water runs through it which seems to feed a horse trough on the other side of the lane, just a little further down the slope.

The official listing describes Egyptian Spring as a seat, but the water enters it via a small channel and leads into a rectangular sump in the front middle of the floor. From there, another shallow channel takes the overflow to the front corner of the spring where it flows off and into a road drain. I think the water then goes into the horse trough across the lane.

You can see the sump and the drain in the photo. Water can be also be heard and sometimes seen a little further down the lane.

The seat is commonly thought to be Egyptian because of the frieze of hieroglyphics across the front, though it’s just made of brick and stone, covered in stucco.

I can’t really translate hieroglyphics (though I tried) but the frieze is said to state that the seat was built in the 13th year of Victoria’s reign. The second cartouche or oval ring seems to hold characters that phonetically spell out “Victoria”, and I think the number 13 is on the far left hand end.

The Greek inscription above is said by some to say “Water is best”, but putting those letters into an online translator produced either “Left with two” or “Left-handed two.

Well, I can’t translate Greek either, but that didn’t seem right. A bit more digging found that the Greek text is a quote from Pindar, a poet in Ancient Greece who lived from around 518 to 438 BC. It actually says: "Greatest however (is) water”.

The Egyptian Seat/Spring was erected in 1850 or 1851, and designed by Joseph Bonomi the Younger. He was one of those Victorian men who were good at many things; a polymath.

Bonomi was an artist, a sculptor, a draughtsman, a museum curator and an Egyptologist. He went to Egypt where he made drawings and watercolours of their pyramids and ancient temples, learning Arabic and wearing local dress. One sketch is labelled “Fragment of a red granite sarcophagus”. It’s drawn to  ¼ scale and the hieroglyphics are carefully drawn.

I didn’t think I’d ever mention Egypt or an Ancient Greek poet in a North Bucks Wanderer post, but it’s just another one of the rabbit holes I find myself in when doing research.

If you want to see the seat/spring yourself, it’s about a third of a mile down a narrow lane off the A418 in Hartwell. The lane is signposted “Hartwell House”, and “Lower Hartwell”; bear left after the bridge.

There’s a place to turn round a little further down the lane, which is a cul-de-sac. Other follies are available.

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Dragons at Bridge Lodge

Bridge Lodge  Eythrope
This Victorian era house was built for Alice de Rothschild around 1880-90, as a lodge or gatehouse for Eythrope Pavilion.

She had bought the Eythrope estate in 1875, a year after her brother Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bought the adjacent property, Waddesdon Manor. She built Eythrope Pavilion as a day retreat from the manor between 1876 and 1879.

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The Foolish Milestone


Eythrope milestone

The Monday Photo

I thought this might have been just another milestone, but there’s something strange about it.

The nearest similar milestone, like most, is set at 45 degree angle to the highway. It says “London 39” twice, on both the faces that can be seen from the road. On one of those faces it also says “Missenden 8”, on the other, “Aylesbury 1”

But this milestone is square to the lane, and only engraved on the front face. It seems to say:


As it’s five miles from that other milestone, I think it once read:

Miles to

If you don’t know Roman numerals, L = 50, X = 10, V = 5, and I = 1; there are other numerals. But the X is before the L, so that means 50 - 10; 40. The I before the V means 5 - 1; 4. So XLIV is 44 miles.

If instead the I was after the V to make VI, that would be 6;  so XLVI is 46. I’ll do a post another day fully explaining Roman numerals.

There seem to be no other markings anywhere on this milestone, and no local examples use Roman numerals or say “miles to”; they just give a place name and a number.

This stone is also on a back lane that doesn’t seem to have been a turnpike, though it goes between a couple of them. Other than that the lane just goes between two small villages. Why would it be placed here? Well, it’s a private lane now, though there’s public footpath access along it.

The lane is the drive to the late 19th Century Eythrope Pavilion; I believe the stone was placed by the lane as a curiosity. Like Dinton Castle, it’s a folly.

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Nope, there wasn't a post last Thursday; the week got away from me. Sorry folks! Anyhow, while I'm here, you may know the North Bucks Wanderer is on Facebook and Instagram, but now we have a Twitter account. Still learning the ropes, but it looks good and will spread the name of the blog around a bit more.

Usually there's a Monday photo; in theory an image with a longish caption though sometimes they get out of control, and a more involved post on Thursdays.

There's a lot of work involved in research, sometimes days of it for the Thursday posts. That means it'll stay at two posts a week; I can't devote any more time to the blog at the moment.

I also plan to modify the banner; it's been almost the same design ever since I started the NBW and it's time for a change.

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Pumping Iron

Village pump  Nash

The Monday Photo

This village pump is on a bend on the High Street at Nash. It’s one of two in the village; the other example is on Winslow Road, not far from the village pond.

Neither pump has a maker’s name, so they can’t easily be dated. But the pumps were certainly in use in the early 1900s, when villagers would fetch water with buckets, suspended from a yoke carried on their shoulders.

This pump is probably older. There were many makers of village pumps; many of them starting to manufacture them in the mid 19th Century.

Part of the industrial revolution, they used the new mass production techniques to improve lives, and in this case they filled the universal need for clean accessable water.

The pump still works, though it has a plaque warning that the water is unfit for drinking. Whether this is because the water has changed, or it’s just a precaution, I cannot tell.

Mains water came to North Bucks in the 1930s and I expect this is when these pumps fell out of use.

There are pumps at Quainton, North Marston (complete with a devil in a boot) and at Oving, amongst other places in North Bucks.



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