Buildings

Whose Barn? Down’s Barn!

The original Down's Barn

The Monday Photo

Until recently, I hadn’t visited this barn in decades. Back then in the mid 80s, the big doors were either wide open or missing and I don’t remember there being much else around it. Either way, this is where Milton Keynes’ Downs Barn estate got its name.

Down’s Barn wasn’t just a barn, but was several buildings ranged on three sides of a rectangle on the slope of a hill. This barn, the only building now remaining, marked the uphill edge of the rectangle.

The barns appear on an 1834 map, but the earliest record I could find of them being called Down’s Barn is on maps published around 1900. On the 1834 map there are also two similar clusters of buildings about half a mile away to the South.

These three clusters of farm buildings are all marked as “Barns” on the earlier map while farms are specifically named.

I think it’s quite likely that the farm buildings known as Down’s Barn were once a farmyard complete with farm house, but when the land was sold to another farmer they just became some more or less useful buildings away on a hill; I expect the other clusters could tell a similar tale.

Even maps from the 1950s show buildings on three sides of the farmhouse, but by the time I got there they were, as far as I remember, long gone.

The map from around 1900 seems to indicate that some of the buildings had open fronts; used to store equipment. Perhaps this made them less durable.

On the same map the nearest cluster is now called Manor Farm, a name it kept at least until the mid 1950s.

I did remember that Down’s Barn was high up on a steep hill and  the land sloped away to the Southeast to what’s now Campbell Park; the H5 (Portway) had not then been built. The land also slopes away to the Northwest and Northeast.

The farmyard, if that’s what it was, extended about a third of the way down what’s now an all weather playing surface; the barn is now a sports pavilion. The hedge behind the barn and another behind the camera were already there when Milton Keynes came along.

Why don’t you go and take a look? See if you can imagine what it once was like, when from this spot you could see the Grand Union Canal at the bottom of the hill, Moulsoe across the Ouzel Valley and to the North, Newport Pagnell.

I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens for this photo.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Lending Back

Rear of Central Milton Keynes library

The Monday Photo

Many of you will know this building well, but not from this angle.

From today’s photo you might think it’s some sort of research establishment and you’d almost be right. You might also think it’s set in park land, but you’d almost be wrong.

This is the rear of the Central Milton Keynes library, just across Silbury Boulevard from the shopping centre.

Buildings and car parks surround the library, though there’s a small piece of park land too, at the back. The library has many sources; maps, books, leaflets with information that is just not available online, and that’s where research comes in.

I go there when my own books or the internet can’t tell me what I need to know for a post on the NBW.

The library was finished in 1981, but the building has never been completed. The plan had been to greatly enlarge it, to provide a museum and Civic offices. This plain and functional looking rear wall would have been in the middle of the finished complex.

Nothing came of the museum, but MK council’s Civic offices were built on the next block along instead of here.

There’s a single story plant room, visible in the photo; you can see a double door facing the camera. If the extension plans had gone ahead this plant room would have been inside the completed complex; instead it remains separate.

The library has been a Grade 2 listed building since 2015, but the plant room is not included in the listing.

The building is a bit odd inside, though you may not have realised. There are huge spaces or voids in the library, there to vary ceiling heights.

At one time they were not at all accessible, and when all the libraries in the district had new fire alarm systems installed, this library had to wait until access ways were installed.

Next time you are in Central Milton Keynes, why don’t you take a look at this building? Have a look round the back, too. See if you can imagine what it would have looked like complete.

I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens for this photo.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


On the Market

Bell Alley  Winslow

The Monday Photo

At the bottom of Winslow High Street is the Bell Hotel. At one end of the hotel is Bell Alley, and that’s where we are standing.

The Bell can be seen in the photo; the white gable end of the front range at centre bottom, and the five windowed brick building to its right; once the farmer’s bar, well used on market day.

The first detailed reference to the Bell was in 1591, though the present timber framed building is listed as being 17th Century. It was refronted in the 19th Century. At least some interior walls are wattle and daub.

On the right of the photo is what was once another pub; the 17th Century George Inn. Not to be confused with the present day George nearby, it spent some time as a workhouse. It is now a restaurant and part of the Bell. This alley was once known as George Alley.

Centre left of the photo is the 1870 ironmonger’s shop built by W.H. French. The Midgeley family later took the shop over and ran it as an ironmonger’s for a century. I think the building far left is part of it.

This shop and all the other buildings in this block, once known as the Buttermarket, were built on the once much larger Market Square, as were the block across the road that includes the modern George pub.

You might find similar encroachments were made on the market in your own town. If so, please let me know in a comment.

 

This post's photo was taken with a Pentax camera and fisheye zoom lens.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Swan Upping

Swan on Buckingham Town Hall

The Monday Photo

If you stand in the Market Square in Buckingham and look up at the town hall, you’ll see this fine swan, made from painted copper. It’s on the bell turret at the top of the building.

The bell turret is lead covered oak; the clock face added in 1882.

This swan is also a weathervane, and if you go to Buckingham you’ll probably find it’s pointing in a different direction when compared to this photo.

In 1996 the swan underwent restoration; in this photo I took from ground level with a long lens, it still looks good.

You probably know that the swan is a big part of the coat of arms of Buckingham and of Buckinghamshire, and also features on the county flag.

Buckingham’s town hall was built in 1783, replacing another one less than a hundred years old which had got into a very poor state.

The new building incorporates a staircase from the 1685 town hall, which had been positioned a bit further North than the present one.

The roof on the right hand end of the town hall oversails the wall below by a long way, because Castle street was widened by cutting back the North end of the building. Castle Street is the road to Chipping Norton, Bicester, and Oxford.

This road widening was completed before 1925, but probably after powered vehicles were becoming more common. I’d guess it was in the first quarter of the 20th Century. In 1903 at Winslow a house was cut in half to widen the road. 

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


XS Movement

Wall tie  Stony Stratford

The Monday Photo

You’ve probably seen large metal ‘X’ and ’S’ shapes on old buildings and wondered what on Earth they were for.

They are there to hold the wall up, fixed on to the building to stop the walls bulging or even falling down.

They are anchor plates. For every one you’ll see on the front wall of a building, there will be another one round the back; they come in pairs. Connecting each pair is a wrought iron rod running through the building. It has threaded ends.

Large nuts ( there’s a square nut on the one in today's photo) are tightened up on these ends to clamp the anchor plates against the outside walls, to hold them in. There are very often several to be seen together, to spread the load.

But this one is a bit of a mystery; it’s not on a building but on a wall in an alley, just off Stony Stratford High Street; it’s a garden wall. There isn’t an anchor plate on the other side of the wall, just a rusty metal stump; the remains of the tie rod. Where was the other anchor plate?

Now here’s a strange thing: although this face of the wall is stone, the other face is brick, matching the house on this plot. I think the stone wall is the only remaining trace of a house that stood here before the present brick one, Tower House. The brick facing is just to match the house, the other wall and the entrance pillars.

There are records of a previous house on this spot, destroyed by one of the town’s great fires in 1742. It seems it was at least partly of stone and had started to bulge before it burnt down.

The alley leads to the tower of St Mary Magdalene Church, all that’s left of it after the same great fire. On the other side of the alley is the Car Spares MK shop.

There you go, all this from a simple piece of iron.

Tower House was built in 1746, but has been much altered since.


I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens just like this one for the photo in this post.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Take Your Time

There are lots of little details to be found when looking round towns or villages, and getting a closer, slower look at something you don’t quite understand can be very rewarding.

If you are still not sure what you are seeing, take a photo; it can help you to find out more once you get home.

Here’s a few examples I found, on just one day this week.

Congregational chapel  Great Horwood

Continue reading "Take Your Time" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe