Churches

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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History Free

Lord Cobham's monument at StoweThe 115 foot tall Lord Cobham's monument at Stowe, Buckinghamshire was completed by 1749.

Coming up in the North Bucks Wanderer’s area in mid September are a long list of open days, and they are all listed on the Milton Keynes Heritage website. Not all these events are in Milton Keynes; they are also as far apart as Cosgrove, Olney, Stowe, and Winslow, amongst others.

As I grew up in Winslow, I’m interested in the events in the town. On Saturday the 14th of September are four events to see and do.

Open from 2 ‘till 5pm is 28 High Street, the Winslow Rural District Council offices when I was a boy. It now belongs to Winslow Town Council; it’s a Victorian building, I think.

The interior of Keach's Meeting House  WinslowThe interior of Keach's Meeting House.

Keach’s Meeting House is also open from 2pm to 5pm. It was built as a Nonconformist Baptist’s chapel in 1695. It’s tiny. The entrance is in Bell Walk, next to Limes Court.

Also open from 2 to 5 is the Brownie and Guide Hall. It’s in Church Street. Built in 1865 as the National School for Girls, it was bought by the Winslow Girl Guides in 1958. I was a baby when we moved to Church Street a year later, and you can read all about what I used to get up to as a small boy here. (But not until tomorrow morning, when that post is published here on this blog)

The solid garden gate to one side of the entrance used to lead into the vicarage garden, and I used to play with the vicar’s son in there, when I was a bit older.

See my next post (coming up tomorrow) on what I was like as a small boy in church Street.

Japanese visitors at Keach's Meeting House  WinslowI took this family from the Fukishima region of Japan and a local Japanese nun on a history trail around Winslow. This was in 2013, at Keach's Meeting House.

At 5pm there’s a History Walk, which lasts about an hour. Starting in the ancient centre of the town, you’ll never be further than 100 yards from the Market Square on the walk. It starts from outside Keach’s Meeting House. The History Walk is also on Thursday 19th.

There’s no need to book for any of these Winslow events, but some of the other heritage events require booking; check on the website.

The Bourbon Tower  at StoweThe Bourbon Tower at Stowe, Buckinghamshire. It was built in 1741 as a Keeper's Lodge.

It’s a busy day on the 14th. Also open (for example) from 10am to 4pm is All Saints Church, Bow Brickhill. They say that the tower stairs are very steep and narrow, but the views are outstanding.

On Friday 20th, the Cowper and Newton Museum in Olney are having an open day, while at Stowe on Sunday 22nd, they are doing free taster tours of the house, and free entry to the grounds.

In and around Aylesbury are more events:

You can visit RAF Halton’s Officer’s Mess.
There’s a Drawn to the Chilterns art exhibition in Wendover.
The 13th Century St Mary’s Church in Pitstone  has an Open Day.
A Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel will be open, at Waddesdon Hill.
There’s a round dozen events in Aylesbury, including Open Days at the ancient King's Head pub, a Quaker meeting house, and the huge council tower block in the centre of town that some call Pooley's Folly. I've got a lovely photo of that building somewhere, but I couldn't find it for you.

There’s lot’s to see and do, and you can find out more on the main Heritage Open Days website.

 


The Ancient Village of Ickford

Tales From The Edge
This is an occasional series where I go to the edge of North Bucks and show you what I've found.

Inside:outside Ickford churchInside/outside the church.

Right on the bottom left hand edge of the North bucks area is the village of Ickford. You can walk half a mile South from the village towards Tiddington, but when you cross the 17th Century bridge over the River Thame you’ll find yourself in Oxfordshire. The river valley is shallow here, the land almost flat.

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The Cathedral in the Fields

Cathedral in the Fields  HillesdenHillesden church, "The Cathedral in the fields"

I’d been out on the bike, to cover the first anniversary of the unveiling of the David Bowie statue in Aylesbury; I posted about it last week. Now it was late afternoon, and I had other things to see some miles away; the sun was dropping in the sky.

From Aylesbury, (see my post earlier this week) I headed South through Stoke Mandeville. My destination was Hillesden. It's in the opposite direction, but I was out on the bike, and I like to take an indirect route, riding along the back roads as much as possible.

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