Great Houses

A Manor With No Village


Foscote manor

The Monday Photo

There are manor houses all over England, and we have our fair share of them in North Bucks. One of them is Foscott Manor, near Maids Moreton.

There was a fine house here in 1333, but the present house dates from the 17th Century. It may have replaced that 14th Century house or perhaps an even later one.

I don’t think we’ll ever find out now but what we do know is that an Edward Grenville acquired the property in 1639.

He’s said to have had the present house built in 1656, however there’s an original staircase which the Grade II listing says was built in about 1640. This sort of thing is why we say things like “mid 17th Century”.

The house was very much enlarged and also restored in 1868 and 1908, though this front and the North East front round the corner to our right are from the original build.

The service wing we can see just to the right of the main house is, I think, also 17th Century. To its right and some distance further away is the stable block and coach-house, built in the late 19th Century. It has its own Grade II listing.

Foscott, Foscote or Foxcote, however you might spell it, is just a hamlet now. It’s the site of a lost village which was enclosed after 1625. The narrow, cattle gridded lane through the hamlet joins the Buckingham to Old Stratford road and there's a gate house, "The Lodge" at the junction.

There’s a few earthworks, though there may have been more evidence of settlement in what’s now the heavily landscaped parts of the Manor garden. It’s not unknown though for gardens like this to have paths and roads that partly follow the old village lanes.

It was a never a big village, and the clue is that the church, now a house, is quite small. I featured it in last week’s Monday Photo.

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Weathering North Bucks

Here’s a few shots from last week. There's a bit of a theme...

Pebble Alcove  StoweThis is the Pebble Alcove in the 18th Century gardens of Stowe. It was built in about 1737 and decorated like an Italian grotto; coloured pebbles are set into the rendering. It’s very charming, and as we found on a family picnic, the alcove is practical too; it can hold quite a few people when it rains.

The Peace Pagoda with bicyclesLater that day I was at Willen in Milton Keynes, for Hiroshima Day the 6th August each year. Usually the lantern ceremony is up at the Peace Pagoda, (in the background) then the lanterns are taken down the steps and floated out on to the Lake. This year, because of the dodgy weather, the ceremony was in the temple.
I stood and waited for the lantern procession and watched the cyclists.

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Bridge to Nowhere

Claydon House bridgeThe bridge. Claydon House is amongst the trees in the distance.

You might just have wondered why there’s a bridge beside the road, between Calvert and Botolph (pronounced ‘Bottle’ by locals) Claydon.

You may have imagined that the road’s been diverted since the bridge was built, as at Thornborough bridge (Scroll down at the link)

I don’t think it ever has. Instead, it forms a nice focal point for the last of the three lakes in the landscaped grounds of Claydon House. I also suspect that it hid the road at a point where you wouldn’t expect to see trees if there really was a small river there, instead of a minor stream.

The grounds were created between 1763 and 1776 for the impressive West front of Claydon House. This house was built by Ralph, the 2nd Earl Verney between 1757 and 1771 to rival Stowe House, a few miles away on the other side of Buckingham.

Some rooms in the West front are big enough to take the whole of the large three bed house I grew up in; roof, chimneys, the TV aerial and all, with ease. Claydon House is a Grade 1 listed National Trust property, open to the public.

Claydon House and churchClaydon House and church.

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