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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Reinstated mile post  Hillesden

The Monday Photo

Many milestones and mileposts have gone missing over the years, but this is the one that came back.

This steel milepost had been installed at Hillesden by Bucks County Council in the late 19th or early 20th Century. It’s the type known as a Bucks Pressing. It went missing thirty years ago and wasn’t seen again until a householder in Oxfordshire found it hidden in the hedge in their garden, in a very bad state.

The milepost had vanished (I presume stolen) in the early 1990s; about half the length of the milepost is underground so it must have been quite a job to remove it.

The householder approached Peter Gullard of the Milestone Society when he was out in their county, who contacted the Buckinghamshire Council Archaeology Service (BCAS) in July 2021.

“Brill” and “Buckingham” were just visible on the rusty, paint faded sides of the milepost, and “Hillesden” could just be seen in the curved top. That was enough to work out where it had come from.

In January last year the milepost was taken from the house in Oxfordshire to D. Moss, Blacksmith in Thame to be restored. Peter Gullard funded the restoration works.

On October 25th that year the milepost was reinstated. It’s by the turning to The Hamlet (a sign says  “Hillesden Hamlet Only”) on an unclassified road between Gawcott and Edgecott. It is three miles from Buckingham and thirteen miles from Brill.

The milestone is a bit unusual, because it is on a road that was never a turnpike. It’s a different story from the milestone at Winslow I showed you last week.

You can find the location on Google Maps easily enough, but the milestone must have been put back after their last pass with the camera car; it isn’t yet visible on Streetview.

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You Are Here

Moved milestone  Winslow  Bucks

The Monday Photo

At Winslow recently to photograph the New Track Construction Machine laying a new railway line as far as the town’s new station, an elderly lady pointed out this milestone.

As I grew up in Winslow I’d known about this stone for years, but as she said, it’s unusual for the distance to anywhere to be “0” miles.

That’s how far this stone says it is to Winslow. It seems obvious that you’ve reached the town now, but when this probably 18th Century milestone was erected Winslow was a quarter of a mile away, out of sight on the other side of the hill. 18th Century milestones were erected on turnpikes; main roads that travellers had to pay to use.

The new Wendover & Buckingham turnpike through Winslow, now part of the A413, opened in 1721. But I think this example is later, no earlier than the opening of the Buckingham, Brackley and Banbury turnpike in 1791.

It was then 23 miles to Banbury from this point, as far as I can make out; the roads have changed a lot since the 18th Century.

With eight turnpikes leading from the town Banbury was a major connection on the turnpike network, probably why it’s on a milestone by a turnpike that doesn’t actually go there. Of course London was, and still is, a major destination; that’s why it’s on this marker too.

 Moved Again?
This milestone has been moved a couple of yards; it used to be at one end of the bridge parapet until recently. Being of suspicious mind, I wondered if had also been moved when the railway came through the town, so that it wasn’t in the middle of the bridge.

I can’t say for sure, but the pre-railway, Ordnance Survey Old Series maps seem to show it more to the South, probably within the 200’ width of the cutting.

This milestone is in the design known as Aylesbury Square, as are most or all of the milestones between Aylesbury and Buckingham. But starting with this one and heading towards Buckingham, Banbury starts to be mentioned.

The milestone at Shipton, the next one towards Aylesbury, has on it Buckingham 7, London 50, and Aylesbury 10, but no mention of Banbury. There’s also no mention of Winslow, though the milestone is still in the parish. Perhaps it’s part of an earlier batch.

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