Monday Photo

Mind the Gap

Corrugated iron over thatch  North Marston

The Monday Photo

For me, growing up through the 60s in North Bucks this was a common sight; an ancient half timbered house or cottage with a corrugated iron roof.

Under the iron roof would be a thatched roof in poor condition; using corrugated iron sheeting was a cheaper way than rethatching to make a roof weatherproof again.

Of  course, most of these homes have since been rethatched, some more than once.

This house on the High Street in North Marston still has thatch under the sheeting, and it’s an unusual survivor of a different time. I’m quite pleased it’s like this.

Corrugated iron sheets were invented in 1829, then made of wrought iron. Later they were made of mild steel, once the Bessemer Process brought a cheap way to make steel in the mid 19th Century.

This timber framed house is late 16th or 17th Century and is ‘L’ shaped. You can just see the rear wing through the gap, and that it isn’t quite square on to the front part of the house. The first floor is leaning out a bit, too.

The rear wing’s roof is also covered in corrugated iron, as is what seems to be a single story outbuilding at the back. You can see both of these roofs if you walk a bit further along the High Street.

If you look very closely at the cottage on the right, you might be able to see that it’s also built with a timber frame. It has been refronted in brick to make it look more up to date. Though it’s not very obvious in this photo, the roof has a much gentler slope than the house next door, so it is likely to have always been slate.

I had intended to just take a shot of the whole of the house with its green “tin” roof, but I found this gap between it and next door more telling. There are details everywhere; all you have to do is look out for them.

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

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The Full Story

Mid 18th Century bank building

The Monday Photo

Yep, it’s another bank. I seem to be having a run on the banks recently. : )

But today we are just going to look at the building, not the history of the bank inside it. This is the NatWest bank at 80 High Street, Stony Stratford, now the only bank in the town since the Lloyds bank closed in September last year.

Unlike Lloyd’s across the road, 80 High Street was not built as a bank. It became the London and County bank around 100 years later, in the mid 19th Century.

Now Let’s Have a Good Look

There’s three columns in the foreground of today’s photo. The nearest one is at the end of a shop front, today an estate agent’s at 82 High Street. It’s paired with another column at the other end of their frontage.

The second and third columns flank the entrance to the bank. The columns are all the same design; that’s because this is one building.

But if you look up at the first and second floors, although the general design is the same there are differences between Nos. 80 and 82.

What’s the same?

The cornice, supporting the edge of the roof, is exactly the same. It continues without a break along No. 78 though that’s certainly a separate building; both are mid 18th Century. Were they once owned by the same people?

The sash windows are all at the same level throughout, suggesting that the floors in 80 and 82 match in height.

What’s different?

The columns in number 82 are set a little lower than the ones on the bank. I can’t see a structural reason for this.

But although the windows all share a similar design, the first floor windows above the estate agent’s are four panes wide and high instead of the three panes wide and four high you can see above the bank.

The brick face of the building above ground level is all of flemish bond; bricks laid alternately lengthways and end on, but only above the bank are the headers, the bricks laid end on, a different sort of brick. They are dark blue and form a regular pattern.

But the pattern is jumbled on the first floor, as if the wall there had been carelessly rebuilt.

It’s a mystery; the quality of the brickwork is good, but why didn’t they bother to reproduce the pattern?

It seems to me that there was a deliberate attempt to subtly differentiate between Nos 80 and 82, with No. 80 being the fine town house and 82 the commercial premises, a little plainer and with slightly different windows.

It’s easy to miss little details like these, especially if you just look at the shop fronts and not the buildings behind them.

This is the first post of 2022, and I have a few plans for what I’d like to do with the North Bucks Wanderer this year. Watch this space.

I used a Sony A6000 and zoom 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.

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Old Snow Coach

Turnpike bridge in the snow

The Monday Photo

There’s a good chance at least one of the Christmas cards you’ve had this year had a mail coach on it.

The coaches are almost always red, there’s a chap on the back blowing a horn, and the snow lays round about, deep and crisp and even.

These coaches relied on the turnpike roads to reach their destinations, because they knew they’d be maintained with the money turnpikes took from tolls. The bridge took the 1722 Wendover and Buckingham Turnpike across Shipton Brook, just down the hill from the hamlet of the same name, next to Winslow.

Here’s another view of Shipton Bridge in slightly warmer weather, and here’s one more, of the 18th Century arched bridge from the middle of the brook in mid summer.

I can just imagine four horses pulling a red coach over this bridge in the depths of winter. The horn is blowing. Everyone on the top of the coach has bundled up against the intense cold. The snow is at least a foot deep and there are no other wheel tracks.

This will be the last Monday Photo of 2021; I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off over Christmas and the first week of the new year, returning on Monday 10th January. But there’s one more Thursday post to go this year, on the 23rd of December. See you then.

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Church Flower

Ballflowers on pew

The Monday Photo

In the Decorated period of church design, (1280 to 1377) the favourite ornament was the ball-flower.

But this isn’t just a ball-flower, and it’s not from the Decorated period; it was carved in 1863 when this church was refurbished.

This is a closer look at the pulpit of All Saints, Hulcott, which I showed you last week. It’s an example of the Gothic Revival style.

A ball-flower or ballflower is a carved globular flower with three curved petals. They curve round a smaller globe in the centre, though this example isn’t very crisp now.

The four symmetrical petals you can see around this one aren’t seen in carvings from the Decorated period. The ballflower stands alone, usually in evenly spaced rows and sometimes alternating with other ornaments.

You are most likely to see them in the concave part of a decorative moulding around a column top or along a wall.

The ornaments of this pulpit alternate too. They are both carved inside the same square shape, so it’s not obvious at first. But this is where close study pays off; it’s finding those little details that make looking at churches so worthwhile.


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Camping for Cromwell

The Camp Barn  Steeple Claydon

The Monday Photo

In the middle of the English Civil War this 17th Century barn was nearly new; a modern building.

During that war, in early March 1644 Cromwell brought his men here to camp for the night. In the morning they would attack the Royalists at Hillesden, two miles away on the other side of the Great Ouse valley.

I think this barn was chosen to be one corner of his encampment. From this point Cromwell’s men could keep watch on the nearby road junction, where roads lead North and West towards Hillesden.


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A couple of hundred yards along the road to Middle Claydon is St. Michael’s Church. I believe that the church would have been the next corner of the camp.

The spire and tower, or steeple, of the church is 19th century, but the village has been called Steeple Claydon since well before then. I think there was a previous tower and spire; it would have made a good vantage point to watch out for attack from, especially as the church is right at the top of the hill.

South of the barn and church would have been the rest of the encampment, and there are earthworks labelled as intrenchments on older maps, now partly ploughed away.

There’s a bit of confusion about these though, as other earthworks from a shrunken Medieval village are also in this area. It might be that some of these were used to help defend the camp and reduce the amount of any digging that was needed.

The camp barn has a brass plaque in the gable end wall next to the road; you can see it in the photo.

The plaque hasn’t been polished for a long time and it’s almost unreadable from ground level. But I managed to decipher it by zooming in on a close up photo I took.

It says, in a gothic script complete with some oddly placed capital letters:

The Camp Barn.
Around this spot
The Army of the Parliament
under the command of Cromwell
was Encamped March 1644
And on the 3d of that month
Advanced from hence
to the attack on
Hillesden House.

Cromwell’s forces successfully attacked Hillesden before nine the next morning, usually said to be 4th March. But in a letter written by the Royalist Thomas Verney not long after he was captured, he wrote that the attack had been on the 3rd of the month; a Sunday.


I use Pentax cameras and lenses for the photos in this blog.

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Back on the Rails

Site of new Winslow station in 2009

The Monday Photo

Just on the left is where Winslow’s new railway station is being built.

It will give the town access to the East West rail project, and if you compare the photo with my more recent one of the recently cleared railway cutting, you’ll realise how overgrown it had become.

When I took this photo a dozen years ago I had no idea that the line was to be reopened. I had no idea that the iron footbridge I took this photo from was going to be demolished, either.

The brick bridge in the background is the one at the top of Winslow on the road to Buckingham.

This was the Buckinghamshire Railway. The first Winslow station was about a quarter of a mile beyond that bridge. It opened to passengers on 1st May 1850, and goods traffic began a fortnight later. The station would have sidings and a goods shed, and be quite an important station on the line.

At first the railway just connected Winslow with Bletchley and Banbury, but a year later the line to Oxford was finished and opened. The lines joined at Claydon Junction, renamed Verney Junction.

Winslow’s first station closed on 1st January 1968. I was eight, and unlike some boys I had little interest in trains. But I do remember walking across the fields to the iron bridge and watching the goods trains go by. In May 1993 the line closed to all traffic, after 145 years of service.

I was sorry to see the old iron footbridge go; it had been a landmark for me; a destination. It’s sad to see things from our childhood change or disappear, but this has always happened.

It might help to remember that whatever they are replaced with, it will be shaped by what had been before.


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

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