Monday Photo

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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Church Life

St Leonard's church  Foscote

The Monday Photo

St Leonard’s church became a house in the late 1970s, gaining an inserted floor above the nave and dormer windows in the roof. The chancel is now a living room.

This is the hamlet of Foscote, near Maids Moreton. You might find it spelt Foscott, or Foxcote. You might have guessed it means fox cottage/hut/shelter/den.

Old photographs show the graveyard in good order in 1945, albeit with the West wall covered in ivy. But by 1973 it was overgrown. The captions to photos taken in 1976 describe the church as derelict.

You can see these and other photos including interior shots at the link above, which takes you to Buckinghamshire County Council’s online collection of historic photos. Pick Foscott from the drop-down list.

This simple church was built in the 12th Century with just a nave and chancel. The chancel was extended in the 14th Century; the present chancel arch is from the same period, probably built at the same time. It’s a small narrow arch, most likely because the original arch was small and narrow too.

The porch is Tudor which makes it 15th Century; the outer doorway has that typical arch shape seen so often with Tudor work. The inner doorway is transitional; that is, built when styles were changing from the Norman to the Early English.

The church listing (it’s Grade II*) describes it:

“C12 S. (South) doorway has round moulded arch with nailhead ornament to outer moulding, carved impost blocks and stoup to right.”

Imposts are the blocks at the base of an arch. Stoups held holy water, and on entering or leaving the church a worshipper would dip the fingers of their right hand and make the sign of the cross.

As usual there’s a variety of window styles, many inserted after the original construction. There are several wide lancets which may well be the same age as the church; from the road and without going inside I cannot say for sure.

Of course, it’s a private house now so I doubt I ever will see the inside for myself. Oh well.

You may be concerned that this is not a functioning church any more, but there’s over 200 towns, villages and hamlets in North Bucks and most of them have a church; so I shouldn’t worry; at least it’s being looked after.

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How Winslow has Grown

Winslow development since 1950Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The Monday Photo

Not a photo this week, but a map. But it does give you a picture of how much things have changed in the town I grew up in, since this map was published in the early 50s. It also shows you the centre of the North Bucks area, on the right side of the map, about half way up.

I’ve shaded areas where land was developed since the map was printed, and I’ve outlined in red areas that had been built as far as I know, by the time I came to Winslow a few years later. Here's a key to the numbers on the map.

I moved to the town as a baby (with much help from Mum and Dad) in 1959. We lived in Church Street until not long after I started at the now closed primary school (6) in Sheep Street.

The Winslow County Secondary School opened in the same year we moved to Winslow. It would be a long time, as the oldest of three boys, before I was even aware of it.

We moved to Demoram Close. I wasn’t impressed, as this meant it was too far away from the school for me to come home for lunch. But the house did have a fine big garden.

This part of the map dates the its surveying to 1950 or 51; the houses on the West side of Demoram Close are shown, but the ones on the East side, including the house we lived in hadn’t been built by then. By the way, some of my uncles were bricklayers employed on the building of the close.

I’m not sure when the bungalows nearby at Tinkers End were built, but I remember them as a boy so I’ve outlined them in red, too.

The Elmfields Estate was established by 1965.

The railway station closed on 30th December 1967. I do remember it, but only after it was closed. The new station is now being constructed in the shaded area just to the North of the railway.

My primary school closed in the 1980s, with a new school being built on the Magpie Farm estate, between (4) and (5) on this map.

When it's helpful I’ll be showing you a few more maps like this, including some older ones, from now on.


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Modernised in the Past

17th Century cottages  Simpson

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Now on with the post…

This pair of timber framed cottages are on a side road which used to be the main road through Simpson village.

It used to be the road between Newport Pagnell and Fenny Stratford, which was diverted when a Milton Keynes grid road put an enbankment over the original route.

These cottages were built in the 17th Century but have since been refronted; the nearest cottage in the 19th Century, the furthest one in the 18th Century.

The bricks on the front of the closest cottage are greater in height than the ones in the far one; bricks have varied in shape over the centuries so this can be a good clue to the age of a wall, though not in this case to the age of the building.

Refronting was the modernisation of the times, though you can see here that the nearest cottage didn’t continue the work around to the gable end; it makes it obvious that the place has been refronted. The furthest cottage, it seems, did; no timber framework is visible in its gable end wall.

The thatched barn in the background is typical of the many barns that used to be in Buckinghamshire with its black painted weatherboarding.

Many of them were not thatched when I was a kid growing up in the 1960s and poking my nose into barns, but were roofed with corrugated iron, often painted black.

Like the cottages it is also timber framed and a listed building. You can find details of listed buildings in England online, and see for yourself what’s listed where you are. At the link, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are both listed under “South East”.


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I’m Back

Queen Eleanor  Stony StratfordThe Monday Photo

There’s been no posts here on the North Bucks Wanderer in recent weeks, as I’ve not been well. But I’m feeling much better now, and just in time for Christmas!

So here’s a Christmassy photo for you. This Stony Stratford mural was painted in 2018 by local artist Luke McDonnell. It’s of Eleanor of Castile, wife and Queen to Edward the First, and there was once a monument to her in the town.

Queen Eleanor died in December 1290 in Nottinghamshire, and her body taken the 200 miles back to London. The King had twelve crosses erected on the journey in her memory, all at places where the funeral party had halted for the night. Just three remain, all in Northamptonshire.

Nobody knows what happened to the Eleanor cross in Stony Stratford, but there’s a plaque (“Near this spot”) on a modern building near the North end of the High Street; it’s number 157.

The mural is on the gable end of the 17th Century house at 42 High Street, and faces on to New Street. It can be seen from the High Street, and is opposite the Old George Hotel.

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A Fresh Look

Sleeping ginger tom

The Monday Photo

I’ve been away on a break, to Warwickshire. There I visited my brother and his family, arriving around teatime on Thursday and driving back yesterday afternoon, getting home not long before it got dark.

The cat, who seems to have spent most of that time on the bed, has been very glad to see me back home. So here he is in today’s photo, on that bed.

During my visit we went to some of the local attractions, which meant I did far more walking than I’m used to; I don't usually walk too far.

Most of you don’t know that I had an accident about 17 years ago. My left foot was badly damaged and now I have to wear orthotic shoes; it restricts how far I can walk. This means that I’m wary about walking too far; if I over do it, I’m not just tired, it hurts; for hours. Sometimes it can still hurt the next day.

But on Saturday we all walked about five miles, some of it on steep slopes, and I was fine. A bit tired because I’m unused to such a distance, but I didn’t hurt. I needed a cup of tea, (don’t I always!) but that’s about all.

I think that a lot of this increased range is because I’ve been on a diet. I’ve lost about 2st 4lbs so far, with about another 2 stone to go.

Losing weight has made all physical activity easier, but until now I hadn’t realised by how much.

But how is this relevant to the North Bucks Wanderer? You see, I’ve been avoiding places of interest that are a long way from roads, thinking they are out of my range. You may have noticed. Now I know my range has increased, I can look at these places again.

That’s the thing about going away; when you get home, you look at everything with a fresh eye. Now I wonder, with that eye, what I’ll find next for the NBW.

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