The Distance Project 9

Social Distancing Project 74Dave Beckett sits in his back garden. and his next door neighbour Roger Ash has come to visit, bringing his own cup of tea. We have met Dave Beckett before. He was very pleased to know I remembered his dad Cyril, who was the baker in Winslow when I was a boy.

Little Horwood

There’s a huge amount of community spirit in the small village of Little Horwood. The villagers have pulled together to make life as pleasant as possible under lockdown. I have more photos from the village, which I'll most likely show you next week.


Social Distancing Project 75Chrissie Beckett, wife of Dave, has put out chairs so that villagers can come and chat while remaining at a safe distance. This is Penny Davis (left) and Karen Jones (right) Chrissie has organised quite a bit for the village, but is too modest to be in any of my photographs.

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What’s in a (Place) Name?

Lillingstone LovellLillingstone Lovell.

There’s over 170 towns and villages in the North Bucks area, and each one has its own name. But what do these names all mean?

Nearly every one started off as a brief but clear description of a certain place, usually in the words of Old English, the ancient Anglo-Saxon language that was in use from the 5th Century until about about 1250 A.D.

There’s a dozen with ‘ford’ in their name, (this is an easy one to guess) but there’s 19 with ‘den’ or ‘don’, (both mean ‘hill’) and a massive 36 with ‘ton’ in the name. ‘Ton’ means a settlement or a farm, perhaps a village or an estate; a place with buildings.

Often somebody’s name would be part of the description; so Haddenham is Haeda’s village or homestead. ’Ham’ means nearly the same as ‘ton’.

Of all the places with ‘ford’ in their name, the ones with ‘Stratford’ in the name mean a ford where a Roman road or street crossed a river or brook. Fenny Stratford was a muddy or marshy crossing; Stony Stratford was a gravelly one.

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The Year in Pictures

Here we are in 2020, a new year but not a new decade, no matter what they tell you! Today we are having a look at some of the highlights from the last twelve months, and a few photos from the archives.

The HighlightsWeeding on the allotmentNew Year’s day last year was a fine day for a motorcycle ride. Though not too warm, it was dry and sunny. I rode up to the classic vehicle show at Stony Stratford, and when it finished just before lunch time I took to the back roads and ended up in Olney.

On the way I stopped at Stoke Goldington when I saw this fellow working on his allotment. I think he was starting the year as he meant to go on...

Detail  Earthly Messenger statue 03The only statue of David Bowie in the whole world is in Aylesbury, and it was a year old in March. There were strong links between Bowie and Aylesbury’s Friars music venue, and when David Bowie passed away in January 2016 there was a memorial event that drew over 3,000 people. A petition to create a Bowie statue was started that day…

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Secrets of Haddenham

Dragon font  HaddenhamThe dragon font.

The village of Haddenham has over 120 listed buildings, and most of them are made of an unusual material; Witchert.

Witchert was cheap and available. It could be dug up out of the ground just where you wanted to build, so it was used for all sorts of buildings and walls up to about 1920. Here are some of them.

The shortest version of this walk is slightly over half a mile, or 900m; good if you are not too mobile. The longest version is a mile and a quarter, or 2.6 km.

To get there, take the A418 South West from Aylesbury, and when you get near to the village, a couple of miles off the main road, follow signs for Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital. Keep on past the entrance to Tiggywinkles and park next to the green; there’s a pond.

You might see some Aylesbury ducks at the pond; they used to be bred in the village. This breed is easy to recognise. The plumage is white, the bill is pink, and the legs and feet are orange. They are quite large, especially compared to the other ducks I saw on the pond. Ducks with an orange bill are not Aylesbury ducks.

Haddenham has often been a location for film and television. Eleven episodes of Midsomer Murders have been filmed here, and when Kermit, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo parachute into England in The Great Muppet Caper, it’s this pond they end up in.

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Secret Whitchurch

St John's church  WhitchurchThe church, at Whitchurch.

There’s more to the ancient village of Whitchurch than you might think, if you are just passing through. Amongst other things, hidden away are a secret World War 2 workshop, a castle, and a Tudor house that’s in disguise.

I parked on the High Street, facing towards Winslow, a little way North of the petrol station. I was right next to a post box. If you can’t find a spot there, try the side streets on the South (Aylesbury) end of the village.

Keep on the same side of the road and walk North towards the Winslow end of the High Street. There’s a long half timbered house on your left, just after the gentle left hand bend. This 16th Century house is now known as Winster Paddocks, but it was once a coaching inn called The Cock Inn, and from 1914 to 1989 It was a butcher’s shop.

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Lost Villages of North Bucks

There are many lost villages in England. Many people imagine they vanished because of the Black Death, but there are plenty of other reasons for villages to disappear. Here’s just a few of the lost villages that you can visit in North Bucks.

Tyringham and Gayhurst
Tyringham bridge and the house
Tyringham bridge, and the house.

In 1562 the Tyringham family had the seven farms in the village demolished so that they could extend the park land surrounding the manor house. The village had been emparked.

There’s no evidence that the village was rebuilt elsewhere. Emparking was common in England, and Gayhurst House, on the opposite side of the B road, is the site of another emparked village.

At Gayhurst, the village was rebuilt on what’s now the B526.

What’s there now?

Tyringham Hall and grounds (not open to the public) and the church. The graceful Tyringham bridge is Grade 1 listed.

Tyringham is a couple of miles North of Newport Pagnell, just off the B526. Turn right off this road, and drive through the gatehouse and over Tyringham bridge. The church is on the right, about 200 yards after the bridge.

The early 18th century church up by Gayhurst house is very fine, and there’s a magnificent Walnut tree not far past the gatehouse of Gayhurst House. The house is not open to the public.

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