Villages

A Retired General in WW2

Bletchley's old police station and courthouseThe nearest part of this range, with the three upstairs windows, was the old Bletchley Police Station. Here were the headquarters of A Company, Bletchley Home Guard.

By Guest writer John Taylor (Not John O'Hara as previously stated; sorry John Taylor)

This is part two of three. Part one was two weeks ago; A Naval Man in Buckinghamshire.

It was 1939. In September, six months after General Harold Blount had retired, war with Germany had been declared. Harold Blount was then sharing Woughton House in Woughton on the Green with his brother Oswald.

Their domestic staff comprised of a cook, two housemaids, a parlour maid, and a kitchen maid. The house also accommodated, for Bletchley Park or one of the other secret organisations now in North Bucks, two secretaries, ‘Civilian Admiralty NI’. That is, Naval Intelligence.

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A Higher Plain

Church of St Nicholas  Cublington

The Monday Photo

In the middle of the 14th Century, the Medieval village of Cublington finally ceased to exist.

The village had long suffered from sodden and unworkable land, brought on by a change in the climate; it was now destitute and nearly deserted.

It’s thought that the Great Pestilence of 1348-50 killed off the few villagers that were left, and so Cublington was abandoned. You might know the pestilence better as the Black Death.

Entering the country through Weymouth in Dorset, this plague killed between 30 and 50% of the population. It’s common to be told that the many deserted Medieval villages in the UK were lost because of plague, but villages were abandoned for many other reasons too.

With a much reduced English population it’s no wonder Cublington remained deserted for nearly sixty years, until the church of St Nicholas was built in about 1400, on higher, dryer ground at the top of the hill. The new village grew up around the church.

St Nicholas’ was built using materials from the old church, and orange-red roof tiles, placed in groups in place of stone blocks, can be seen in the external walls all around the church; you can see some in the photo.

In the vestry is a parish chest from the old church, believed to have been made in the 12th or 13th Century.

Though restored, the church still retains its original simple layout, but with the addition of a 19th Century South porch. There’s a North porch too, (used as a vestry) but I don’t know when it was built. I like the elegant proportions of the tower.

The church is generally locked, but you’ll find that two keyholders are listed on a sign on the South porch. Worth a visit.

I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens for this photo.

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A Beacon for the Queen

At Mill Hill  Quainton for the Jubilee BeaconLocals gather on Mill Hill high above the village to see the Jubilee Beacon lit. In the middle distance you can see the windmill and church.

There were beacons lit for the Platinum Jubilee on Thursday evening, all over the UK and the Commonwealth. This is what I saw at Quainton.

Waiting for the Jubilee Beacon  QuaintonInside the temporary fence, these men wait to light the beacon.

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A Box of Books

 

Phone box library  Chilton  Bucks

The Monday Photo

This phone box library is in the small village of Chilton, on a bend opposite the entrance to Chilton House and the Gatehouse.

This phone box (or kiosk) is a type K6. Introduced in 1936, 60,000 had been installed by the time a new design, the K8, was introduced in 1968. About 11,700 K6 boxes are still in place.

The completed box weighs about three quarters of a ton, not surprising when you know that the sides and top are cast iron, and the door is made of teak. This one is a listed building, but many are not.

Communities or registered charities can adopt a phone box from British Telecom and it costs just £1. Over 5,000 have been adopted already, and there’s another 5,000 still available.

They are boxes that BT no longer wants to use on their network. Some are made into mini libraries like this one, some house defibrillators.

The only other phone box library in North Bucks, as far as I know, is in Gawcott. An original phone box for the village in a different spot had previously been removed, so the village bought a complete used phone box and had it installed in Main Street.

This cost them a lot more than £1. I don’t know how long it’s been there, but it wasn’t there last time Google Streetview toured the village. You’ll find it opposite Old Barn Close.

If you know of any more phone box libraries in North Bucks, please leave a comment.

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Post Round

Nether Winchendon church and postbox

The Monday Photo

Here are two listed buildings for the price of one! The parish church of St. Nicholas in Nether (sometimes called Lower) Winchendon is 13th Century and Grade 1, but this stone pillar with a Victorian postbox is 20th Century and Grade 2. The pillar is what we are looking at today.

The pillar was designed by the noted architect Philip Tilden, probably while he was handling the restoration of the village’s ancient Nether Winchendon House.

It was erected in the middle of the village in the 1920s, on a grass triangle in the middle of the road junction. Older photos don’t show a postbox on the triangle, but old maps seem to show a postbox on the edge of the junction, perhaps where this postbox previously sat.

This postbox dates from about 1861, and is cast iron. It was made by Smith & Hawkes of Birmingham, and their name is cast into the bottom of the box. Boxes like this are long lasting and still fairly common.

Next time you post a letter, take a look at the postbox; letters on the box will tell you under which monarch the box was installed. There’s usually a crown; either between the letters or above them. The R either stands for Regina (Queens), or Rex (Kings).

These are the letters you’ll see on postboxes, and the dates those monarch reigned, although the first boxes under Queen Victoria were not installed until 1853. Edward VIII boxes are very rare because he reigned for less than a year, and I’ve heard there’s just one example of those boxes in North Bucks.

VR                  1837 to 1901            Victoria 

ER VII            1901 to 1910            Edward VII

GR                  1910 to 1936            George V

ER VIII           1936 only                Edward VII

GR VII            1936 to 1952           George VI

ER II               1952 to date           Elizabeth II

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Secrets of Quainton

Quainton's cap millThe cap and fantail of Quainton's windmill.

The Green

Quainton is very well known for its many half timbered buildings. I can’t tell you about you about all of them, but when you see them around the village, just assume they are 17th Century; you’ll almost always be right.

This walk is three quarters of a mile long mile, or a mile and a half if you choose to do the long version with the views. You can usually park on the Green (See the map), and this walk starts on the lowest point of the triangular grass part of the Green.

At your feet is a manhole. It’s not very old, but it’s where one of a system of village pumps once stood. If you listen carefully, you may be able to hear running water. The pump on this spot was the second one in line; you’ll find the first one on Church Street.

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