Sunday, December 18, 2005

Buckinghamshire - 17 December 2005

It was another beautiful winter weekend: crisp frosts and beautiful sunny days, so we had to venture forth.

Saturday morning saw us up and about and out walking bright and early near a village called Whiteleaf CrossPrinces Risborough. The walk started at the top of Whiteleaf hill so the first stop was at the top of the cross.
Towering above the hamlet and visible up to 30 miles away is a gigantic cross cut into the chalk hillside. It is 80ft long, 72ft across and stands on a triangular base measuring 340ft across. The purpose of Whiteleaf Cross is unclear but it is worth notingWhiteleaf Cross from the top that the cut cross itself is exactly the same size as a similar figure above Bledlow and that, perhaps, these two landmarks were carved as a pair to mark the Risborough valley gap and a dry and safe trade route to the River Thames and London. Interestingly the earliest reference to Whiteleaf Cross is from 1742. On the hill alongside the cross are the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds which indicate the long history of this area.”

The next ancient landmark on the walk was Grim’s Ditch: an ancient earth work which, at the point where we encountered it, had a definite right-angle corner. Grim's Ditch
The date of this earthwork is uncertain, being either Iron Age or Saxon in origin. It is most likely a territorial boundary and can be traced across the Chilterns from Berkhamsted to Bradenham. The section of the ditch in Great Hampden parish is thought to have particular significance as it incorporates a sharp angled turn. The linear nature of the ditch implies open country at the time of origin as clear sighting lines would have been necessary during construction.”

A stile all of its own?The last ancient feature of the walk was the Black Hedge; “a boundary hedge of considerable size and antiquity. Hedges have long been used as a means of marking estate boundaries, in this instance, the estate of the Abbey of St Albans. The Black Hedge is one of the earliest boundary hedges to have been recorded in the country, being referred to in a Saxon Charter of AD 903.”

Lunch was a pleasant stop at The Wool Sack; then off to Waddesdon Manor for a look at the Waddesden Manormanor decorated for Christmas. The theme was to follow the footsteps of the Three Kings and find the belongings that they had left behind. The decorations were sumptuous, “fit for a King” and the room weWaddesden Manor Christmas lights liked best, apart from the blue dining room with its fantastic modern chandelier (made from broken china and cutlery), was the guest bathroom in the Batchelor Apartments. There were 2 large camels by a bathtub full of “Asses milk”. One of the “King’s” robes & Turkish slippers were draped over the chair.

No comments: