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Biddlesden to Bufflers

Cross the new A43 at Abbey Farm, Syresham (SP 633 410) and the peace of the countryside will surround you, if you can avoid the grain lorries.  The seven-mile route to Buckingham is a great cycle ride; and it passes Stowe Park estate, treasure of the National Trust.  Most of this meandering road is also the Welsh Lane to London.


Biddlesden Park is the first poser.  The road goes to the east of it now, but did the droves?  The Jefferys map of 1770 (#1) shows a path to the west, and many who have lived in the area far longer than I tell me that, according to local tradition, the drovers went that way too, meeting up with the ‘modern’ road at the reverse-K shaped crossroads south of the park (SP 634 387), where there are some tall pines.


Also at the crossroads (#2) is the miserable stump of ‘Hangman’s Tree’1.  I wish I had a photo of the thing when it looked capable of hanging someone.


The road meanders on, lined with verges and oak trees (#3).  It passes Wood Green, where there were the remains of an alehouse until the late 1970’s, and almost hits Stowe drive.  Almost.  As the Welsh approached the majesty of the Temple family estates, they must have felt outclassed and outgunned, so they dived off to the right on to a green lane behind what is now the Welsh Lane Day Nursery (657 366) – see #4 – and emerged on the A422 just short of Bufflers Holt.


And that name is the second poser.  Did the Temple family of Stowe treat their newly-bought water buffaloes to a drink at the ford there (#5) before they entered the park?  (No joke: they did own such beasts.  But did they have them before 1771, when the area around the Robin Hood pub is referred to as ‘Bufflers’ Corner’?) 


The alternative is that ‘bufflers’ was local slang for Welsh cattle, ‘holt’ meaning ‘halt’.  But ‘buffle’ in the shorter OED is defined as ‘buffalo’, and it would be hard to confuse a Welsh runt with a buffalo, wouldn’t it…?

PS, Jan. 2013: I've just been told by Richard Wheeler, historian for the National Trust, that Sheahan's 'History of Buckingham' of 1862 has the following entry (page 323):
"Bufflers Holt Hamlet - this place consisted of a roadside public house and four or five cottages...The name is the corruption of Buffalo's Holt, or hold, so called by the country folk because the Duke of Buckingham formerly kept some of those animals there..."


To follow the trail, go to Buckingham 1.


1 For a discussion on gallows, see under Northants, Magpie to Syresham page.

Biddlesden to Bufflers image 1
Jefferys Map 1770
Biddlesden to Bufflers image 2
Hangman's Tree
Biddlesden to Bufflers image 3
Near Wood Green
Biddlesden to Bufflers image 4
Green Lane to the A422
Biddlesden to Bufflers image 5
Ford at Bufflers Holt