Buckingham Society Lecture and Garden Party 20th July 2023


The annual lecture was held in the Vinson Centre Auditorium and was attended by over 100 people, both members and non-members. The lecture was given by Dan Winter, Head Gardener at Evenley Wood.
Dan said that he had been at Evenley since November 2020. We learned that Evenley Wood Garden is set amongst the beautiful Northamptonshire
countryside, and is 60-acre of privately owned woodland garden containing a large and notable collection of plants; ranging from rare and unusual trees and shrubs to a wide selection of snowdrops, lilies and other bulbs. The garden’s unusual area of acid soil, in this otherwise predominantly alkaline area, provides us the opportunity to grow plants such as rhododendrons, camellias, and magnolias, which would not ordinarily thrive in this location. It was a fascinating lecture stimulating many in the audience to plan a future visit.

Following the lecture the annual garden party was held in the Vinson Building Foyer. There was a generous array of canapes and drinks enjoyed by the 60 guests.



Buckingham Society AGM Report 26 November 2022

The Society held its AGM on 26 November at the University of Buckingham’s Vinson Centre under the (acting) chairmanship of Ian Orton.

Around 40 members attended the meeting, although this number could have been inflated by non-members who had come to listen to Warren Whytes talk, which immediately followed.

Mr Orton gave a comprehensive report of the Society’s activities for the year supplemented by contributions by Gill Jones, the membership secretary and David Child, the treasurer.

Gill reported that we now have 193 members compared with 179 a year ago.

According to David the Society finances are in a healthy state. As a consequence there is no need for an increase in subscriptions.

Mr Orton reported that following the end of the Covid-19 pandemic normality had returned with both the executive committee and special interest group meeting on a physical, rather than a virtual, basis.
More importantly, for the second year in succession, the Society was able to reinstate both the annual garden party and lecture as well as the AGM.
For the second year running the Society had a stall at the Celebrate Buckingham Day complete with a Roll the Dice game. This attracted a lot of interest as well as generating new members.
Other social events the Society oversaw during the course of the year included another very interesting tree walk led by Michael Hunt in May.
Michael, one of our members, once again demonstrated his amazing knowledge of our local trees, one of the defining characteristics of the town. Going forward, with Michael’s help, the Society would like to organise more tree walks along with more talks and events.
The Society once again ran its Buckingham Trader of the Year Competition with Smith and Clay winning the title in 2022. Looking forward the Society would like to resume its Buckingham Conservation Awards.
As mentioned above we were again able to reinstate the annual garden party and lecture.
This year, the ever popular Barry Smith, the head gardener at Stowe gave the lecture. The garden party took place in the gardens of Ondaatje Hall, now the home of Professor James Tooley, the University’s vice-chancellor and his wife Cynthia.
Land use planning-related matters continue to dominate the Society’s activities and the annual report outlined both the scope and range of its activities along with the challenges faced going forward.
All the existing members of the executive committee agreed to stand for re-election and were elected unanimously.
Ian Orton was elected as chairman, a post which has remained vacant since the previous AGM.

Warren Whyte lecture on Sir George Gilbert Scott and his work in Buckingham – 26 November 2022

Sir George Gilbert Scott and his work in Buckingham
Born on 13 July 1811 at Gawcott, Sir George Gilbert Scott went on to become one of the most celebrated and prolific British architects of the nineteenth century.
Best- known as an exponent of the English Gothic Revival, which dominated architectural style during the middle decades of the century designed many well-known public buildings, churches and memorials..
These include the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station, the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices in Whitehall, King’s College London, St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh and the Albert Memorial.
He also restored and extended a plethora of older buildings, many of which were churches.

As Warren Whyte pointed out in the lecture that followed the Society’s annual general meeting on 26 November, Scott was active locally, not least in Buckingham where he was involved in the design or restoration of four buildings, three of which are still in use.
These are the Old Latin School on Market Hill; the Old Gaol and the parish church of St Peter and St Paul. The fourth building, the Union Workhouse no longer exists..
Together with his friend Sampson Kempthorne, Scott was responsible for the many of the workhouses that appeared in the wake of the Poor Law Reform Act of 1834
Ours was located on a site at the top end of Mary McManus Drive and built in 1836. It was one of Scott’s earliest works.
Three years later he designed an extension of the Old Gaol, including the gaoler’s house at the south end of the building, along with other alterations.
His biggest project in the town was the restoration of the parish church during the 1860s. This, as Warren explained, was in a very poor state of repair and required extensive buttressing to prevent collapse.
Scott did much more than this, however, and effectively transformed a church originally built in the classical style that typified the Georgian era to something more akin to English Gothic.
The restoration included the construction of a new chancel, new windows, a new south porch and turret along with new internal piers and timber vaulting throughout.
Scott’s final project in the town was further restoration work at the Old Latin School.
George Gilbert Scott will always be associated with the English Gothic revival. But as Warren pointed out he incorporated many new techniques and materials in his designs that still impress and delight today.

“Trees at Stowe” The Buckingham Society Annual lecture and Garden Party Thursday 14th July 2022

The Society’s annual lecture was held in the auditorium at the University of Buckingham Vinson Building. The speaker was Barry Smith, National Trust Head Gardener for Stowe and Aylesbury Vale. He proved to be a well informed and enthusiastic speaker, having worked at Stowe for his whole career. He gave a fascinating account of some of the unique and beautiful trees in the enchanting grounds of Stowe. Many of those who had the privilege of hearing him said that they were inspired to visit Stowe and explore.

The garden party which followed the lecture was held in the gardens of Ondaatje Hall with the kind permission of Professor James Tooley, the University Vice Chancellor. The event was attended by 70 members and guests, who were able to use the opportunity to explore the hall’s beautiful and extensive gardens, whilst enjoying drinks and canapes.

The evening continued the proud tradition of delightful Summer parties held by the Society and (as is also traditional), many guests were extremely reluctant to leave!

Trader of the Year 2022

After two years when the Buckingham Society Buckingham Trader of the Year shield was awarded to all Buckingham Traders to recognise the difficult time they had during the Covid pandemic, it was back to normal for 2022. Members of the Society were asked to nominate their favourite trader from all of the shops, cafés, restaurants, market traders in Buckingham – a very difficult choice from such a large number of excellent traders.

Unsurprisingly there was a wide range of nominations, and after a very close vote, the eventual winners were Smith and Clay, Buckingham’s town centre butcher and delicatessen. The award was given to them for providing outstanding service, quality produce and helping to keep Buckingham a great place to live.

Receiving the award for Smith and Clay Fallon on the left and Pat on the right.

The presentation took place in Bourton Park on Celebrate Buckingham Day and Fallon and Pat, managers respectively of the delicatessen and butchery sides of the business, were on hand to receive the winner’s shield and certificate on behalf of everybody connected with Smith and Clay. Congratulations to them all.


Buckingham Tree Walk 1st May 2022

Although the weather was not as kind to us as it might have been, those of us who went on the most recent of the popular tree walks organised by the Buckingham Society and led by Michael Hunt, were rewarded with an interesting and informative two hours. The walk covered the trees in the Heartlands (across from the bridge from Cornwalls Meadow) via the old churchyard, and part of the University of Buckingham campus, ending up in Chandos Park.

It would be fair to say that Michael’s breadth of knowledge outstrips this writer’s capacity to retain more than a tiny portion of the details given to us, but the overpowering impression that does remain is that Buckingham has a wonderful range of trees; something we must ensure remains the case as the town grows. There will be further walks in due course, and everyone is encouraged to join at least one of them when the opportunity presents itself.

Anthony Ralph



Presentation at Post Office the Gingerbread House on Thursday 7th October to Sunil and Rita Gandhi

After 17 years in Buckingham, Sunil and Rita Gandhi left the Post Office at the Gingerbread House for the last time on Monday October 11th.

Throughout those 17 years Sunil and Rita provided a simply brilliant service to all of their customers as could be seen from the great tributes posted on Facebook where people almost queued up to sing their praises. Always ready with a smile, a kind word and good advice, Sunil and Rita will be missed.

To mark the occasion of their leaving, at the suggestion of Buckingham Society member Una Robinson the Society presented Sunil and Rita with a framed print showing a series of pictures of notable Buckingham buildings.

The print was taken from an original painting by Buckingham Society member Peter Bowtell.
The picture shows Una with Rita and Sunil and Society Membership Secretary Gill Jones.