Buckinghamshire walk – September 2017

Head towards Winslow for a North Buckinghamshire walk through the neighbouring villages of Swanbourne and Mursley

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Written history about Swanbourne can be traced back to 792 when it was mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon charter of King Offa; at this time it was known as ‘Suanaburna’ which probably means ‘peasant’s brook’. More recent is the village church, St Swithun’s, which dates from the early part of the 13th century, although it probably stands of the site of an earlier church.

St Swithun's Church, Swanbourne
St Swithun’s Church, Swanbourne

Inside there are a number of memorials to the Freemantle family, including Admiral Thomas Freemantle.

One of the memorials to Sir John Fortescue inside the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Mursley
One of the memorials to Sir John Fortescue inside the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Mursley

Thomas Freemantle and his wife, Elizabeth, bought the neighbouring Swanbourne House in 1798; the Freemantle family still own the building although it now houses a school. The village pub, the Betsey Wynne, is named after Elizabeth Freemantle (nee Wynne), who was known as Betsey. The daughter of the John Tapling Freemantle, 5th Baron Cottesloe, Elizabeth “Betsy” Freemantle, married the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith in 1982.

The picturesque fishing lake on the way to Mursley
The picturesque fishing lake on the way to Mursley

After leaving the village, the walk meanders its way through fields, passing a picturesque fishing lake, to arrive at the neighbouring village of Mursley.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin at Mursley
The Church of St Mary the Virgin at Mursley

Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Mursley has an interesting church – St Mary the Virgin – which is well worth a visit.

Inside there is the colourful Millennium Window which gives an insight into the history of the village. Highlights to look for in the window include the date 1242, this was the date that Henry III granted a charter for a local market; Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), founder and conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who lived in the village; the water tower a local landmark; and Sir John and Lady Fortescue who owned the manor at nearby Salden; Sir John, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1589 till 1603.

One of the memorials to Sir John Fortescue inside the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Mursley
One of the memorials to Sir John Fortescue inside the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Mursley

After passing the Green Man pub, church and War Memorial the walk head south through open fields before following part of the 24-mile long Cross Bucks Way back to the start; published in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life, September 2017.

Looking north at the footbridge on the way between Mursley
Looking north at the footbridge on the way between Mursley