Directories and descriptions

National Archives, WO 30/50 (c.1686) For military billeting purposes, Winslow was assessed as having:
26 spare beds, 45 standings for horses
Compare Buckingham (65, 166), Stony Stratford (70, 125), Aylesbury (114, 214).
Anonymous manuscript description of Winslow, c.December 1702 (Centre for Bucks Studies, D192/25/32) Winslow is a town ab(ou)t 40 miles north west of London, & ab(ou)t 6 miles direct north of Aylesbury & in the County of Bucks, the town stands on a rising ground, & is a small town the cheif officer there is a constable, it is a post town, & hath a market every Thursday for provisions & some corn, as also for cattle & sheep; the buildings of it are timber & but indifferent, but the best houses are ab(ou)t the market place, where also are 2 or 3 tolerable inns; herein also is one Church:
In this town towards the South end of it, in the year 1702 Wm Lowndes Esq Secretary of the Treasury (& whose father formerly kept an Inn in this town) was building a good house, which was near finished then; it was a handsome brick building of ab(ou)t 6 rooms on a floor, & outhouses convenient, standing on a rising ground, in w(hi)ch he had laid out ab(ou)t 5 or 6000£ but the house standing too near the road, hath the dust of it in summer & the dirt of it in winter w(hi)ch then is very miry.
Thomas Hearne, Collections 5.347 (a visit in 1716) Hearne walked from Oxford to Whaddon in a day to visit Browne Willis:
After I had left Wotton [Underwood] I went on towards Winslow, and observed many fine woods by the way. I did not keep the direct road, but went some miles about on the left hand. Winslow is a pretty good market town and is tolerably well situated. I did not stop to see anything, but went on to Whaddon, passing through part of the Chace.
A New Description of England and Wales (London, 1724), p.104 South-East from Buckingham is Winslow, seated in a good Soil, where there is Plenty of Wood, and it has a Market on Thursdays, well furnished with Corn and Provisions: King Offa gave it to the Monastery of Saint Alban, in a Council held at Verulam ann. 794.
Rev. John Rawbone's reply to a printed list of questions sent by the Bishop of London, 1766 (Lambeth Palace Archives, FP Terrick 14 f.1433) Winslow is extended to about one fifth of a Mile in length. It hath a small Hamlet adjoining & comprehends one hundred & four Houses including the Hamlet. There is no other Family of Note here but that of Lowndes ...
   Service is performed at Winslow twice on the Lord's Day. The Sacrament of the Lord's Super is administred nine Times in the year to about fifty Communicants on Easter Day, Whitsun & Christmas Day, but not to above fourteen or fifteen, generally, at other times. I catachize [sic] the Children twice a week in Lent.
   We have a Free School of about twenty pounds a year founded by Joseph Rogers \formerly of this parish currier/ the Revenues whereof are properly preservd & employd, & the Statutes observd.
   There are certain Lands lying withi this Parish of the Yearly value of four pounds ten shillings given for the Use of the Poor, which is properly applied. There is also another Benefaction to Widows, & another to Maids advanced in Years.
   There are no Papists in this Parish to my Knowledge or Belief ... There are no Dissenters of any Denomination in this Parish beside a few Anabaptists whose Number does not at this Time amount to more than four or five including their Preacher. They have a Meeting House duly licens'd. We have no Methodists or Moravians among us.
Society of Gentlemen, England Displayed (London, 1769), p.280 We now directed our way towards the southern parts of the county, and came to Winslow, a small town surrounded by woods, forty-five miles from London; but neither the buildings nor manufacture have anything deserving particular notice. Here is a weekly market on Thursday, and two annual fairs, viz. Holy Thursday, and the twenty-first of August, both for cattle.
Johann Jakob Volkmann, Neueste Reisen durch England (Leipzig, 1782), vol.3, p.6. Extract from Volkmann in Gothic type
"We go now through the insignificant place Winslow to the main town, Buckingham…"
The Topographer for the year 1789 (London), vol.1, pp.452-3 Winslow, in Bucks ... is a Vicarage in the Deanery of Mursley, and hundred of C<ottesl>ow. The church has a tower, and spire, and ailes, and chancel. The living is rated in the king's books, at £11 5s 8d.
In the chancel, under a flat stone. "Here lieth the body of Edward Baswell, Gentleman, who died August 30, 1689." N.B. The Sexton of the parish, told us that it is a tradition in the parish that he was king of the beggars.
[Details are also given of monuments for Thomas Fage (1578), Robert Lowndes (1683), Sarah widow of Thomas Egerton, nee Fage (1722)]
Frederic Morton Eden, The State of the Poor vol.2 (1797), pp.29-30 THIS parish contains about 1400 acres, and 1100 inhabitants: 101 houses pay the window-tax, and, (it is supposed,) about 110 are exempted. The occupations are shop-keêping, inn-keeping, farming, lace-making, and day-labour. Labourers earn from 6 s. to 7 s. a week, be-sides breakfast; in hay time, 7s. a week, and board; and during the corn harvest, 2 guineas a month and board. Lace-makers earn, from 8d. to 9d. a day, on an average. There seems to be here a great want of employment: most labourers are, (as it is termed,) on the Rounds; that is, they go to work from one house to another round the parish. In winter, sometimes, 40 persons are on the rounds. They are wholly paid by the parish, unless the householders choose to employ them; and, from these circumstances, labourers often become very lazy, and imperious. Children, about ten years old, are put on the rounds; and receive from the parish, from 1s. 6d. to 3s. a week.
Thc prices of provisions are: beef, 4d. to 5d. the pound; mutton, 5½d.; veal, 5½d.; bacon, 9½d.; butter, 11d; potatoes, 8d. the peck; pit coal, 2s. 3d. the bushel; sea-coal, 2s. the bushel; a loaf of wheaten bread, weighing 8 lb. 1s. 6d.; this is the usual price;. however, it was lately as high as 2s. 3d: very little milk is sold here.
John Britton et al., The Beauties of England and Wales vol.1 (London, 1801), p.339

WINSLOW is a small market town, situated on the brow of a hill; and though of very remote origin, it having been given by King Offa to the Abbey of St. Alban’s, in a council held at Verulam in the year 794, it possesses no objects that can interest the antiquary.  The church is a large pile of building, consisting of a nave, two aisles, and a chancel, with a square tower, embattled at the west end.  The houses are mostly of brick, and are principally inhabited by laborers and lace-makers.

Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Buckingham (1810), pp.61-62 WINSLOW is a small market town, in the hundred of Cotslow, and deanery of Muresley [sic], situated on the brow of a hill. It is a place of considerable antiquity, without possessing any particular object to arrest the attention of the antiquary. The Market, which is held on Thursdays, was granted in 1235, to the abbot and convent of St. Alban's, to whom the manor had been given, by King Offa. There are also five annual fairs, on the days mentioned in our list.* The parish Church is a spacious Gothic structure, consisting of a nave, two aisles, and a chancel, with a square tower, embattled at the west end.  It contains no monuments worth of notice. According to the returns under the population act in 1801, this parish then contained 220 houses, and 1101 inhabitants, who are chiefly employed in agriculture and lace-making.
*March 20, Holy Thursday, August 21, September 22; cattle. First and Second Thursdays after Old St. Michael, October 10; hiring servants.
Rev. St.John Priest, A General View of Agriculture in Buckinghamshire (London, 1813), pp.56-7

At Winslow are all dairy-farms, with but little arable land.  ----- Selby, Esq., has nine farms there, lett to different tenants:
One of 270 acres, of which 18 are arable.
The second of 220 acres, of which 35 are arable.
The third of 140 acres, all pasture.
The fourth of 160 acres, of which 40 are arable.
The fifth of 100 acres, of which 30 are arable.
The sixth of 123 acres, all pasture.
The seventh of 61 acres, all pasture.
The eighth of 60 acres, all pasture.
And the ninth of 58 acres, of which 11 are arable.
There is another farm of about 40 or 50 acres, all pasture, and several small ones from five to 20 acres.  The Vicar’s allotment consists of nearly 132 acres of arable land.
No hay is allowed to be sold: not more than 60 cows are kept upon any of these farms, and in general, of sheep and cows, one of each to three acres.

Rev. St.John Priest, A General View of Agriculture in Buckinghamshire (1810), quoted by Arthur Clear: A Thousand Years of Winslow Life (1888), p.18

The bye roads of this County are extremely bad, some of them dangerous and cautiously to be used; they have ruts so deep, that when the wheels of the chaise fall into them, it is with the greatest danger an attempt can be made to draw them out, nay instances may be produced, where, if such an attempt is made, the horse and chaise must inevitably fall into bogs. The difficulty in finding the way from Fenny Stratford to Whaddon was such, that without a guide I could not have surmounted it. From Winslow to Wing there was no less danger, and had it not been now and then for a colony of gipsies, I might have been obliged in more than one instance to have taken refuge in a milking house for a nights lodging." From the same work we gather that the extent of Winslow with Shipton at that date was estimated at 719 acres of meadow land, 1,459 of pasture, 300 areable, total 2,478 acres, that there was 12 farm houses and 250 cottages, the farms varying in size from 20 to 600 acres. The Poor rates at Winslow at this period were seven shillings in the £, having vastly increased of late years.

G. Lipscomb, History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham, vol.3 (1847), p.542 THE TOWN OF WINSLOW stands on an eminence, part of a ridge of hills sufficiently high to render the buildings conspicuous at a great distance towards the S.E. and S.W.… The direct turnpike-road from London to Buckingham, passes through Winslow, which is situated between the 50th and 51st mile-stone. Near the S.E. angle of the parish is a small bridge over the stream before-mentioned, at which the road makes an acute flexure before it ascends the hill; on which stands the hamlet of Shipton, an appendage to Winslow, very pleasantly situated, and through which the road passes in its approach to the town,
WINSLOW, though situated in the very heart of the County, with excellent roads, and in every respect well adapted for those improvements which would incalculably increase the value of property in its vicinity, and, in an agricultural County like Buckinghamshire, be productive of general benefit, as a Market Town, at present derives little advantage from those circumstances which are evidently well calculated to promote the resort of dealers and agriculturists. Its weekly market on Thursday, and its numerous fairs annually, are so much neglected, as scarcely to be noticed: the increasing influence of the town of Aylesbury having greatly contributed to reduce Winslow to the condition of a mere village.
The Market-place, a clean, neat, but irregularly-built square, in the middle of the town, is disgraced by an old timber and plaster Market-house; and near its south-east corner, stands the only house of public entertainment and accommodation, which, under the sign of the Bell, now claims the title of an inn.
A long bending, irregularly built street, called Horn-street, (probably from its shape) passing from this spot, forms the communication between Winslow, the Claydons, Granborough, and the north western parts of the County and near its commencement is the principal carriage approach to the Church.
Oxfordshire Telegraph, 10 April 1878 Even in Winslow, the exterior aspect of which (save its dilapidated church and churchyard) is generally pleasing, rumour roundly declares there exist some plague spots of a most vile and abominable type.  It is said, that within a short radius of its very centre, two or three dens (the name of houses is preposterous) containing only one room below and one above of about 10 feet each, and having only one door to each tenement for egress and exit, and totally without offices of any kind, are absolutely let out for residences, and weekly rents are collected for the same.  Till very recently one was inhabited by four persons of both sexes (not legally related); but decency here has now interposed.  The other is in the occupation of a slaughter-man, whose business is carried on in the Dining-room; whilst, not infrequently, a reeking barrow at the door diffuses its effluvia to the neighbourhood.
                        “Can such things be
                        And overcome us like a summer cloud,
                        Without our special wonder?”
It is quite evident the respectable portion of the community adjoining run great risk of being poisoned.  The heats of the coming summer will, no doubt, take a vivid interest in the matter, and probably that portion of the town will, for a time, be rendered impassable.  If these things are true - and assertion broadly says they are - surely the parish authorities should bestir themselves at once.  Such buildings, if allowed to exist at all, should be used as storehouses for dry goods, or workshops only.  Procrastination may be highly dangerous.  Consequences may arise, which, while ruinously fatal to individuals and families, may also betray errors of a most sinister and derogatory character; pregnant in their results with events they cannot, by the most poignant repentance, be ever eradicated or forgiven.  R.
Hillier's Buckingham, Winslow & District Almanack, 1939

Posting times from Winslow (click on the image for a full-size version):

List of posting times

Arthur Clear: A Thousand Years of Winslow Life (1888), pp.19-20

Having brought our narrative down to a comparatively recent period, it would not be amiss to pause awhile, and take a survey of the town as it appeared some sixty years since. Commencing with Shipton, there were then at least half a dozen more cottages standing along the brow of the hill, and the Turnpike road ran immediately in front of the Farm house now occupied by Mr. Monk, and a short distance along the Swanbourne Road on the right hand side stood an old fashioned farm house & buildings, that appear to have been used as a Pest house, or Small Pox Hospital. Coming down Sheep Street, in the lane dignified by the name of "Hobhouchin," stood two or three more cottages than at present, in one of which was an old Dame School kept by one Sally Warner, where some of our old Winslow boys received their eddication. In the field immediately opposite The Hall Gates stood a very ancient Blacksmiths Shop and dwelling house, this is said to have been occupied by the family of Jackman for nearly 300 years. In this street were held the large Sheep Fairs from time immemorial, hence probably its name. Between the Hall and the house now occupied by Mr. King was a roadway leading round to the tanyards, and so out into the Buckingham Road. In the Market Square was the Bull Ring, the Stocks and Whipping Post, and a ugly old timber and plaster Market-house standing on pillars, and much frequented by tinkers and gentry of that stamp. Around the Square many of the houses still retained their original overhanging fronts, being supported by massive oak pillars, of which a solitary specimen yet remains in the passage on the right hand side of the Bank. Of the houses apparently but little altered or modernised may be mentioned the Old Crown Inn, and the house now occupied by Mr. Grace, Blacksmith, both in the Market Square, and the old Windmill Inn in the High Street. Immediately at the back of the Bell Hotel, is an old block of buildings, now used as a Malt-house, Stables etc. These then formed the Parish Workhouse, Straw Plaiting School for boys, and a Mill-house in which the unemployed were set to work, grinding corn by hand. In the Alley stood an ancient Inn called the "George" kept by John King, the present "George" being then known as the "George & Horse Shoe." Turning round into Great Horn Street, at the corner on which the Engine house now stands, was a large pond in which the coach-horses were washed, this was called "Pillars Ditch," and gave its name to the locality, including the spot on which the old Baptist Chapel is situate near here was the little School kept by Thomas Rawbone, at which a certain number of children were taught free in accordance with the Will of Joseph Rogers. At the bottom of the "Walk" then called "Hanging Stile" stood two or three cottages known as the "Pest Houses," in the open space at the top of Horn Street immediately in front of the Grocers Shop then kept by Robert Ivatts, was the "Round House" or Lock up. In this Street many houses have been pulled down oflate years, but those now standing near the Crooked Billet, bearing the initials T.W.M., 1702, and another near the Girls School dated 1726, G, B., appear unaltered. The Parish-houses at the entrance of Churchyard, (the present Post Office) bear date 1701, but the back part of the house is evidently much older than that.

From the Market-place up to the Windmill Inn, the street bore the name of  "Cow Street," here was held, as now the Cattle Market, beyond this the town proper did not extend. The houses now occupied by Mr. Coxill and Mr. Sear, sen., were the last on that side of the way, on the right adjoining the present house of Mr. Benbow, stood the old Parish Poorhouse, and dotted here and there were a few old thatched cottages, belonging to the parish, the last one standing somewhere on the site of the present Grocery Stores, beyond this were nothing but fields, the present Workhouse not being erected until 1836.

As a means of communication with the outer world, the coaches kept the town pretty lively, "The Regulator" started from the "Bell" Inn, for London, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, returning on alternate days. Two other coaches called the "Old Union," running between Banbury and London, also passed through the town daily. There were also three or four big lumbering Stage Waggons, drawn by four horses, one of which made its head quarters in the large building in "Parsons Close."

See also: Arthur Clear: A Thousand Years of Winslow Life (1888)

Bucks Herald, 31 Oct 1903

                It is always interesting to note the old names and designations connected with the place where one resides, and particularly as when one has spent the major part of his days in it - to note the way in which some of the old names have been handed down from generation to generation, with only slight changes in their spelling or pronunciation, often however with their original meanings quite forgotten or obscured by the mists of long ago.

                Take for instance, the ancient name of our town “Wineslai”, or as it was probably pronounced “Wineslaw”. No one knows really the meaning of the word. Saxon it undoubtedly was, and very early Saxon, too, very likely denoting a clearing in the forest which then covered the district; or it might have been where  the Court was held for settling forest matters (see the old Saxon word “lawing” for instance). “Wini” most likely was the name of the Saxon Thane or officer who was in authority over the district or township. On the other hand the word “law” is said to have sometimes meant a small hill, and in this case might have referred to Shipton, although this is not very probable. At any rate in King Offa’s time the place was known as “Weneslow”, which is much nearer the present Winslow, than some of the other names in the locality are to their ancient designations.

                The ancient name of Shipton was “Sipstone” which no doubt meant the same thing, a place for sheep.

Coming down to Norman times, in the reign of Edward III, there appears to be old and new Wyneslowe, the latter probably comprising the present church and a few houses around it. Shipton is mentioned with “Shiptondene”, the latter now being  known as Dene Hill, “Hoggestonforde” was most likely the spot where the present Shipton Bridge stands. “Waterforough” probably was situate towards Granborough Brook, and may have been identical with the present Hollowfurrough. “Churchehigh” may have been a piece of ground belonging to the church, or it might have meant Church Hill, in which case it no doubt referred to the site of an earlier church than the present. “Clayforde”  may have been the ford where the bathing place now is; “Blackgrove” may have been on the Swanborne Road; and Le Knoll was probably the spot known as Mill Knob.

Then in the time of Henry VIII we find the local colouring becoming clearer. For instance, we read of a barn situate in the Market place and of there being a pillory there, and a pillory ditch (although what the connection is between the two is hard to see); also Shipton Field, Shipton Crosse, and Shiptonbridge are mentioned on that side of the town; and on the Claydon side “Tokay Hill”, Claydenbrigge, and Orwel hill (Horrel Hill) elsewhere called Hordwell Hill. We also begin to hear of streets – there is Market Streete and High Streete, as well as the Meate Market and the Bull Ring; there is Churche Ende and the house called Mote Hall situate near the Market Place, and the Parsonage close is also referred to.

Some of these old names still survive, but many more no doubt have been forgotten.  Which was High Street in those days it is impossible to say, the present High-Street being then called Cow-Street, and only extending from the Market-square to the Windmill Inn. Sheep Street like Cow Street, speaks of the old markets and fairs as does Swine Hill, now forgotten. Great Horn Street had also probably something to do with the cattle, but where there was a “little” Horn Street nobody knows. Windmill Street is now called Vicarage Lane; it formerly had several farmhouse standing on it, and led down to one or more of the windmills which existed, and by one of which there was a road (still to be traced) to Great Horwood. By the way there was about twenty years ago, an ancient sign of a windmill over the door of the inn of that name- unfortunately some tramping painter prevailed on the landlord to let him repaint this sign, and consequently the picture, probably as old as the house, has been replaced by a wretched daub. The pillory ditch ran from a pond at the corner of the Market-place, where the coach horses need to have their feet washed, and where the engine house now stands. An old dame school stood close to the ditch, and the Workhouse was situate in Bell-Alley, almost close to, with a mill for “the unemployed” of those days (an aged resident remembers working at this mill some 75 years ago, when he was quite a youth). The old George inn then stood in the alley; the pest house was at the bottom of the Walk, and the poorhouse stood in what is now High-Street, close to Mr Benbow’s.

The road now running at the back of Mr Willis’s house was then called the Greyhound-road from an old public house standing therein; and it then led to Shipton-street, forming a short cut which would be most useful in these days of streets blocked by sewage works. The Old Crown on the Market-square, where the plays used to be performed, has only recently be turned into a private house, the Ship and the Three Pidgeons have disappeared, and so has a public house which once existed at Shipton, together with several farmhouses - otherwise Shipton remains much as it was.

A few other landmarks still remain. The hall still raises its stately pile, with its chimneys still conspicuous from a distance, and the massive old tower of the church still stands “four square to the winds of heaven”. The Church House in the Market-square is still standing with its date of a couple of centuries back, although not just now habitable, while the older one at the rear of the Windmill Inn is apparently as sound as ever. The old houses in Horn-street, although considerable metamorphosed, still show their dated gable of 1702. The old chapel remains much as it was, and with Giles’ porch almost intact. One overhanging house still exists on Market-square to give us some idea of what it was like in the days of the old timber and plaster Market House and the remains of another are to be seen in the side of the Bell facing the alley.
Taking the town altogether, the old order has given place to the new much more than in some neighbouring towns. Let us hope however, that as a representative of one of the oldest families in it used to say “Winslow shall be Winslow still"; and although windmill, water mill, and tannery have disappeared, and strawplaiting and lace-making are things of the past, yet , if anything brighter and more prosperous days are in store for the ancient town.

Copyright 5 March, 2024