G.M. Woodward, Eccentric Excursions (1796), pp.90-93

George Woodward was a caricaturist and humorous writer. The sub-title of his book is "Literary & Pictorial Sketches of Countenance, Character & Country, in Different Parts of England & South Wales". He refers to various unsuccessful attempts to find coal in Bucks, then:

A person sleeping a night at the Bell, at Winslow, must expect to be roused in the morning by a serenade proceeding from three or four large pigs, devoted to the knife of the butcher, which with the surrounding fires, for the purpose of singeing, will inevitably bring to his recollection the idea of Robinson Crusoe, peeping from his cabin on a tribe of Indians, preparing for sacrifice.

No people pay greater deference to the will of the squire in any part of his Majesty's dominions.  The hat that appears rooted to the head during the whole of the day immediately becomes flexible on his approach, and a low bow, almost to the derangement of the spinal bone, takes place on the occasion. They ask permission at what they call the great house, for the most trifling recreation, an instance of which took place on the arrival of a party of players. It seemed the general wish of the town to have them perform, but what was to be done ? The squire was from home, and it was impossible any thing could be decided till his return. Fortunately he was absent but a few days, and on his arrival was presented with a petition in due form signed by the players, and some of the principal inhabitants. At length after much consideration, and many weighty reasons  respecting taking money out of the town, and other evil tendtencies, a few nights for rational amusement was granted.

This excess of ridiculous subserviency would admit of no excuse for its folly, only that the present possessor of the Grande Maison, and adjacent estates, is a truly respectable character, a worthy man, and what will be admired by many, an excellent sportman. But let the person be possessed of good or bad qualities, it seems a rule in this place to pay adulation to the higher powers  “LET WHA WILL BE MEENESTER." (Macklin's Man of the World.)

The general appearance of the town, from the party-coloured beams, long casements, multiplicity of windows, and balconies, somewhat resembles Pekin in China as printed on ancient bed-curtains. As to the produce of the place, the town and country about is famous for good pork and butter, stale ale and intolerable fat bacon.—The inscriptions in the church-yard afford an excellent specimen of their resolution to continue the same set of names from generation to generation. This forms the best part of their characters, as they are much attached to each other, and think nothing on the globe can equal their own precincts, on which account they herd together like a well stocked warren of rabbits!—Their morning amusement after the exercise of pig-killing is over, is generally a saunter on the market-place, to enquire about the chit-chat of the town, to stare at a new chimney, or any other momentous object, that may happen to present itself; the afternoon is spent in waiting anxiously for the arrival of the Banbury coach from London, in order to look at the passengers when they alight at the Three Pigeons; and the evening concludes with a game at bowls, or cards.—Having given the general outlines, I wish for the honor of humanity I could dismiss my observations on this town without relating the following inhuman practices; but justice and philanthropy would suffer by the omission.

At the same place where the improving school of the Drama was barely permitted for a few evenings, the barbarous and unmanly practices of bull-baiting and throwing at cocks, are suffered with impunity; for the purpose of the former a square stone with an iron ring is fixed on the market-place, and on a Shrove Tuesday I have seen a poor defenceless bird thrown at by a set of barbarians, (for they deserve no better title) after they had broken its legs, and replaced the mangled animal, as a fresh stimulus to their diabolical amusement.

He continues with an attack on bull-baiting and cock-fighting, then laments the state of the roads at Granborough, North Marston and Quainton. The "squire" mentioned was William Selby (or Selby Lowndes).

Copyright 14 March, 2014