Memories of Bradenham

I was born, as was my mother before me, at the Bradenham Bradenham Red Lion. My grandmother died when my mother was eighteen years old so she and my grandfather ran the pub until he died and then my father took it over.
Bradenham is now a National Trust Village but before that it was preserved as an old Manor holding by the Graves family.
The Graves family were very domineering folk. The Reverend Graves was strict with the villagers about attending church on Sundays and woe betide any parishioner who failed to turn up for service. When he died, his son had the living; at his death his widow had a life interest. Her maiden name was Tempest and she reverted to that as widow after the death of her two brothers in the 1914-18 War, which made her the last of her line. Mrs Tempest vigorously opposed any change in the village and it is consequently much the same as in its feudal days. Only recently has one house been erected—the first in over a hundred years. She lost the battle with the Air Ministry, however, and land on the outskirts of the village was compul-sorily purchased in May 1940, to build what was then Bomber Command Headquarters. She did force through certain provisions, principally that no buildings or overhead wires were to intrude on the line of the Queen's Ride which was a path cut through the woods and countryside for the use of Queen Elizabeth I when she came to visit the Manor.

Another old house on the Common is Admiral Silver's House. After the death of Miss Silver, the last of that line, the Hudson family from West Wycombe rented the property from The National Trust and made it into the very beautiful house it is today. They were carvers by profession and in addition to carvings in the house made the lovely interior door of St. Botolph's church. The church is separated only by a wall from the old Elizabethan Manor House.

When I was young Mr Ball, the blacksmith, was also the verger of the church.
Bradenham held the prettiest Garland Day for miles around on May Day. The garland of fresh flowers was always made by Mrs Brown, the wife of the Keeper of the Woods, who only earned £1 a week to keep a wife and family of seven children. On Garland Day, all the children wore their most colourful clothes and after the May Revels went out singing, first to the Manor House and then to the workhouse at Saunderton. We also danced around a Maypole at the fete held in the Manor grounds every summer.

Dora Smith, Sands

Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes

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