Maids Moreton

In the beginning of the reign of King Edward I, the family of Peyvre or Peover, of Toddington (Beds), held a considerable estate in the area and two pious maidens of this family are traditionally stated to have founded the church, thus giving the village its name. Foxcote, the adjoining village had a minute church, now converted to a private dwelling, and is well known because the late Dorian Williams owned the manor house.
Mummers used to come round the village on Boxing Day. The players dressed as clowns and wore odd garments. They carried a black iron frying pan, a club etc. and sang:

'Here come I old Bel Ze Bub,
In my hand I carry a club,
Over my shoulder a dripping pan,
Don't you think I'm a jolly old man?'

This was in 1926 when they were given a few coppers to buy beer. May Day was taken very seriously. Days before, mothers planned what sort of garland they would make for their daughters. Baby chairs, hoops, and crosses were prepared by binding mosses onto a base with twine and kept moistened with water. The evening before, they were decorated with the season's flowers - crown imperials (crown of pearls) were much sought after and were the high point of these artistic creations. Almost every child in the village went May garlanding.

Up to the beginning of the Second World War a baker in Main Street fired his oven (with faggots of wood) every Sunday morning. People brought their family joint of meat which was put on a rack over a roasting tin into which had been poured the batter for the Yorkshire pudding. Sometimes a fruit pie would also be taken later in the morning usually by the husband who would collect the whole meal on his way back from the pub later and taken home where the cooked vegetables were waiting.

There have been several 'characters' in Maids Moreton. One was Madam Morney, a member by marriage of the French perfumers. She bought the Old Manor House opposite the Buckingham Arms in the 1930s. She gave a lot of work to builders in Buckingham and men who were unemployed in the village. She had a herd of Jersey cows and sold the cream at 6d for about ozs. A Q.C. Stewart Bevan lived with her causing great speculation amongst villagers — she being French!
Another character was Dick Jones, alias Captain Starlight who on returning from the First World War, had to leave his mother's terraced cottage in Batchelors Row when she died. He dug a pit in a field near Chackmore Farm, thatched it with straw, dug steps in the earth at the entrance, and lived there on bags of straw until his death. As his nickname suggests he was very knowledgeable about the stars.

In the 1930s there was much poverty, although folk were too proud to let it be known. When the blackberries and mushrooms were ready, the women rose early, got the children off to school, quickly did their housework and went off to gather blackberries and fungi. 'Blackberry Jack' always appeared with the same intentions and was very abusive if the women went near where he was gathering. Mr Busby, a greengrocer, came by trap from Buckingham each day and bought the berries (to make dye or jam) and the mushrooms for a few coppers per pound.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission

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