Quainton

Situated on the southern flank of hills, the centre of the village is the green with its stone cross which is thought was a preaching cross erected in Saxon times before the church was built. A prominent feature is the windmill designed and built by a local man, James Anstiss, in 1830—2. It was built without scaffolding from the inside, floor by floor, with clay bricks baked nearby, and the sails were driven by an engine. It has been unused since 1881, but is now gradually being restored.
The local historian, George Lipscomb, was born in Quainton in 1773 and lived at Magpie Cottage on the west side of the green. After studying medicine in London, he moved back to the village and began his History of Antiquities of the County of Buckingham. At first he had a long list of subscribers backing him but gradually the cost of collating the material and travelling round the county used up his money. After the publication of the first volume, he continued writing in poverty and sadly his life ended in 1846 in the debtors' prison.

On Christmas Eve 1752 the villagers gathered on the lawn to witness the budding of the hawthorn which was said to have grown from a shoot off the famous Glastonbury thorn. This holy thorn was reputed to bud each year on Christmas Eve and to bloom on Christmas Day. Earlier in that year Parliament adopted the Gregorian reform of the Julian calendar and the villagers sought proof that Parliament had no power to remove 11 days. The thorn showed no sign of budding, proving the next day was not Christmas Day. So they shunned the festivities and church events were held on the old Christmas Day, January 5th.

Today there is a choice of 4 pubs in the village in which to discuss the day's events. Before the Second World War there were seven pubs and the population was a lot less then! In those days too there were five grocers shops, a drapers and three bakers. On Sundays villagers would take their joints to the bakers in a baking tin with the Yorkshire pudding in a jug to be poured round the meat, and a tin of dripping for the roast potatoes. On Saturdays their cakes would be baked for them and they could buy raw dough, take it home and work fruit, sugar and an egg into it to make dough cake.

One of the greatest attractions for enthusiasts is the Bucks Steam Railway Centre, situated at Quainton Station. They now have a large collection of restored engines and carriages and at weekends short rides can be undertaken in these, complete with hooting engines and the reminiscent smell of wafting steam.
In earlier times, horse racing in the meadows adjacent to The Strand (so named because the bustle of people was likened to the London Strand) was a local feature and a report of the races in August 1706 describes the large crowds arriving in every sort of conveyance. The green was covered with booths and there was a man in the stocks, covered with slime after a ducking in the nearby pond, having tried to cheat a farmworker of his change. Many of England's nobility were amongst the thousands gathered and Petty Constables were on the look-out for known pickpockets and troublemakers. It was hoped that Queen Anne would visit the races one day as she was rumoured to be interested in establishing a course at 'a place called Ascot'. The Winchendon Mile was the first race and the prize was a plate worth 50 guineas.

Today most of the villagers work either in Aylesbury or in and around the village, with a few commuting to London.

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