TER­RI­BLE TALES AND SPOOKY STO­RIES

With Hal­loween upon us, Camilla Good­man takes a look at some of Bucks’ very own hor­rors and strange tales

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­die Brazil’s book is pub­lished by The His­tory Press and priced at £9.99. It will be on sale in book­shops and on Ama­zon from Tues­day.

I

TMAY come as a sur­prise to some peo­ple to dis­cover that this beau­ti­ful and stately home-filled county has a bru­tal and bloody past. From pesti­lence and plague to catas­tro­phes and crim­i­nals there is no doubt that Buck­ing­hamshire has a his­tory wor­thy of a great hor­ror film.

Anew book by Ed­die Brazil cov­ers more than 1,500 years of the most grue­some events in Buck­ing­hamshire’s his­tory, in­clud­ing the cult of Wa­ter Strat­ford, the Civil War, the Black Death and the Buck­ing­hamshire man who was ex­e­cuted for trea­son for his part in the Gun­pow­der Plot.

Bloody Bri­tish His­tory: Buck­ing­hamshire fea­tures sto­ries about stately homes, cas­tles and other his­tor­i­cal places, in­clud­ing Bletch­ley House, The Hell­fire Caves and Ayles­bury Jail.

Mr Brazil, who has lived in Bucks since 1986, spe­cialises in the darker side of his­tory and his main ex­per­tise is in the su­per­nat­u­ral lore of Bri­tain, on which he has writ­ten ex­ten­sively.

“It was very in­ter­est­ing do­ing the re­search and find­ing out more about the dark side of the county,” Mr Brazil ex­plained. “I did find out quite a dark side of leafy Bucks – I was quite sur­prised my­self. Hope­fully ev­ery­one will see Bucks in a dif­fer­ent light after read­ing the book.”

In the 16th cen­tury a num­ber of peo­ple were burned at the stake in Amer­sham for be­ing martyrs. Mr Brazil was shocked to dis­cover that some­times chil­dren were forced to light the fires that would kill their par­ents.

“That was re­ally dread­ful,” he said. “That’s a re­ally ex­treme part of bloody Bucks.”

How­ever, he also came across some quite far­ci­cal things, such as when Quaker John Mil­ton came to the Chalfonts from London to es­cape the plague. His friends in Amer­sham were due to meet him but on that day, a fu­neral for another Quaker was tak­ing place. big fight broke out, dur­ing which the cof­fin fell and no one would go near it, and some of Mr Mil­ton’s friends were ar­rested.

Mr Brazil said: “When his friends fi­nally ar­rived, I can imag­ine him say­ing ‘where have you been?’”

The Black Death and cholera took its toll on Bucks and Mr Brazil came across the very sur­pris­ing case of a cou­ple from Mar­low.

Ahusband had kissed his wife goodbye be­fore go­ing to work. When he re­turned, he was told she had died from cholera and had been buried. He rushed to the grave­yard and dug her up to say goodbye and to his sur­prise she was alive, and a few hours later gave birth to their child.

Mr Brazil, who lives in Wy­combe Marsh, said: “That’s un­be­liev­able, but that was the thing with cholera – you could feel okay in the morn­ing, un­well at lunch and be in a cof­fin by the evening. They used to bury peo­ple quickly to stop it spread­ing, and they were not very sci­en­tific at declar­ing peo­ple dead then, so there must’ve been many other peo­ple in Bucks who heard the earth be­ing filled in and were lit­er­ally buried alive.

“What a way to go.”

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Sir Ever­ard Digby of Gay­hurst, one of the last con­spir­a­tors to be part of the Gun­pow­der Plot, ‘man­aged’ op­er­a­tions in the Mid­lands. He was hanged, drawn and quar­tered

Ed­die Brazil at Holy Trin­ity Church, in Penn; left, the cover of his book

Bletch­ley Park is the lo­ca­tion for one of Mr Brazil’s quirky tales

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