Estates grew from humble beginnings
Former secretary of the Beaconsfield and District Historical Society, the late John Stanbury, writes about a time when Beaconsfield produced its own coinage and other key facts from its history
NTHE early 1600’s, rapidly increasing commerce caused a chronic shortage of small change. Due to the Civil War the small change coins were never issued and so traders produced their own token farthings and halfpennies.
These were a local coinage, payable throughout the local neighbourhood. In Beaconsfield, three were farthings and three were halfpennies.
As prosperity grew several estates were established and the leading three are Hall Barn, Wilton Park and Gregories later to become Butler’s Court.
Anne Waller purchased Hall Barn which was described as the Manor of Beaconsfield in 1624. Her son, Edmund, found fame as a poet. His father died when he was born bequeathing him £3,500 a year.
In 1631, he eloped with Anne Banks and they had a son and a daughter. Anne died in 1634.
He soon overcame the loss and his affections turned towards the widowed Countess of Carlisle. Having no success there he transferred his attentions to Lady Dorothy Sidney who became the subject of one of his best known poems, Sacharissa, meaning honey.
His ardour was not reciprocated and soon he was calling her haughty and hard as stone!
He then proceeded to woo Amoret then moved on to Phyllis, Isabella, Sylvia, Flavia, Chloris, Celia, Myra and Zelinda, all without success. Perhaps he was more in love with his poems than with the damsels for whom they were intended.
The Civil War now loomed and he allowed himself to be identified with Parliamentary cause, while secretly financing the king.
He was arrested in 1643 and tried for his life, his eloquence avoided the death penalty and he escaped with a year in the Tower and a £10,000 fine and was forced into exile.
He returned in 1651 and farmed his estates and died in 1687. His tomb is in St Mary’s and All Saints Church. A donation was made by the Society for its recent refurbishment.
Anne Waller also bought Wilton Park in 1624, subsequently it was purchased by Josias Du Pre formerly Governor of Madras.
He built a grand house and his son, James, changed the route from Seer Green to London End which passed in front of the house by constructing Potkiln Lane a completely new road.
Wilton Park was leased to the War Office in 1942 and a special prisoner of war camp was established for senior German officers.
Gregories was another estate purchased by Anne Waller in 1624. The house first mentioned in 1604, a new house was subsequently built to the south east to the north of Walkwood, it was likened to a miniature version of Queen Charlotte’s Palace in St James’ Park.
In 1768, it was purchased by the MP, Edmund Burke for £20,000. He settled with his wife, Jane and remained there for the rest of his life. He died in 1797 and is buried at St Mary’s and All Saints Church at Beaconsfield.
The house burnt down in 1813. It was not until 1891, that Butler’s Court was built on the same estate.
In 1906, the railway reached Beaconsfield and caused the growth of property in the New Town. With the change in transport method the Old Town declined in commercial activity but the town as a whole grew in prosperity.
The market which was established by Charter in 1255, continues to this day but only on Tuesdays.
In 2002, a Farmers Market was established and is held on the fourth Saturday of the month. A further charter was granted in 1269 to hold a fair at Ascensiontide for eight days, subsequently reduced to just May 10.
John Stanbury, pictured right, with Tony Chambers at The Beaconsfield and District Historical Society stall at Beaconsfield Now! in 2013 and below, Wilton Park, purchased with new found wealth in 1624