Bal­leri­nas and bon­fires at his­toric hall

It’s cur­tain up on the long and colour­ful his­tory of Hall Barn. Don­ald Stan­ley un­cov­ers the man­sion’s di­verse as­so­ci­a­tions

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -

FOL­LOW­ING his re­turn from ex­ile in 1652 the poet Ed­mund Waller built the present man­sion and laid out its grounds. It en­joyed the sta­tus of a manor and re­mained in the pos­ses­sion of the Waller fam­ily un­til the 1830s.

In 1882 the es­tate passed to Ed­ward Levy-Law­son who was sub­se­quently cre­ated 1st Baron Burn­ham. The Burn­hams en­joyed a large cir­cle of con­tacts through their long as­so­ci­a­tion with The Daily Tele­graph and the­atri­cal con­nec­tions.

Law­son Lu­cia, daugh­ter of the 4th Baron, de­scribed week­end house par­ties be­fore the Sec­ond World War. Guests in­cluded the en­tire cast of the Rus­sian Ballet, Joyce Gren­fell and Sir Mal­colm Sar­gent.

Flow­ers for each bed­room were de­liv­ered on the Fri­day and white cards with guest’s names would be slot­ted into hold­ers on the doors to their rooms.

The staff bathed in the af­ter­noon to leave am­ple hot wa­ter for guests ar­riv­ing that evening. At 7.30pm the dress­ing gong went for fam­ily and guests to change into evening dress.

Tele­vi­sion be­ing a rar­ity the house party would make its own evening en­ter­tain­ment such as cha­rades and word games.

Af­ter Sun­day lunch, Lady Burn­ham would pre­side over a bon­fire as the en­tire house party was mus­tered to tidy the grove, a fea­ture of the grounds con­trib­uted by the Waller fam­ily when ear­lier own­ers.

Hall Barn had long been noted for its pheas­ant shoot­ing par­ties one of which, in 1913, had achieved the world record bag of 4,000 birds.

Among regular ‘guns’ were King Ed­ward VII and later his son King Ge­orge V, Hitler’s For­eign Min­is­ter von Ribben­trop, Joseph Kennedy then fu­ture pres­i­dent JFK’s fa­ther was US Am­bas­sador to Lon­don, and James Bond au­thor Ian Flem­ing.

Hall Barn played its part in the Sec­ond World War by hous­ing the Wal­lace Col­lec­tion, ar­mour from the Tower of Lon­don and items from the Bri­tish Mu­seum. Lu­cia joined the ATS (the women’s part of the army) but by omit­ting to warn there was a flag­pole on the roof a mishap was only nar­rowly averted when a pi­lot who had given her a lift home ‘buzzed’ the house at low height.

With the com­ing of peace Hall alone of Bea­cons­field’s great houses con­tin­ued in its role as the fam­ily man­sion of a sub­stan­tial es­tate.

In 1972 Richard Tyler, an ar­chi­tect spe­cial­is­ing in re­design­ing coun­try houses to meet post war con­di­tions, re­moved ad­di­tions made over the years thereby restor­ing Hall Barn to its orig­i­nal size. AS part of my role as a lo­cal jour­nal­ist, to coun­cil meet­ings.

At many meet­ings, am the only per­son be­low the age of 40 and am of­ten one of the only women.

I was once in a parish coun­cil meet­ing in Lit­tle Chal­font Vil­lage Hall when 20 emo­tive pen­sion­ers came in bang­ing their walk­ing sticks, order­ing the coun­cil­lors to agree to fund a £10,000 road cross­ing for them.

Th­ese pen­sion­ers were from Hal­i­fax House and they wanted a cross­ing across Chal­font Sta­tion Road so they could reach the shops in Che­nies Pa­rade.

The politi­cians were all rather shocked at how pas­sion­ate the troop of el­derly peo­ple were. They may also have been scared. Ei­ther way the money was re­leased.

This is why lo­cal pol­i­tics is im­por­tant. lets old peo­ple cross roads.

Af­ter the cross­ing was built, a 90-year-old man said he was able to cross the road in­de­pen­dently for the first time in years.

He could go to the shops, and for him, that was life chang­ing. He no longer had to en­dure the daily tango with death as he fetched his pint of milk.

can­vassed some of my friends’ views. ‘ don’t vote be­cause don’t know enough about it all, and don’t feel like should have a say’ was the gen­eral re­sponse.

An­other train of thought was ‘ wasn’t brought up think­ing about pol­i­tics and now don’t know where to start’.

Take a look around; lo­cal pol­i­tics is ev­ery­where. From re­leas­ing funds to fix­ing pot­holes, to de­cid­ing if a big devel­op­ment should be built down the road po­ten­tially blight­ing the vil­lage, to do­ing more to get more work­ing class kids into gram­mar schools. Coun­cils re­ally do wield power. The words of my friends re­ally should ring a warn­ing bell for the en­tire demo­cratic process.

Un­less more peo­ple turn out and vote, politi­cians will serve the peo­ple who do rather than fo­cussing on each de­mo­graphic.

And then, how will the coun­cil­lors know that the old peo­ple want to cross the road?

IIIIIIIIgo

It

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Hall Barn af­ter an ar­chi­tect de­mol­ished its ad­di­tions and, inset, the wartime evac­u­ated Wal­lace Col­lec­tion stored in the man­sion

Left – the es­tate in the time of the first Baron Burn­ham and right – King Ed­ward VII (on right with gum) at the Hall Barn shoot

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