History book is better late than never

Book on Drayton Beachamp Margaret Ross  &  David Lonsdale
Book on Drayton Beachamp Margaret Ross & David Lonsdale
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IT was meant to be completed in time for the Millennium celebrations, but then things do move a tad slower in the sleepy village of Drayton Beauchamp.

Now, 12 years behind schedule, the village is gearing up for the release of history book, Drayton Beauchamp: The Village That Time Passed By.

Its author, Margaret Ross, said: “The district council had suggested that Bucks villages do some project to celebrate the Millennium but because there are so few people in Drayton Beauchamp – only 153 people in 63 properties – we talked very enthusiastically in the parish meetings about it for the next seven years.

“In the end the chairman, being my husband, said that Margaret will do something.”

So Margaret set about interviewing almost all the people in the village about their experiences in times gone by as well as those who used to live there but had moved away.

“It takes a long time and I have aged greatly in the process,” said Margaret, who writes the Drayton Beauchamp village column in The Bucks Herald.

“It’s been so long that now we can’t remember who it was from the district council who asked us to write the book in the first place.”

She said her research revealed the village had a surprisingly rich history.

“It is much older than you would think. It goes back to the Domesday Book. Saxon remains were found when they put in the A41 bypass but there were probably people around before that.

“It is absolutely ancient.

“There have been such illustrious people here and things happening such as murder. It is a fascinating place to study as lots of families inter-married so the same names keep cropping up.

“It is easier to do because it is much smaller – it is quite self-contained.”

The ‘murder’ took place in 1839 – and the story behind it is bizarre.

Two farmers, who were best friends, were staggering home after a day of drinking. One took a slightly different route and, as a prank, jumped out on the other. But the other man did not realise it was his friend and in the ensuing tussle lashed out and killed him.

“It was a very sad story. Apparently he was only given five months in jail,” said Margaret.

“The court recommended mercy and suggested he didn’t drink again.”

The book features 20 pages of photographs, many in colour.

Margaret’s colleague David Lonsdale took pictures of most of Drayton Beauchamp’s current inhabitants, while they were also able to source several old photos of the village.

Margaret is now planning an official launch ceremony for specially invited guests at her home in April.

> To order the book, cover price £10, phone 01296 630098.