Valuable record will help fight against developers

Old Town Hall, Buckingham
Old Town Hall, Buckingham

The most detailed ever study of the history of Bucks towns and villages has been published at a cost of £156,000.

The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Historic Towns Project – From Markets to Metroland aims to help planners understand the special character of our towns and villages.

It includes a comprehensive historical library of information and statistics to guide future planning decisions.The report was commissioned by Bucks County Council with a £156,000 grant from English Heritage and aims to give historic areas extra protection from development.

Normally, planners refer to statutory listed building and conservation area designations, which protect individual buildings or historically and architecturally sensitive sections of towns.

But the historic towns study goes beyond these official designations, providing a comprehensive analysis of towns and villages above and below the ground.

Project leader David Green said: “While this doesn’t give statutory protection, it contains a valuable record of our historic environment, and we hope it’ll provide architects, planners and developers with a greater understanding of our heritage - what’s there, and how it came to be there – to help them plan our future sympathetically.”

Over the past five years, the project analysed archaeological data, maps, and photographs as well as documentary evidence and compiled them into an easily accessible database, illustrated with digital maps.

These will be held by the Historic Environment Records for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

Included are illustrated reports on 30 historic places, ranging from the larger towns of Buckingham Winslow, Aylesbury, and Newport Pagnell to villages that at one time aspired to become towns,.

It shows that while the county’s earliest towns have origins dating back more than 1,000 years, most were established in the Middle Ages (AD 1066 - 1536).

Buckingham is one of the earliest known settlements in the shire dating to the 10th century at least. It was fortified in 914 by Edward the Elder in response to threats from the Vikings.

The town is unusual in that it was referred to as a double burh in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles,

Lesley Clarke, Buckinghamshire County Council cabinet member planning and environment said: “The towns of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are a defining characteristic of the local landscape.

“They embody our county’s history, forming an essential part of our identity and sense of place.

“The publication of the reports will raise an awareness of our local heritage and be a useful resource in helping preserve the special characteristics of our towns and villages.”