Where did Cannon Corner’s cannon come from?

The cannon from Buckingham's Cannon Corner
The cannon from Buckingham's Cannon Corner

Cannon Corner is the turning from in front of the former Town Hall into Castle Street.

Before the pedestrian area in front of the Town Hall was extended, this corner was a sharp

The cannon from Buckingham's Cannon Corner

The cannon from Buckingham's Cannon Corner

turning for cars and its pavement was narrow.

A cannon was embedded at the corner to protect Victorian walkers from vehicular traffic at a time when the corner lacked a pavement.

The 20th century Buckingham historian, Mr F.G. Varney of Bourtonville, claimed that the cannon was a by­product of the Duke of Buckingham’s Roman excavations near to Thornborough Bridge in 1839 and that the duke had presented his Civil War trophy to Buckingham.

The town council then decided to half bury it by their town hall.

Were it to be the case that Varney’s story is true, possibly the cannon arrived in north Bucks during 1644 when Oliver Cromwell was based in Buckingham for some months at what is now Villiers Hotel and a little later King Charles I tarried too long in Castle House along West Street.

Moving heavy artillery pieces around the countryside in the 17th century was fraught with difficulties, especially across the clinging clay of north Bucks.

Coming down Thornborough Hill would have been simple but raising the cannon from the boggy ground on the banks of Padbury Brook and hauling it up Bourton Grounds hill may have proved a ‘tug of war’ too far, and so the cannon might perhaps have rested, rusting through many a glorious revolution for almost 200 years.

The first definite mention in despatches of ‘Old Cannon Corner’ was in 1853 when the Reverend Thomas Silvester said goodbye to Dr Southam at the corner, having dined on partridge at the doctor’s house one evening.

Poor Silvester, who had been Buckingham’s vicar for little more than a year after decades as its do-­it­-all curate, was found unconscious nearby in a shop doorway, an hour later.

He died two days later.

After the cannon was moved from Cannon Corner, probably in the late 1970s, it was cleaned, painted and mounted on a new carriage made by the apprentices of Leslie Hartridge.

It now defends the entrance to North End Court, a few steps to the east of Buckingham’s bus stand.

Neither the late Dennis Granville nor I think that cannon dates from the time of our Civil War.

It’s more likely to have been cast during the late 18th or early 19th century.

Our duke had owned heavy weapons­ – it is recorded that he installed 12 brass cannons on his yacht that took him on a Grand Tour around the Mediterranean Sea.

Perhaps this cannon was beyond repair.