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London Ford, Near J10 of the M40



First I must thank Julie Adams of Home Farm, Bainton, who contacted me via this website & has supplied me with so much information, including a picture of the 1793 Davis map of the area (#1).  LF is on the northern edge of Bayards, now Baynard’s, Green.  (“Jarvis’s House” on the map is at J10 of the M40 today; in the 13C tournaments used to take place there: troop-training before engaging the French, I’ve been told...)



Just as we look for a dozen different ways from A to B in a car to avoid traffic, drovers did the same – to avoid tolls.  It wasn’t always the payment that annoyed them; it was the delay as the restless beasts were counted through.  As George Bourne says in A Farmer’s Life, “they’d lose a day goin’ round sooner’n they’d pass a gate”.1


As they walked into Oxon, Bucks & Northants from the west, drovers were usually aiming for the areas around Aylesbury or Leighton Buzzard, both of which offered easy access to the North London markets.



Just south of Croughton, in the bottom of a field at SP 540315, is an unlikely arched bridge only 4 foot wide over a brook (#2,3) with the pretentious name of “London Ford”2.  So drovers – well it certainly wasn’t wagons or coaches – crossed here, but on the way to and from where?  Well, the ‘from’ is Croughton and Aynho, villages mentioned in Roderick’s account book of 1838 with plenty of evidence – pines, drinking areas & stories – of droving activity.  The ‘to’ was often Stratton Audley, north of Bicester, from where they would continue south-eastwards down “London Way” to Marsh Gibbon and into Aylesbury Vale.



The grass had been poor for many miles – Tower Farm, near London Ford, was known as ‘Starve hall Farm’ in the 19C – but now with every step the pasture improved, till by Creslow it was fit for a king (see under Bucks).



As for the routes between London Ford and Stratton: one would take them through Hardwick – see #4  – another could well have been via Julie Adams’ farm where the (possibly Roman) route was once lined with a hedge of layered ash (#5).


1 Quoted in The Drovers by K J Bonser

London Ford, Near J10 of the M40 image 1
Richard Davis 1793
London Ford, Near J10 of the M40 image 2
Approach to..
London Ford, Near J10 of the M40 image 3
..London Ford!
London Ford, Near J10 of the M40 image 4
Road from Hardwick
London Ford, Near J10 of the M40 image 5
Track near Bainton