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The Neptune, Swanbourne

South of Winslow the A413 passes close by The Neptune Farm at SP796250 (#1).  The pine tree suggests an inn, but the brickwork is 19th century, late in the droving era.  And why “Neptune”?  You can’t get much further from the sea than Winslow.

  * * * * *

Capt. Fremantle, on his vast 98-gunner Neptune, was third to break the French line at Trafalgar where he engaged the even vaster Santissima Trinidad and relieved it of much of its chapel silver.  With his share of this fortune he returned to Swanbourne where he already held property with his wife Betsy Wynne (another war trophy).  And bought more property.


Meanwhile a stretch of the A413 just south of Swanbourne at Holcomb (= Oakham) "Gutter" – the word explains a lot – was in trouble.  It became easily bogged & it undulated, so coaches had a hard time (#2).  The Turnpike Trust rebuilt the road on the ridge to the north, where it is today.  The plans are visible on Bryant's 1820's map of Bucks (#3).  (The Gutter runs south from Winslow Bridge and the proposed new road is bottom centre.  For Hay Way Lane see another Swanbourne article.)


Not so fast!  How was the Small Beer Hall (#4) in Holcomb Gutter (= Oakham Fm.) going to make a living now the road had moved?  In 1833 Fremantle stepped in with the solution: he offered to build a new inn, named after his old ship, facing the new stretch of road.  Note the scots pine.


An adjunct to this story: at Oakham Farm just above the Gutter is a barn (#5) where a rich man – perhaps a drover returning from London – was found hanging.  His boots were clean, despite the November mud, and £400 was missing…


An excerpt from the Aylesbury News and Advertiser, 3rd December 1836:

        'At  an  inquest held on a man found dead a verdict was  returned that  he  died `BY A VISITATION OF GOD` but later a  medical  man gave  the opinion that the man was not dead, merely in  a  trance.  People visited the coffin in the Church, where the man lay, but did not like to go alone.   The report states that `his limbs are neither stiff nor cold, and his body is at times covered in perspiration`.


Worthy of the Sunday Sport, I reckon. 

(My thanks to Ken Harris of Swanbourne for most of this.)     

The Neptune, Swanbourne image 2
Holcomb Gutter
The Neptune, Swanbourne image 3
Bryant's Map
The Neptune, Swanbourne image 4
The Small Beer Hall today
The Neptune, Swanbourne image 5
Dead Man's Barn