Friday, 21 September 2012

Dog Walking in South Bucks with Digby

With the Mog tucked up in the garage under its wraps, we set out on our daily Dog Walk again. This time we are taking:-

The Royal Standard of England Pub Walk. 

The Royal Standard of England, is located at Forty Green Buckinghamshire, just north of Beaconsfield. 

The Pub is reckoned to be the Oldest Free House in the country. They are a Dog Friendly Pub as are the Sister Pubs of the Harte & Magpies, Coleshill and the Red Lion at Penn.  Dogs are allowed in the Bars.

 The RSOE offers a coloured map of the Dog Walk in the bar. It is a lovely walk using Public Footpaths signposted by Buckinghamshire County Council. It involves using the edges of Cornfields, Fenced Footpaths, Woodland and offers Short and Long Walks from the Pub Car Park.

Looking back towards the Pub and this small barn on the second side of the square.

Crossing the second field past lovely old Chevington House

 Looking across the Valley. We will be over on that side later.

Another view of Chevington House. Lovely views from their bedrooms

 Ann & Digby on the Fenced Footpath

The view looking south back towards the Pub.

Heading towards the second woodland.

Looking due East to the path wich runs behind the distant house.

 My good self with Digby posing well.

Digby caught obeying me for a change.

Ann bringing up the rear on one of the Cornfield Footpaths

Arriving back at The Royal Standard of England for a welcome coffee. The Flat Roofers working on the Porch were creating a bit of a stink.

The Front Patio

 The Side Garden Patio

Some History of the Royal Standard of England 


In Roman Britain the authorities encouraged ex-legionaries to settle here with their families with a grant of land.  When the Roman Governors finally left many more settlers came from Northern Europe mostly from the German tribes, Angles, Jutes and Saxons. The heavily wooded Chilterns became an area of resistance by Romano-Celtic Britons, tribes who were pushed off their lands by these new settlers.  Forty Green was on the edge of the two cultures. Coming from the North the Saxons were huge ale drinkers where barley grows well.  The Celts were lovers of cider.  These early Saxons settlers brewed ale here, on this site because they had a good supply of water from the old Romano-Briton well in the garden. The Saxon alewife, (the brewer was nearly always a woman) would put a green bush up on a pole to let the locals know the ale was ready.  The alehouse was used as the meeting house for the cottagers in the hamlet, who mutually shared the common and woods. Here they could resolve any disputes, barter and have a drink to the goddess of barley. 
England formed out of the mix of Anglo-Saxons and Celtic Britons over the next 5 centuries and eventually united when threatened by the new Viking invaders. The last Danish Viking raids along the river Thames were in 1009 and 1010. They attacked from their longboats.   Our Saxon alehouse survived the raids in the Dark Ages because of its secluded location just out of reach of the Thames. The alehouse kept its independence, as a Freehouse was not incorporated in the large Lude estate across the road from the pub, which belonged to the old Wessex family the Godwines. Earl Harold Godwine became King Harold II who fell at the Battle of Hastings.  The first Royal Standard of England banner was a gold dragon, and was the war banner of the royal house of Wessex.  In the Roman army the Standard was known as a Draco and was carried by the Roman army’s auxiliary Sarmatian Cavalry in the 2nd Century. 


In 1066 when William the Conqueror became King of England, the neighbouring Godwine lands were granted to Norman invader RĂ©mi in 1067, because he contributed ships to William’s conquest.  The alehouse became known after the invasion, by the local West Saxons as ”Se Scip” (The Ship) from Remi-se-Scip, after the Saxon habit of giving people and places nicknames. Lude Farm, just 1000 yards west of the pub gets a listing in the Domesday Book 1086. The alehouse by being just outside the large estate was able to carry on its trade as usual. It would get business from the Norman Kings who would move the whole medieval court between Windsor Castle, Wallingford and Woodstock Palace, using the alehouse on their hunts.  Much of the trade came from transporting bricks and tiles from Penn and Tyler’s Green, going up to London by barge on the river Thames. The alehouse continued in Middle Ages by finding custom from the salt merchants and drovers of cattle who used the country lanes which connected villages and towns.  The drovers provided good trade for the alehouse.  The large cattle drives moved stock down the drovers' roads to the rich fattening pastures, and on to markets in Beaconsfield and Wycombe, and eventually to the London markets.  By using lanes passing by the pub this avoided the fees at the Beaconsfield Turnpike on the Oxford to London road. 
These roads were dangerous to travel, as thieves and robbers abounded. A decree was passed in 1304 during the reign of Edward I, that all brushwood should be cut back to 200 yards either side of the road, as a precaution against ambush.    The alehouse’s customers were the working and independent folk who would create their own entertainment.  Their revelries held at the Freehouse avoided the prying eyes of the local officials.   In 1485, a troupe of dancing men with blackened faces held a dance at the pub to celebrate Henry Tudor becoming king after the Wars of the Roses.  
Before the building of the railways, the drovers' routes were trodden by tens of thousands of cattle, sheep and geese. Riding Lane, nearby, has been worn into a “hollow-way” -a deep lane which you can still see the high banks. Animals were driven at around two miles per hour, some animals would be specially shod to protect them on their long journeys.  A canny Welsh drover named Thomas would sell his valuable droving dog at the end of a drive for a good sum at the great London fairs. He would then wait at the pub knowing the dog would find his way back to him at the first opportunity.

Roundheads and Cavaliers  

The alehouse at the end of the 17th century had been growing in size to become an inn and could now offer separate rooms instead of the communal sleeping area in one room. Civil War disrupted the cattle droving trade during hostilities.  The area around Beaconsfield was in the moving line of control between the two sides. The pub was used as a mustering place for the Royalists. King Charles I had raised his personal standard to draw his royalist supporters – The Cavaliers- to fight for his cause against the Parliamentarians –The Roundheads.  The pub had connections with Irish catholic adventurers coming over to fight for the royal Stuart cause. In November 1642 they were part of a Cavalier army led by the dashing Prince Rupert who captured Brentford. The following day they were turned back at Turnham Green by the greater Roundhead army. The pub came under the Parliamentarian control and suffered the brutality of the soldiers with a dozen cavaliers having their heads raised up on pikes outside the door, including a 12 year old Drummer boy.  His ghost still haunts the pub today.
In 1643 an advance troop of Roundheads discovered an Irish Royalist captain, Hugh of Dromagh, sleeping off his lunch in the pub, it is said of him when captured by the Roundheads and having given his word not to escape, he stood up one morning and said   “Gentlemen, I give you notice – “I’m off “, then he jumped out of a window to freedom, considering that the ‘notice’ cancelled any previous undertakings!   With the King in his Oxford headquarters the pub was on the quieter back route for messengers passing unnoticed through the lines.  Cromwell’s New Model army strengthened the power of the Parliamentary side and the King and his army faced defeat. In April 1646 King Charles I left Oxford in disguise as a servant, as the Parliamentary forces closed in.  Their party came to the pub for breakfast, trusting the loyalty of the landlord while they waited for another man to join them before setting off for Uxbridge. The King finally turned north and gave himself up to the Scots.  Over time a traditional tale told about the pub is that the young Prince Charles hid up in the priest’s hole in the roof space on his way to escape to France in 1651, after the battle of Worcester. After Charles II’s restoration to the throne, the pub was rewarded by the new king in 1663 for giving support to his executed father and his cavaliers, when they raised his Royal Standard. He honoured the landlord by agreeing to change the name of the pub from The Ship to “The Royal Standard of England”, the only pub in the country with the honour of the full title, and reverting back to the royal Wessex dragon.   Though the royalists were well served by the loyal landlord during the civil war, a more human reason emerges for the royal gesture for the pub’s name change. King Charles II was obliged to the landlord while he met his mistresses in the rooms above. The shrewd landlord with business in mind, had cashed in on his royal guest.

Highwaymen and rakes

After the Battle of Worcester a royalist trooper James Hind, without a king or cause, took to a life of crime. Hind began to rob the committee representatives appointed by Parliament to govern the counties. To avoid the attention of robbers, one committee member dressed himself with a worn out coat and kitted out an elderly horse in the cheapest gear. When he encountered Hind, the highwayman took him at face value, as the broken down old fellow he appeared to be, and gave him a gold piece. However, once he arrived at the inn, he was stupid enough to boast of his escape, and cursed Hind for a rogue. Our inn is where Hind was often put up. When he arrived later that evening, after the committee man had gone to bed, he was told what the man had said 
of him. The next day, Hind stopped the man on the road and robbed him of £50. Hind insisted he never robbed the poor and had a habit of handing out magnificent tips to the peasants who said they supported the king.  He avoided escape one day having taken the precaution of improving an old trick of evasion. Highwaymen would reverse their horse shoes, Hind shod circular horse shoes on his horse. He was caught later and Hind was pardoned by a Reading court, but taken to Worcester to be hung, drawn and quartered for treason, not robbery, in 1652. 
Highwayman had many accomplices among people who were outwardly respectable. Some of these were innkeepers.  It was usual for guests who stayed at an inn overnight to leave their money in the care of the host. The landlord or his servants would tip off the robber as to which of the day’s travellers would be worthwhile to ambush on the road. After all, he would make much more money from the highwayman than out of ordinary guests.    Inn-keeping was profitable in the early 1700’s in an age when to be a publican at all was a near admission of corrupt, if not, criminal tendencies.  
At the beginning of the 18th Century the pub as we know it today was a very different place. Most alehouses or inns such as The Royal Standard of England had their back or upper rooms, where in the smoky sweaty candle-lit atmosphere the whoring and drinking and gambling went on all night.  The quantity of spirits drunk in these taverns was enormous.  Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’ was not considered exaggerated by his contemporaries and the details of the scene were indeed taken from real life.  The sign over the doorway bears the well-known legend.

Drunk for a penny
Dead drunk for two pennies
Clean straw for nothing’

The Restoration dramatist Nathaniel Lee drank himself into Bedlam Hospital for the Insane where he declared
‘They said I was mad; I said they were mad; damn them, they outvoted me’
He was eventually released but on the day of his death ‘he drunk so hard, that he dropped down in the street , and was run over by a coach’

The Haunting of the Pub Past and Present

In the car park, there is the sound a drum beating the alarm from the young drummer boy killed, by the roundheads in 1643.

The ghost who walks through walls - There are two interpretations on the ghost in the bar - a shadowy male figure strides across the bar and then disappears in the wall next to Edmund Burkes old fireplace in the Candle Room. The first is that it is reputed to be one of the executed cavaliers.  The second version is that of a traveller accidentally killed by the notorious Earl of Barrymore in 1788. Barrymore belonged to a club called the Four Horse Club where the young wild regency bucks would bribe any coachman to give them the reins and drive at breakneck speed. The traveller was crushed outside the pub by a speeding coach and four. The bloody corpse was brought into the pub and the landlord was paid hush-money over the incident, and an unknown traveller has been haunting the downstairs ever since.

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