Objects tell Bucks’ special story

IS THERE a single object that somehow sums up why Buckinghamshire is such a special place to live?

A monument, statue or church, perhaps? A museum exhibit, bell tower, painting, buried treasure, pub – even a pint of beer?

Buckinghamshire Culture thought that lockdown might be the perfect time for people to reflect what makes the county unique, and launched a public search for the 100 objects which best define Buckinghamshire and celebrate its story.

That was back in May, and the nominations have been flooding in, with a host of famous faces with local connections only too happy to chip in their suggestions.

The concept derives from a landmark project devised by BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum to tell the history of the world through 100 objects, an ambitious 100-part radio series written and presented by British Museum director Neil MacGregor and broadcast over 20 weeks from January 2010.

For the Buckinghamshire version, the aim is to have a public vote to decide the best nominations, but to kick-start the project suggestions were invited from a plethora of local business, arts and political leaders living in Bucks, not to mention a past Prime Minister and an Olympic Gold Medallist.

Predictable places featuring an early mention include several listed in The Beyonder’s What’s On guide, including Bekonscot, Chenies Manor House, Cliveden House (nominated by TV presenter Gabby Logan), Milton’s Cottage, Stoke Common, and Waddesdon Manor.

Other locations included golf courses and nature reserves, museums and churches, like All Saints in Wootton Underwood, nominated by Cherie and Tony Blair.

The grave of William Penn in the grounds of the Quaker Meeting House in Jordans Village also gets a mention: the founder of Pennsylvania set out a legal framework for an ethical society that was radical for its time.

Animals receiving nominations include barn owls, Aylesbury ducks and the swan adopted as Buckinghamshire’s county emblem, not to mention the Caldecotte ichthyosaur, a fossil skeleton of an extinct marine reptile some 160 million years old which was found in 1982 by a workman during excavations near Milton Keynes.

Lions make the list too, in the shape of a statue made famous when Sir Winston Churchill used it as a platform to deliver a rousing post-Second World War speech to the people of High Wycombe in 1945 and the lion statues of Aylesbury’s Market Square.

The county has a rich collection of artefacts dating back over 300,000 years held in museums, stores, archives, National Trust properties, stately homes and gardens, and eventually Buckinghamshire Culture hopes to create an exhibition, publication, county trails and a website sharing details of the objects.

Now the organisation is asking other local residents to put forward nominations – before holding a public vote to help decide the final 100 objects.

For more details about nominations and those objects already put forward, see the website. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter #Bucks100

Did you recognise all the objects featured? From the top of the page: a pint of ale from the Chilterns Brewery, the Lenborough Hoard, a collection of more than 5,000 Anglo-Saxon coins, the traditional swan flag of Buckinghamshire, the wheelback Windsor chair, Palladian Bridge, a lithographic print by John Piper from a watercolour held in the Bucks County Museum collection, a thistle on Stoke Common, All Saints Church in Wootton Underwood, William Penn’s grave in Jordans, High Wycombe’s Red Lion statue, a mural created by local artist Teakster, and St Giles churchyard at Stoke Poges.