« PoprzedniaDalej »
documents, chronicles, or histories. It is unknown to Leland, who rode from Thame to Aylesbury, and must have noticed it if it was in existence in the sixteenth century, and equally so to the group of antiquaries who industriously investigated English history in the time of Elizabeth and James I. Camden seems never to have heard of it; neither Spelman nor Verstegan say a word about it, though the latter enlarges upon the meaning of the name Whitecliff. But what is most decisive is the silence observed concerning it in Drayton's "Polyolbion." Drayton had a peculiar fondness for the Vale of Aylesbury and the hills of "hoary Chiltern," which are noticed at length in two different parts of the poem. Neither in the "Polyolbion" itself nor in Selden's equally learned and interesting notes is there any mention of the Cross; and when it is considered how well the Cross would have lent itself to Drayton's general plan, the conclusion that it existed not in his time is irresistible. Whether Browne Willis mentions it or not I am ignorant. Nor is this material; it was existing in his time, though it could not then be considered very ancient. The earliest mention of it that can be quoted is in a pamphlet by a certain Mr. Wise, printed in 1742, best known through the quotations of subsequent writers. Who Mr. Wise may have been I know not, nor have I read the lucubrations in which he recklessly assigned an antiquity of something like a thousand years to a monument which the most superficial inspection of authorities would have shown to have probably existed not more than a hundred. At the date of his pamphlet it had, in fact, if I am right in my inferences, existed exactly a century. What, then, is it, and what purpose was it designed to serve? The true answer seems to be that it is
A MILITARY BEACON USED IN THE CIVIL WAR (1642-1644),
and that its purpose was to mark with unmistakable clearness, to those stationed in the vale, from Wallingford northwards, the "Whitecliff Cross " route from the vale, by way of Hampden and Missenden, to the headquarters of the Buckinghamshire Lieutenants at Amer
sham. Probably it formed part of Hampden's general scheme of defence for the Chiltern Hills, which protected London from the King's threatened advance; and the Bledlow Cross served a similar purpose. The two roads indicated by these Crosses are "ridgeways," much less easily seized by the enemy's skirmishing parties than the lower passes of Ellesborough and Saunderton. Two memorable attempts were made to seize the road from Oxford to London through the Chilterns, by surprising the garrison of Wycombe. The first was Lord Wentworth's well-known attack on that town, which ended in a desperate fight in the fields on its east and south sides, and the retreat of the attacking force after losing 900 men. The second was an attempt by Prince Rupert, made with the same object, in which Hampden intercepted him, and ultimately forced him to the memorable engagement of Chalgrove Field, in which the great patriot and soldier was mortally wounded. The current accounts of this engagement speak of a "Beacon Hill," on which the Parliamentary forces, already roused by the news of Rupert's sortie, were descried soon after sunrise.* This" Beacon Hill" was no doubt the hill still so denominated in the parish of Lewknor; and the Bledlow and Whitecliff Crosses perhaps belonged to a general system of beacons distinguishing each hill from the rest of the range.
THE PRESENT SHAPE OF THE CROSS
dates from about seventy years ago, when the Hampden estate passed from the family of Trevor to that of Hobart. Previously to that time, as may be seen from the descriptions in Gough's Camden (1806) and Brayley
"His Highnesse Prince Rupert's late Beating up of the Rebels Quarters at Postcombe and Chinnor, and his Victory in Chalgrove Field on Sunday morning, June 18. Printed at Oxford by Leonard Lichfield, Printer to the University, 1643."
sun had risen, the alarm had spread, and a party of the Parliament's horse appeared on the side of the Beacon Hill."-LORD NUGENT'S LIFE OF HAMPDEN. The general use of such beacons for military purposes needs no illustration. There were beacons in suitable places along the roads traversing the wooded hill country: Penn Beacon" still retains the name.
and Britton's "Beauties of England and Wales," the lower part of the shaft had widened, owing to the action of the weather, to fifty feet, or twice its proper dimensions. The upper margins of the base, marked by dotted lines in the woodcut, then had a greater spread in the upward direction, and reached nearly to the arms of the Cross; the lower part of the shaft, as it now exists, represents an imperfect restoration made in 1826. The monument is now in urgent need of repair, and many tons of chalk would be required to replace that which has been washed down the steep slope of the cliff by the rains and thaws of two centuries and a half. Should this ever be done, it would be easy to carry the shaft somewhat lower, and thus restore the Cross to its proper proportions. It may be added that the Cross is evidently connected with an ordinary fire-beacon, the earthen mound of which, on the crest of the hill close to the top of the Cross, is well known to all who visit it. Possibly the chalk Cross was first suggested by the exposure of the chalk when the sods were cut to form the beacon mound. When this beacon was lighted by kindling a bonfire on the top of the mound, the white surface of the Cross must have been vividly illuminated, thus clearly identifying to distant observers the hill on which the beacon stood. In its original state, with the stepped base, the Cross, thus lifted up, must have been a singularly striking object.
E. J. PAYNE.
OBITUARY OF CAPTAIN BOUGHEY BURGESS.
COMMUNICATED BY W. ARNOLD BURGESS.
CAPTAIN BOUGHEY BURGESS, who died suddenly of heartfailure at 4, Clifton Terrace, Southsea, on May 18, 1897, was the second son of John Burgess, Esq., who lived in London, and at Amersham and Elmhurst, Great Missenden, Bucks, early in the century.
The deceased officer was born at Amersham on May 11, 1822, and entered the 20th Bombay Infantry Regiment in 1842, proceeding to India, where he shortly afterwards married Miss Gardner.
His regiment was stationed principally at Poona and Ahmednuggar, and after ten years' service he returned to England in 1852, and after the death of his first wife, who left two daughters, he lived at Little Hampden for some time near his brother, the late Rev. William Johnson Burgess, for many years Vicar of Lacey Green Princes Risborough. Like him, he took a great interest in the archæology of the county, and as Hon. Secretary of the Bucks Archæological Society contributed in the RECORDS OF BUCKS articles on "the Earthworks at Hampden and Little Kimble," and on the "Entrenchments at Bray's Wood, near Lee, Great Missenden," both of which papers were read before the Society in 1855. In this same year, Captain Burgess was placed on a committee for the formation of a County Museum at Aylesbury. He married, secondly, on September 11, 1860, Elizabeth Anne Ballard, daughter of John Ballard, Esq., of York Terrace, Cork, and leaves three sons and six daughters by his second wife. Like his first cousin, the late Rev. Bryant Burgess, Rector of Latimer, he was devoted to natural history and was a good artist. Captain Boughey Burgess was for thirty-six years Secretary of the
Royal United Service Institution, Whitehall, and during that long period discharged with great ability the onerous duties of that responsible position.
As an evidence of the esteem in which Captain Boughey Burgess was held, the following notes on his death are extracted from the Royal United Service Institution Journal.
"Much regret has been experienced by all who have been associated with the late Secretary of the Royal United Service Institution, Captain Boughey Burgess, at his death... Captain Burgess entered the Hon. East India Company's Service on the 15th March, 1842, as Ensign in the Bombay Army, and was appointed to the 20th Bombay Native Infantry on 30th May following. On 21st January, 1845, he was attached to the Public Works Survey at Ahmednuggar, where he remained for some. time. On 21st January, 1846, he was promoted to Lieutenant in the 20th Bombay N. I., and retired from the Service with the brevet rank of Captain on the 3rd November, 1854. On the death of Mr. Tonna, Secretary of the Royal United Service Institution, in April, 1857, Captain Burgess was in the following month, appointed his successor, and for thirty-six years carried out loyally and conscientiously the duties of his office. Captain Burgess during his long connection with the Institution, witnessed the introduction of many changes and improvements, and he lived to see its removal to new premises, and its entrance on a career of increased utility. The Journal, which is now the most important portion of the work carried on by the Institution, was for many years edited with great care and ability by Captain Burgess; and when the time arrived for his retirement, in 1893, he was unanimously voted a pension for life by the Council, a resolution which was heartily acquiesced in by the Members at the Annual Meeting. Captain Burgess' long and faithful services to the Institution were fully appreciated by the Members and the Council, and it is with great regret that his decease is announced in this Journal."