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Lady Grace Bennett
Cliff Taylor is showing his granddaughter where, for a while,
he was a wireless operator during wartime service at Calverton Weald.

Milton Keynes Citizen, September 27, 2012

It's always pleasing when an aspect of our local heritage finds national coverage on television and recently the restoration of Calverton Manor house has been featured.

As told in the television programme, the story of the murder in the servants' hall of Lady Grace Bennett is well known. As for the fate of her murderer, in the writings of Celia Fiennes, a lady famed for her 17th century travels throughout England on a donkey, an eye witness account is provided; and by the rich Mrs. Bennetts House remarkable for her coveteousness which was the cause of her death, her treasures tempted a Butcher to cut her throate, who hangs in chains just against her house.'

Nine years his junior, Grace, the daughter of Gilbert Morwood, of London, had been the wife of Simon Bennett, whose initials are seen above the porch. However, since there was a previous Simon Bennett, and since both have memorials in nearby Beachampton church, it's perhaps best to elaborate a little upon this.

The village of Beachampton had been purchased around 1609 by Sir Thomas Bennett, who had been the Lord Mayor of London in 1603. Locally, he had purchased many parcels of land, and within a few years also bought the manor of Calverton.

Simon, his second son, who was made a baronet in 1627, would become a renowned benefactor not only locally but also further afield, for he applied funds to the Master and Fellows of University College, Oxford, which allowed them to complete their University buildings.

When Simon died in August 1631 only a white lozenge set into the floor was placed to his memory until through the incitements of Browne Willis, the local antiquarian, the College made eventual amends and erected a memorial on the south chancel wall - albeit 128 years late!

After Simon's death, Beachampton descended to his namesake nephew - the S.B. of the porch initials - who around 1660 transferred the family residence from Beachampton Hall to Calverton manor house.

Lady Bennett continued to live at the Calverton manor house but being very unpopular, through her 'mean and covetous ways, at her burial on September 27th 1694 she was afforded 'a most magnificent Funeral, but not the least Memorial.' Regarding the more recent history, in the television programme it was interesting to note the mention of the adjoining WW2 secret radio site.

The story of these covert outstations - Calverton, Nash, Hockliffe, Stoke Hammond etc. -has been told in recent books and in the photo above Cliff Taylor is seen showing his granddaughter where, for a while, he was a wireless operator during wartime service at Calverton Weald.

Even today many of those involved in these activities are reluctant to talk about their work but occasionally from other sources a few intriguing details are gleaned. Not least the recollections of a lady who lived in a large house in a local village; " husband was in the Royal Air Force and I was left alone. I was only too pleased to let half of it to a captain in the Royal Corps of Signals, and his WAAF officer wife. It was then that things began to happen.

"My large back bedroom was soon transformed into a radio station, complete with wall maps. Most of the language was French. Many high ranks used those stairs, including a general. Uniforms of Dutch, Belgian and French were the usual visitors. I don't know to this day what it was all about, but talking to some of the men I had a vague idea of parachuting coming into the work. But you didn't ask questions in those days, and as it is so long ago I don't expect it matters now as only my husband and I knew about our strange bedroom, and he has passed on, which leaves me, my memories and the hope there will never be another war."