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Winslow Hall
Winslow Hall, designed by Sir Christopher Wren

Now this seems an interesting wheeze. Apparently, the family of one of the nation’s favourite, if departed, children’s authors has launched an appeal to move and preserve the great one’s writing ‘shed.’

Not withstanding that the principal exponent allegedly earns more in a year than the plebs being canvassed could hope to amass in a lifetime. And that the family are plugged into a fortune reputed to be well into seven figures. Still, what better way to preserve personal wealth than to spend as little of one’s own filthy lucre as possible.

And on the subject of thrift, a well known saying has local origins, for whilst overseeing the attempts of a young clerk to tot up an accounts list, William Lowndes, Secretary to the Treasury, pointed out a slight error. “Oh, it’s only a few pence,” said the clerk, to which William replied “if you take care of the pence, the pounds will take care of themselves.”

Born in Winslow on November 1st 1652, after an education at Eton and Oxford William was made Secretary to the Treasury during the reign of Queen Anne, and, being ‘as able and honest a servant as ever the Crown had,’ for many years held the position of Chairman of Ways and Means in the House of Commons.

He thereby gained unofficial reverence as ‘Ways and Means’ Lowndes, and ‘Ways and Means’ would eventually became a part of the family motto.

In 1697 William purchased the manor of Winslow, and in 1699 instigated the building of Winslow Hall at the southern end of the town, which is still much apparent with its prominent chimneys and three storeys.

In fact it’s no tall story that Christopher Wren was the architect, since William was a great friend of the eminent designer. In fact Wren would not only design the new building, but also personally check many of the building accounts.

Of the Lowndes previous residence, Thomas Deely, a bricklayer from a long established family in the town, agreed to take down, clean and stack the 60,000 bricks and 12,000 tiles for the sum of £7 4s, and with £8 10s 6d ‘paid for digging the foundation of ye new House,’ construction duly began.

Having worked under Wren’s supervision on St. Paul’s Cathedral, the King’s carpenter had responsibility for all the woodwork, and indeed Wren’s influence is apparent with the oak panelling (fashioned from some of the 111 oak trees used in the Hall’s construction, many of which were brought from Stowe Park) as also the thin brass cased locks, manufactured by His Majesty’s locksmith.

The final cost of the building totalled £6,686 10s 2½d, and above the entrance door may be seen the inscribed stone documented in the original accounts; ‘Paid for cutting the Letters of Mr. Lowndes name and date of the year (1700) - 5/-’. William then lived at his new home until his death in 1724, after which although his descendants retained possession they would often be resident elsewhere.

But back to the preservation of writing dens, and of course there’s no doubt that my own little haven needs conserving for the awe of future generations. So any donations of mid oak wood preserver would be much appreciated, thereby not only obviating the need to launch a public appeal, but also of having to break into this handy 50 quid win on the Premium Bonds.