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A Rambling Reminiscence
Walton Church

Being no doubt related to age, sadly the urge seldom comes upon me nowadays, but nevertheless I still feel the need to occasionally venture into the urban wilderness, and regress to a quiet oasis where, even after some 50 years, memories awake of the lush Buckinghamshire countryside of pre Milton Keynes. The problem is actually getting to these places, for the maps in the ‘sat nav’ between my ears were last updated about 1967, and not knowing, nor wishing to know, the difference between an H7 and a V4, getting lost is quite accepted as par for the course. In fact from the original B roads and farm tracks the area is now almost unrecognisable, although a few fairly unchanged surroundings do remain, where it’s possible to reminisce. Despite being more chopped about than a jellied eel, the old road from Simpson to Newport Pagnell is still extant in short lengths, and in the appropriate months one of the highlights of an after school evening was to cycle to the canal bridge at Woughton, and there exchange banter with the local kids, for whom this was a favoured spot for bathing. Further along, at Little Woolstone a lane branched towards the church and led to the old water mill, of which my early glimpse in the fading glow of a summer’s eve is forever laid amidst those treasured dreams of yesteryear. As for the village of Milton Keynes, which had to sacrifice its name for the greater good, here in the dwindling depths of the rural environs I had, for a couple of years, the dubious pleasure of being employed at the Milton Keynes Development Corporation Tree Nursery, where the fiery outbursts of the Plant and Equipment Buyer became the stuff of legend. The acres have long since been overlaid, but at least in the centre of the village it’s possible to visualise the days gone by, and the country road which wended towards Broughton. As for other villages, at Walton the key to the church could be borrowed from Mr. Hooton at Walnut Tree Farm, and the walk past the pond in his garden to the front door seemed almost as long as that to the church, along a narrow track. Not that any study of ecclesiastical architecture was the reason for the visit, but more the fact that the remoteness - long before the arrival of the Open University - allowed ‘musical’ selections to be belted out with carefree abandon on the church organ. Mr. Hooton’s father had bought the farm for his son as a thanksgiving for his safe return from the First World War, and it would be an extremely sad irony that his death was said to have been hastened by the compulsory purchase of the farm acres for new city development. Yet whilst the loss of the countryside was inevitable, to their pioneering credit Milton Keynes Development Corporation did try to retain some character of the individual villages, and in many cases for those who remember ‘the way we were’ small pockets of originality still remain. In fact paradoxically had it not been for M.K.D.C. many places of historical significance would have never been preserved, nor, without the professional expertise of their archaeological unit, would many have ever been discovered.