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Buckingham

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Buckingham is a small historic market town in South East England. It is located in the northern half of Buckinghamshire close to the borders of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. It is 17 miles (25 km) north of the county town Aylesbury, 13 miles west of central Milton Keynes and 58 miles (100 km) north west of London.

Understand

History

Read

The Larkrise to Candleford books by Flora Thompson tell the story of rural Britain at the end of the 19th century, and Buckingham formed the basis of the fictional Candleford. Exhibits from the BBC dramatisation of the books can be seen at the Buckingham Old Gaol museum.

Visitor information

  • 1 Tourist Information Centre, The Old Gaol, Market Hill, MK18 1JX (in the Old Gaol in the centre of town), ☏ +44 1280 823020, ✉ buckinghamtic@tourismse.com. M-Sa 10AM-4PM.

Get in

By car

Buckingham sits on the convergence of the A413 (north-south), A421 and A422 (east-west) roads. The town was by-passed in the early 1980s by creating a new section of the A421 to the south. From the east the A421 connects from the M1 at junction 13, with roads to the north 15 or 15a, with junctions 9,10 and 11 providing access to the M40 in the west. Taxis serve the town and surrounding villages, and can provide connections to Milton Keynes.

By bus

Buckingham is easily accessible by bus, with direct links to Milton KeynesBedfordBicester and Oxford with the express Stagecoach X5, Aylesbury and Winslow via the 60, and Milton Keynes and Bletchely via the X60.

By train

Buckingham's train station closed in 1964 and the closest stations are to the east in Milton Keynes Central for the West Coast Main Line (London Midland, Southern and Virgin services) for fast frequent services from London Euston, NorthamptonBirminghamManchester and Glasgow. There are also stations at Wolverton and Bletchley (for local services to London and Northampton), Bicester North (for London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill) and Bicester Town (for Oxford). Winslow railway station is scheduled to re-open in 2019 as part of the new East-West rail project.

By cycle

Buckingham is on the National Cycle Route 50 that runs from Buckingham to Daventry. A new off-road cycleway connects Buckingham to Winslow via Padbury and Adstock, following the route of the A413. A number of cycle paths run though the town parks.

Get around

Most of the town is easily accessible by foot, with the majority of the visitor attractions within the town centre and the adjoining historic Prebend End. There are numerous walks that provide gentle perambulations around the town including a town trail (map available from the tourist information centre), the circular walk and the railway walk. A town bus service provides connections between the outlying housing areas, the town centre and Maids Moreton. The town has a number of taxi companies where journeys can be pre-booked by telephone, and some taxis that can be occasionally found in the town centre taxi ranks.

See

Buckingham's town centre is a traditional Georgian market town which is pleasant to wander. A street market fills the Market Hill on Tuesday and Saturday and a flea market takes place in the picturesque High Street in the old cattle pens area.

Directly linked to the town centre is the River Great Ouse which winds its way through the town, through Bourton Park to the east, and to Chandos Park to the west. Swans, ducks and moorhens can be seen by the small boardwalk and riverbank by the town centre car park.

Specific sites that merit a visit include:

  • 1 Buckingham Old Gaol, Market Hill, MK18 1JX (right in the heart of the town centre, looking like a small castle), ☏ +44 1280 823020, ✉ info@buckinghamoldgaol.org.uk. M-Sa 10AM-4PM. The purpose-built 1748 prison, extended by the famous architect George Gilbert Scott in 1839 is now the town museum (including a Flora Thompson exhibition) and houses tourist information centre. Adults £3.50, children £2.00 (under 5s free), family ticket £9.00 (2 adults and up to 3 children).
  • 2 Chantry Chapel, Market Hill, MK18 1JX (opposite the post office in between Market Hill and West Street), ☏ +44 1296 730349, ✉ buckinghamchantry@nationaltrust.org.uk. Tu-Sa 10AM-3PM. A 15th-century chapel, restored by Gilbert Scott in 1875, now home to a National Trust second-hand bookshop. Free.
  • 3 Stowe Landscaped Gardens, New Inn Farm, Stowe, MK18 5EQ (2 miles north of Buckingham, access via Stowe Avenue), ☏ +44 1280 817156, ✉ stowe@nationaltrust.org.uk. Daily 10AM-4PM (winter) and 10AM-6PM (summer). Very significant 18th-century gardens now owned by the National Trust, covering 250 acres with many follies and sculpture. Adult £8.00, child £4.10.
  • 4 St Peter and St Paul Parish Church, Castle Hill, MK18 1BS (on top of the old castle hill between Castle Street and Church Street), ☏ +44 1280 821509. Daily 10AM-5PM (approx). Built in 1780, and significantly altered and extended in the 1860s by Sir George Gilbert Scott with impressive gothic interior and chancel. Free entry.

Do

There are a number of events organised during the year by the town council and many voluntary organisations. The local paper Buckingham and Winslow Advertiser is published weekly every Friday and is a good source of information.

  • 1 The Film Place, University of Buckingham Chandos Road Building, Station Road, MK18 1EG (on the corner of Station Road and Chandos Road, free parking across the street), ✉ info@thefilmplace.org.uk. Buckingham's local community cinema shows blockbusters, art and foreign films on a regular basis in the University of Buckingham's upgraded theatre.
  • 2 Swan Pool & Leisure Centre, London Road, MK18 1AE, ☏ +44 1280 817500. M-F 6:30AM–10PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM. Refurbished and expanded leisure centre with swimming pool, gym, squash and climbing wall.
  • Buckingham Summer Festival, Various locations around Buckingham, ✉ enquiries@buckinghamsummerfestival.org. A week-long festival of music, normally held first week of July.
  • Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone Circuit, Dadford Road, NN12 8TN (6 miles north of Buckingham via Dadford), ☏ +44 844 3750 740. Home of the British Grand Prix, and the host of many major motor and bike racing in the UK throughout most of the year. Numerous driving experiences available from Silverstone or the on-site Porsche Centre.

Buy

Buckingham used to be famous for its lace and wool industries, but these ceased to exist by the start of the 20th century. There are now many artists, small crafts and food companies that are in the locality, and their products such as honey and soap can be found in the tourist information centre and gift shops.

Most main banks have branches in the town centre, including Barclays, Lloyds and Nat West. Santander has a branch in the university campus. Currency exchange can be carried out at some of the banks and the post office. There are numerous ATMs around the town.

Bookshops

  • 1 Buckingham Old Gaol, Market Hill, MK18 1JX, ☏ +44 1280 823020. Daily 10AM-4PM. Local interest books, Flora Thompson related titles, maps and guides.
  • 2 University Bookshop, Hunter Street, MK18 1EG, ☏ +44 1280 823444, ✉ book.shop@buckingham.ac.uk. M-F 9:30AM-5PM. Wide range books in addition to the expected academic titles, open to the public.
  • 3 WH Smith, 16 Market Square, MK18 1NW, ☏ +44 1280 813280. M-Sa 8:30AM-5:30PM. Range of fiction and non-fiction books, magazines and newspapers.

Local food

  • 4 Boycott Farm Shop, Welsh Lane, Stowe, MK18 5DJ (Just a minute north of the A422, 2½ miles west of Buckingham), ☏ +44 1280 821286, ✉ shop@boycottfarm.co.uk. M-Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 10AM-4PM.
  • 5 Buckingham Bakery, 5 Market Square, MK18 1JM. M-F 7:30AM-2PM, Sa 8AM-2PM. Traditional range of breads, cakes and sandwiches, often sold out by lunchtime.

Home and gifts

  • 6 Secret Messages Interiors, 8 Bridge Street, MK18 1EL. Described as bespoke, quirky & unique for interior design and accessories
  • 7 At Home, 1 Well Street, MK18 1EW, ☏ +44 1280 821452, ✉ hello@athomebucks.co.uk. Modern range of products for the home
  • 8 The Duke's Music, 24 Market Hill, MK18 1JX (opposite Chantry Chapel), ☏ +44 1280 821771, ✉ info@thedukesmusic.co.uk. A tardis of a shop selling sheet music and instruments

Eat

Buckingham has a wide range of food options from fast food to fine dining. Most establishments are within the town centre. For picnics in the park there is a Waitrose supermarket with deli counters and fresh bread, and take out food such as fish and chips, Subway sandwiches and Kebabs can be obtained in the town centre. On market days there are usually stalls selling bread, cakes, olives and fresh fruit and vegetables.

  • Buckingham Fort, 17 West Street, MK18 1HE (close to the town centre), ☏ +44 1280 822842. Daily noon-2:30PM, 6-11PM. Indian restaurant with popular Wednesday and Sunday banquet specials.
  • Cheng Du, Meadow Walk (located in the Meadow Walk pedestrian precinct between the main town car park and Market Hill), ☏ +44 1280 815898. Su-Th 5:30-10:30PM, F Sa 5:30-11:30PM. Chinese, very popular for the Chinese New Year special menu. Mains £7 to £10.
  • Nelson Street, 53/54 Nelson Street, MK18 1BT (a 3-minute walk from Castle Street, very limited on-street parking), ☏ +44 1280 815556, ✉ louiskitchen@hotmail.co.uk. Tu-Sa noon-3PM, 6-11PM. Modern English menu, popular dinner spot, booking recommended. Mains £10 to £20.
  • 1 Prego, 4 High Street, MK18 1NT (in the town centre), ☏ +44 1280 821205, ✉ mail@pregorestaurants.com. Wide range of Italian dishes including pasta, risotto and pizza Mains £8 to £14.
  • 2 The Garage, 3 Well Street, MK18 1EW, ☏ +44 1280 832300. M-Sa noon-11PM (last orders at 10:45PM), Su noon-7PM. Modern British menu with extensive cocktail list. In a refurbished Georgian building that had been a garage. £10-25 (main course).
  • 3 Binn Smokehouse (Buckingham Inn), 14 Market Hill, MK18 1JX, ☏ +44 1280 830109. Previously known as The Whale, now managed by the owners of Nelson Street restaurant. Combines pub with a smokehouse restaurant. £9-26.

Drink

Buckingham has a large number of pubs and bars ranging from family friendly to youth orientated to the traditional.

  • 1 The Kings Head, 7 Market Hill, MK18 1JX (on the corner of Market Hill and Moreton Road), ☏ +44 1280 812442, ✉ mail@thekingsheadcoffeebar.com. Under new management in 2016 with new coffee and lunch menu for day time and extensive gin selection for the evenings
  • 2 The Mitre, Mitre Street (about 10-minute walk from the town centre, close to the University). Traditional village pub feel, Cask Marque Real Ales, and listed in the CAMRA guide. Milton Keynes and North Bucks CAMRA Pub of the Year 2015
  • 3 The Woolpack, 57 Well Street, MK18 1EP (short walk from the town centre), ☏ +44 1280 817972, ✉ mail@buckinghamwoolpack.co.uk. M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-10:30PM. Large outdoor area that backs onto the river. Cask Marque Real Ales, and listed in the CAMRA guide. Range of bar food. Limited on-street parking.
  • The New Inn, 18 Bridge Street, MK18 1AF (short walk from the town centre, opposite the junction with Bourton Road), ☏ +44 1280 423677, ✉ info@newinnbuckingham.co.uk.

Sleep

Accommodation in Buckingham is generally good value, but can be in high demand and prices rocket for big events at the nearby Silverstone Circuit, particularly the Grand Prix weekend in July. There are two hotels located in the heart of the town centre:

  • 1 The Villiers, 3 Castle Street, MK18 1BS (in the town centre, own free car park), ☏ +44 1280 822444, ✉ villiers@oxfordshire-hotels.co.uk. Part of the small regional Oxfordshire Hotels chain of hotels, with a good restaurant and atmospheric bar with large open fire open to non-residents. 49 en suite rooms.
  • 2 The White Hart, 1-2 Market Square, MK18 1NL (located in the heart of the town centre), ☏ +44 1280 815151, ✉ whitehart.buckingham@goodnightinns.co.uk. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Part of the Good Night Inns chain with 18 rooms. Located above a popular pub and restaurant, the budget option for the town centre. £49-79.

Two further hotels are on the southern edge of the town on the bypass:

  • 3 Best Western Buckingham Hotel, A421 Bypass, MK18 1RY (on the southern edge of town on the A421 bypass, free parking on site), ☏ +44 1280 822622, ✉ info@thebuckinghamhotel.co.uk. Formerly the Four Pillars, the Best Western has 70 rooms and a good restaurant on site and the only hotel in the town with a pool. Ideal for visitors with their own transport. Free parking. from £62.
  • 4 Travelodge, A421 Bypass, MK18 1SH (on the southern edge of town on the junction of the A421 and A413 behind the Shell garage, own free car park), ☏ +44 871 984 6087. A budget option near bus stops into the town centre and to Winslow and Aylesbury. About a 20-25 minute walk into the town centre. The adjacent Little Chef has now closed, but is a 5-minute walk to the large Tesco supermarket which has a cafe. from £19.

There a more rural location try:

  • Whittlebury Hall Hotel & Spa, Whittlebury, NN12 8QH (On the A413, 7 miles north of Buckingham), ☏ +44 1327 850489, ✉ reservations@whittleburyhall.co.uk. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Standard room rates (B&B) £200-250, with special offers during quiet periods.
  • 6 The Meadow Bank Guesthouse, Meadow Bank, Duck Lake, Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, MK18 1RF (On the A413 1 mile north of Buckingham town centre), ☏ +44 1280 813268, ✉ info@themeadowbank.co.uk. Two bedrooms bed & breakfast

Connect

Buckingham post codes all start MK18. There is a post office is in Market Hill, open Monday to Friday 9AM to 5:30PM, Saturday 9AM to 12:30PM.

The telephone code for Buckingham is 01280. There are no mobile phone shops in the town, though top-up cards can be purchased in many shops in the town, and a limited range of mobile phones are available in the large Tesco supermarket on the bypass.

Go next

Buckingham is a good base for exploring the Ouse Valley area, including many walks around the Buckingham area including a two mile walk through fields to the historic 14th-century Thornborough Bridge (reputed to be the oldest bridge in Buckinghamshire) and the nearby second century Roman Burial Mounds.

Silverstone Grand Prix circuit is only 6 miles north of Buckingham, home of the British Grand Prix and many other car and motor bike races during the year, together with a track driving school, track experiences and a Porsche driving centre.

Within a short drive of Buckingham there is the small market town of Winslow (6 miles) with Claydon House (National Trust) nearby, Bicester (11 miles) and the factory outlets and Brackley (7 miles), another picteresque market town with a large antique centre.

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