The history of Dunsmore was research extensively by Peter Jewell, a resident of Dunmore for over 30 years and he wrote this fascinating book

DUNSMORE: People and happenings remembered.

Click on the image to read People and happenings remembered – note this will open as a PDF in a new window.






Clive Duncan grew up in Dunsmore in the 1950s and 1960s and he sent the following message to the Dunsmore website which is a lovely addition to the history documented in Peter’s book:

Most interested in the history of Dunsmore village. I grew up in Dunsmore and lived at number 6 Old Ford Cottages. I knew almost everyone in the village. I played the harmonium in the small Church for the Rev White and made notes on all village events and characters.

It was an extraordinary place to live with the young mixing with the very, very elderly. The interiors of many houses had not changed since the turn of the century. An old railway carriage owned by Mr Piercy which must have been dragged up the hill by traction engine housed every kind of equipment for surveying in all climates. I knew GP Wells and the Donat family gave me an old caravan which my father took over.

I went on to become a sculptor and head of a London Art School. Dunsmore for me seemed to be a sanctuary. The beech woodlands and the views to distant hills inspired me.

Rodney Stone, a retired merchant seaman ran the Black Horse pub. His story is worth the telling.


May I continue my story where I left off in my previous note to you.

The Black Horse pub had been owned by a Paddy Noctor who kept a few milking cattle. He supplied milk by day and beer in the evening. When he left Dunsmore, the man who took his place was Commodore Rodney Rosebrook Stone, a merchant seaman who had sailed through U Boat infested oceans with food and passengers. By coincidence, a customer walked into the pub, a Commander Sherwood who had commanded one of the naval escorts during those Atlantic crossings of WW2. Both men are featured in the series ‘The World at War.’

Mrs Charlie Bouden or Bowden lived in No 1 Old Ford Cottages, she was a very tiny woman who always wore a beret and her late husband’s wellies, even to church. This meant she had difficulty in kneeling in church but as she was deaf, she cleaned the brass during the service.

Alice Cartwright lived at Snowdrop Cottage, she too was totally deaf and sang one line of every hymn behind everyone else. Her ‘Amen’ was a lonely tuneless sound. She always wore a black straw hat with imitation fruit on it. A missing piece of the stained glass window invited in the occasional wasp or butterfly which always ended up on her hat.

The Reverend White had a rasping voice clearly designed for Ellesborough Church, the small Church in Dunsmore amplified it somewhat.

My arrival in Dunsmore after a steam train from Marylebone was by taxi. The Carter brothers used huge vintage Rolls Royces with seats so low that I couldn’t see out of the window. Sitting in the back seat when the huge car climbed the steepest part of the hill to the village was more like an aircraft take off.

I worked as a child for the two Italian Farmers close by during harvest time. Static machines worked by drive belts, wheat sheaves and grain sacks with chaff blowing in your face.

The north eastern flanks of Dunsmore retained pockets of winter snow some time after the south western side showed woodland flowers.

Miss Rabjohn at No 4 Old Ford Cottages was a mathematician and Miss Elliott further down the hill was the Latin mistress at Aylesbury Grammar School.

Old Ford Cottages had one water tap between the six and woe betide the person who forgot to wrap it up in winter after use. All WCs were outside and No 5 had paraffin for lighting. As I look back, there was something of Thomas Hardy about Dunsmore.

Hikers came through from Cobbles Hill to Coomb Hill too busy reading maps to even stop and look around. I did a milk round as a boy helping the milkman up as far as Chartridge and then Dunsmore.

Playing the harmonium in the little church every other Sunday became more difficult as one of the pedals operating the bellows gave up. It meant doubly speed or no sound. If I stopped for a second, the chords would drop by a semitone and sound asthmatic. This didn’t matter as three out of the five congregation were totally deaf.

Clive Duncan


Old Ford Cottage Today
Old Ford Cottages, where Clive lived in Dunsmore, as they are today – a lovely family home!