On the face of it, Milton Keynes is a model of rational town planning, built from scratch fifty years ago on twenty-two thousand acres of farmland. Laid out in a North American (or if you prefer, a Roman) grid pattern, it was intend to relieve housing demand in London and embody a new mode of twentieth-century urbanism.
We all know that precept about an Englishman’s home being his castle, but as the quotation from Sir Edward Coke makes clear, a home is meant for repose as well as defence. Within the walls of the castle, the Englishman or Englishwoman’s garden may be a little Eden, a little Sissinghurst, or even a little Versailles.
Nobody knows the age and origin of the Whiteleaf Cross for certain.
I hadn’t heard of Tam Black’s shack until I saw a mention of it in a local newspaper, included in a brief description of a walk from Wendover to Dunsmore and back. There was no context and no precise location given. But the name, and the fact that it was thought worth mentioning, intrigued me. Who was Tam Black and how did he come to have a shack in this part of the Chiltern Hills?