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 north of the county town Aylesbury, 13 miles west of central Milton Keynes and 58 miles north west of London.
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.
- Tourist Information Centre, The Old Gaol, Market Hill, MK18 1JX (located in the Old Gaol in the centre of town), ☎ +44 1280 823020, e-mail: email@example.com. Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 16:00.
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.
Buckingham is easily accessible by bus, with direct links to Milton Keynes, Bedford, Bicester and Oxford with the express Stagecoach X5, Aylesbury and Winslow via the 60, and Milton Keynes and Bletchely via the X60.
Buckingham's train station closed in 1964 and the closest stations are currently located 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, Northampton, Birmingham, Manchester 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 2017 as part of the new East-West rail project..
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.
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:
- Buckingham Old Gaol, Market Hill, MK18 1JX (right in the heart of the town centre, looking like a small castle), ☎ +44 1280 823020, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 16:00. 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 fives free), Family ticket £9.00 (2 adults and up to 3 children).
- Chantry Chapel, Market Hill, MK18 1JX (opposite the post office in between Market Hill and West Street), ☎ +44 1296 730349, e-mail: email@example.com. Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 15:00. A 15th-century chapel, restored by Gilbert Scott in 1875, now home to a National Trust second-hand bookshop. Free.
- Stowe Landscaped Gardens, New Inn Farm, Stowe, MK18 5EQ (located just 2 miles north of Buckingham, access via Stowe Avenue), ☎ +44 1280 817156, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Sunday 10:00 to 16:00 (winter) and 10:00 to 18:00 (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.
- St Peter and St Paul Parish Church, Castle Hill, MK18 1BS (located on top of the old castle hill between Castle Street and Church Street), ☎ +44 1280 821509. Monday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:00 (approx). Originally built in 1780, and significantly altered and extended in the 1860s by Sir George Gilbert Scott with impressive gothic interior and chancel. Free entry.
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.
- The Film Place, University of Buckingham Chandos Road Building, Station Road, Buckingham MK18 1EG (located on the corner of Station Road and Chandos Road, free parking across the street), e-mail: email@example.com. Buckingham's local community cinema shows blockbusters, art and foreign films on a regular basis in the University of Buckingham's upgraded theatre.
Buckingham was previously famous for its lace and wool industries, but these ceased to exist by the start of the twentieth 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, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and Nat West. Currency exchange can be carried out at some of the banks and the post office. There are numerous ATMs around the town.
- Buckingham Old Gaol, Market Hill, MK18 1JX, ☎ +44 1280 823020. Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 16:00. Local interest books, Flora Thompson related titles, maps and guides.
- University Bookshop, Hunter Street, MK18 1EG, ☎ +44 1280 823444, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Wide range books in addition to the expected academic titles, open to the public.
- WH Smith, 16 Market Square, MK18 1NW, ☎ +44 1280 813280. Monday to Saturday 08:30 to 17:30. Range of fiction and non-fiction books, magazines and newspapers.
- Boycott Farm Shop, Welsh Lane, Stowe, MK18 5DJ (Just a minute north of the A422, 2½ miles west of Buckingham), ☎ +44 1280 821286, e-mail: email@example.com. Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm, Sunday 10am to 4pm.
- Clays of Buckingham, 6 Market Hill Buckingham MK18 1JN (Opposite the Old Gaol), ☎ +44 1280 815457. Tuesday to Saturday 06.00am - 16:45pm. A traditional butcher's shop with small delicatessen and range of baked goods
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. Monday to Sunday 12:00-14:30, 18:00-23:00. 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. Sunday to Thursday 17:30-22:30, Friday/Saturday 17:30-23:30. 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, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tuesday to Saturday 12:00-15:00, 18:00-23:00. Modern English menu, popular dinner spot, booking recommended. Mains £10 to £20.
- Prego, 4 High Street, MK18 1NT (in the town centre), ☎ +44 1280 821205, e-mail: email@example.com. Wide range of Italian dishes including pasta, risotto and pizza Mains £8 to £14.
Buckingham has a large number of pubs and bars ranging from family friendly to youth orientated to the traditional.
- The Kings Head, 7 Market Hill, MK18 1JX (Located on the corner of Market Hill and Moreton Road), ☎ +44 1280 823464. Live music every Saturday
- 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.
- The New Inn, 18 Bridge Street, MK18 1AF (short walk from the town centre, opposite the junction with Bourton Road), ☎ +44 1280 423677, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Under new management from the end of 2012.
- The Whale, 14 Market Hill, MK18 1JX (in the town centre), ☎ +44 1280 815537. Central location Fullers pub, lots of live sport on TV.
- The Woolpack, 57 Well Street, MK18 1EP (short walk from the town centre), ☎ +44 1280 817972, e-mail: email@example.com. Large outdoor area that backs onto the river. Cask Marque Real Ales, and listed in the CAMRA guide. Limited on-street parking.
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:
- The Villiers, 3 Castle Street, MK18 1BS (located in the town centre, own free car park), ☎ +44 1280 822444, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- The White Hart, 1-2 Market Square, MK18 1NL (located in the heart of the town centre), ☎ +44 1280 815151, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 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 located on the southern edge of the town on the bypass:
- 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, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Originally known as 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. from £62.
- 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 and located 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 857857, e-mail: Sales@whittleburyhall.co.uk. Standard room rates (B&B) £200-250, with special offers during quiet periods.
Buckingham post codes all start MK18. A post office is located in Market Hill, open Monday to Friday 09:00 to 17:30, Saturday 09:00 to 12:30.
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.
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.