Stoke Poges Society
The Stoke Poges Society was formed in May 2009 with the aim of preserving our ancient village’s history and heritage and to foster interest in our locality. It currently has 100 members.
The Society holds about six events a year, including talks, visits, members’ evenings, and it is most keen to encourage members to research their own family, or road, or any other aspect of the village that interests them, and share their findings with other members of the Society. It will make available archive material to members. It also helps people around the world searching for family connections in the village.
One of the first projects of the Society was the reprinting of Lionel Rigby’s book, A Buckinghamshire Village through 1000 years. This has been achieved with the support of the Parish Council.
Since its inauguration its members have enjoyed, among other events, a privileged visit to Eton College Library, a guided walk through the village visiting some of the more important historic buildings and explored the Hastings Family’s connection with the village. One of the highlights has been a lecture by Professor Sir Christopher Frayling on Horace Walpole’s Cat.
The Penn-Gray Museum
The society’s first event took place in July 2009 at the Penn-Gray Museum in Church Cottage, now part of Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens. One of the more interesting items there is the Gayer Bell. It is dated 1660 and inscribed with the name of Robert Gayer, then owner of the Manor House. He was undoubtedly a staunch Royalist and possibly a Jacobite sympathiser. He famously refused entry to William III of Orange in 1688 soon after his accession to the English throne, saying, ‘He has got possession of another man’s house and he shall not enter mine’. The Society has been trying to establish the history of the bell. Was it cast to celebrate the Restoration of Charles II? Where was it cast? Was this bell hung in the now-lost belfry at the Manor House? Was this the bell that ‘tolled the knell of parting day’ of Gray’s Elegy?
Thomas Gray’s Tomb
In 2011, the society succeeded in raising funds to restore Gray’s Tomb and Monument. Further details of this work and other activities leading up to Gray’s Tercentenary in 2016 can be found at the tercentenary website.
For further details on the Society please visit the website http://www.bucksvoice.net/stoke-poges-society/