An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.
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A few informal words will not, I trust, be out of place by way of introduction to this Inventory, and may help to explain both the arrangement of these pages and the manner in which the monuments have been recorded.
The volume contains (in addition to the terms of appointment and official report) a Sectional Preface which, under subject headings, calls attention to any particularly interesting examples mentioned in the Inventory; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the monuments visited; a list of monuments that the Commissioners have selected as especially worthy of preservation; a glossary of architectural, heraldic, and archaeological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments, and an index.
Under the heads of parishes, arranged alphabetically, will be found a list of their respective monuments. The chronological sequence chosen is not perhaps scientifically perfect, but it has been found a workable basis for classification. The order adopted is as follows:—
In addition to dwelling houses, the English secular class (4) includes all such earthworks as mount and bailey castles, homestead moats, etc. To the section of unclassified monuments (5) are assigned all undatable earthworks, as, for instance, unopened tumuli.
The descriptions of the monuments are of necessity much compressed, but the underlying principle on which accounts of any importance are based is the same throughout. Thus, in the case of ecclesiastical monuments, the description begins with a few words on the situation and material of the monument, together with a statement as to the historical development of its various parts. A second paragraph calls attention, when necessary, to its more remarkable features. This is followed by a concise description, mainly architectural, of its details. A fourth paragraph deals with the fittings of churches in alphabetical order, while the concluding sentence gives a general statement as to structural condition. The accounts of less important buildings, whether secular or ecclesiastical, are still further compressed, and, in the case of secular monuments, consist sometimes of a single paragraph.
The illustrations are derived from photographs taken expressly for the Commission, and reproduced by H.M.'s Stationery Office, whose work, I think, deserves special recognition. They have been chosen rather for their educational than for their aesthetic value. Had appearance alone been made the test of selection, many more might have been easily included. The map at the end of the Inventory shows the distribution of the monuments, and incidentally throws some light on the concentration of population in the country at various times before the year 1700.
The Index follows the rules laid down by a small Committee of the Commission, whose members, with a view to assisting in the co-ordination and correlation of archæological indices generally, adopted in a great measure the conclusions of the Index Committee of the Congress of Archaeological Societies.
In conclusion I may add that no monument has been or will be included in our Inventories that has not been actually inspected and the account checked in situ by a member of our own investigating staff. It may also be well to draw further attention to the fact that our Record cards may now be consulted by any properly accredited persons at our office in Scotland House. The cards contain drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments—forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and will ultimately be deposited for public reference in the Record Office.
In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these are neither numerous nor serious. Each account has been carefully checked, and nothing is mentioned that has not been personally examined. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that Mr. W. Page (General Editor of the Victoria County History) has served as a member of each Sub-Commission, and that Mr. C. R. Peers (Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries) has himself revised the reports of our investigators. I should also add that the Heraldry of the Inventory has been supervised by the Rev. E. E. Dorling, M.A., F.S.A. Nevertheless, I shall heartily welcome any corrections that may be sent to me, with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition of this volume.