GHOST AT THE OLD DUKE'S HEAD
THE Old Duke’s Head, Buckland, used to be two cottages with loose boxes on the left and licensed premises on the right, standing beside the lane where gipsies came to fashion pegs from branches taken from the willow trees around the village pond near Manor Farm.
The lane is no longer named Pegs Lane. The pond has been filled in, and the delicensed Old Duke's Head is a well-maintained picturesque Bucks thatched cottage.
But the atmosphere of its history is still in the building, as I was told by actor John Paul who has lived there for 15 years.
“Only one person has come back who remembered drinking a pint here. He was a thatcher and died a few years ago, but the house is meant to be haunted by a Chinaman.
“It was a pub for a very long time, and it does have an atmosphere of something strange. When we were doing up our bedroom we slept in the haunted room on the other side of the house. “In the early hours of the morning someone started climbing the stairs leading straight into the room. I sat up and listened, and the steps faded away," he said.
It was only in the morning he learnt his wife Jean also sat up in bed and listened intently to the sound of footsteps at the same moment.
“Even when I was alone here for the first time I woke up and found myself talking to someone. I was cursing him as though he must be unfriendly.
“But as I came more awake I asked myself ‘Why am I calling him this way?’ Ever since, I have tried to think he must be friendly, and there’s no reason to be frightened,” said John Paul, who glayed a major part in the TV series “Doomwatch”.
He has just completed a film warning about the dangers of being careless with building site equipment, emphasising the proper use of a builder’s hoist.
Even in one scene during the filming there was nearly a tragedy due to carelessness, he said.
“A man was up to his neck in mud in a trench as a result of not taking the right precautions. Yet people were standing close to the edge of the trench watching him, and it could have caved’ in at any moment."
John Paul has a feel for the part of a safety officer. In the past he has been cast as a probation officer, and a doctor in “Emergency Wand 10" with Richard Chamberlain.
With thanks to James Paul for the newspaper article from the Bucks Herald.