I HAVE read on many occasions that before our Market Hall (later to become the Crown Hotel) was built in 1807, a smaller Market House existed just a little further south with roadway all around. Being before the age of the camera no photographs exist and I have never come across a print or an etching.

However I would like to believe “A History of the County of Buckingham” originally published nearly 100 years ago, in three volumes, that in appearance it was almost identical to the one still existing in Princes Risborough, and both were built by the same craftsmen.

The Market Hall in Princes Risborough has now been restored to considerably better condition than that shown in the old colourised postcard above, circa 1905. It still houses stalls from the Thursday Market, although they are possibly only just returning after these three strange months.

However, it is dangerous to assume, as I used to do, that if you come across an impressive old book of local history, that all the facts contained therein are 100% correct. The same book goes on to tell us that the clock bell in Marlow’s ancient Market House was removed and refitted to strike the hours in the cupola above the new 1807 Market Hall. I happily went along with this until I had my first opportunity to make the uncomfortable climb to the roof of the Crown and take some pictures. The clock bell, my picture lower left, is most clearly marked 1805, so on this basis, do we believe the information on our original Market House? The second and higher bell, formerly used to summon the fire brigade, who were stationed below, bears no date but looks to be of a similar vintage, and almost certainly not older. It has no sign of wear that would result from being regularly struck by a clock hammer.

I have printed before several pictures from my various visits “up top” at the former Crown, but the one lower right is probably new to you, peeping round the fire bell and looking down on a late 1970s High Street and showing Carter’s Travel Agents, Robert Ashworth Gents’ Outfitters, Lee’s Bakery, Humpherson’s Café, the New Court stable block before conversion, the Sun Ya Chinese Take-Away, and MacFisheries.

As regards frequent mistakes in other old local guide and history books, the three most common, showing up in several different publications, are that the bridge was built in 1836 (it was actually 1829/31), Marlow Place was built for William IV, and that the famed thriller writer Edgar Wallace is buried in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist, Little Marlow. Many visitors must have wandered around looking for it in vain. His grave is in the Little Marlow Cemetery over half a mile away off the Bourne End Road. Finally, that otherwise excellent book by John Leyland, published in 1897, “The Thames Illustrated” captions a St. Peter Street view as “The High Street, Marlow”.

Contact Michael on michael@jazzfans.co or 01628 486571