Milestone and Turnpikes
Until the eighteenth century, villagers travelled slowly on local byways and drove roads. Local landowners and gentry helped improve transport by financing the first turnpike roads at the end of the seventeenth century. They were managed by local trusts and the costs of construction were recouped by tolls collected by pikemen. The Temple family of Stowe helped finance the turnpike that passed Finmere. It ran from Bedford via Stony Stratford, Buckingham, Tingewick, Aynho and Banbury to Warmington in Warwickshire. The section that bypassed Finmere (Banbury Road, the old B4031) was the first to be built in 1744. There was a turnpike at ‘Finmere Warren Gates,’ the tolls from which produced an income of £253 a year in 1784.
Toll House at Finmere Warren Gates (end of Featherbed Lane)
After construction of the turnpike, the old Roman road was left as a bridleway. In 1813, a turnpike branch was laid from the Red Lion to Bicester.
The milestone (above) for the 1744 turnpike is still in position on the opposite side of Banbury Road from the school. It is now very eroded and is covered by the hedgerow much of the year. The 1881 Ordnance Survey map shows that it originally read 'London 61 Banbury 14.' By that date an Ordnance Survey benchmark had been carved on the stone, which the map shows to be at 393.6 feet above sea level.
It is probably no more than a coincidence that this stone stands at the point that the proposed road to Stowe House was to join the Turnpike.