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Parkham History Group

The Parkham History group have so far met 3 times and had many interesting discussions about what happened in Parkham past. One story that drew our attention was a rather sad tale of the story behind and unfortunate seaman whose body was washed up on Bucks beach in February 1852. The details of the incident were reported in the Illustrated London News of 21st February 1852 as follows:
Our thanks go to Mike O’Shea for some diligent searching to expand on the details of the event.
The loss of the ship was a national tragedy and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set up an appeal for the support of widows and orphans.
Superficially, this seems quite an interesting story but thinking about the facts raises many questions.
The ship set sail from Southampton on 1st February 1852 on a trip to the West Indies. It was the maiden voyage of RMS Amazon – a ship equipped with the then new steam engines and paddle wheels as well as a full set of sails. A disastrous fire broke out on Sunday 4th January 1852 which resulted in the total loss of the ship in the middle of the Bay of Biscay. Of the 162 passengers and crew aboard only 58 survived. Thus far nothing seems out of place. The next step on our time-line brings us closer to home. On 16th February 1852 the seaman’s body was washed ashore at Bucks; that is just 43 days later. If that journey had taken place for a message in a glass bottle most people would not have thought it possible. We have to assume that at that time of year the stormy weather of February must have hastened the events.
Still following the time-line, an inquest was held the following day. Although we do not know for certain, it might have been held at the Coach and Horses at Horns Cross as there was a shortage of suitable
meeting places near Bucks. Other inquests were known to have taken place at this Inn. The following day the body was interred in Parkham Church (yard?). This was very swift work and would not have occurred so quickly these days.
The body remained unidentified despite the fact that he was clearly an officer seaman (the gold braid on the cap and the silken jacket uniform). It seems strange that he had nothing to identify him on his person – such as a pocket watch or documents. Isn’t it strange that of all things his hat stayed on head after 43 days in the water and maybe some mayhem when the ship caught fire?
The” story” above is just one of the many interesting events we hope to encounter on our own voyage through the History of Parkham. We meet on the last Thursday of the month in The Bell Inn at Parkham at 10.30am and you would be welcome to join us- especially if you come bearing interesting stories or questions. BRG