The following information is based on a local newspaper article written by local historian Ed Grimsdale, the original article is no longer available online.
Buckingham has a rich history and while much of its past is familiar to residents, one story you might not know is that of an elephant and some big leather boots!
This story starts with Bostock and Wombwell’s Circus arriving in Buckingham in the early 1900s. They were a regular attraction to Buckingham bringing along performing animals. Jerome Tronson, an employee of the circus, would arrive in town weeks before the circus accompanied by his ticket man, Arthur to ensure that everything was ready for when it arrived.
Shortly after they came to Buckingham in 1915, they set up in Buckingham’s Whale Pub (now Binns Smokehouse) and Arthur set up signs outside the town hall, and was selling lots of tickets.
The Whale was a great location for the men to set up their pitches because they were opposite Marshall and Herring, some extraordinary saddlers! The reason the saddlers were so important to the circus was that they made leather boots for the elephant’s feet to ensure they didn’t get hurt or infected whilst hauling the circus equipment on long journeys between towns. Fast forward to today and this site is now Buckingham Tea Rooms.
Unfortunately, even after a good start securing residents to come to the circus, the men’s luck began to run out. Jerome sadly fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) resulting in him passing away in his sleep. Arthur had noticed him having a very bad and persistent cough before he died, a sign of the disease.
With little time left before the circus was due to arrive, one of the four elephants that were coming needed new shoes. However, because Jerome was so unwell before he died, he forgot to order new ones. The elephant had to continue its journey without new shoes, and eventually had to be put down.
What happened after? Well, Jerome Tronson’s boss Mr Bostock had him buried on the eastern side of Brackley Road cemetery in Buckingham. You might have spotted the elaborate headstone which names Bostock and Wombwell circus. As for the elephant, Mr Grimsdale tell us that legend has it that the elephant’s ghost still wanders around Buckingham’s bull-ring.