Green Man of Fingest

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Green Man of Fingest
    English Fairy and Other Folk Tales by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890]

    HENRY BURGWASH, who became Bishop of Lincoln on the 28th of May 1320, is chiefly memorable on account of a curious ghost story recorded of him in connection with the manor of Fingest, in Bucks. Until the year 1845, Buckinghamshire was in the diocese of Lincoln, and formerly the bishops of that see possessed considerable estates and two places of residence in the county. They had the palace of Wooburn, near Marlow, and a manorial residence at Fingest, a small secluded village near Wycomb. Their manor-house of Fingest, the ruins of which still exist, stood near the church, and was but a plain mansion, of no great size or pretensions. And why those princely prelates, who possessed three or four baronial palaces, and scores of manor-houses superior to this, chose so often to reside here, is unknown. Perhaps it was on account of its sheltered situation, or from its suitableness for meditation, or because the surrounding country was thickly wooded and well stocked with deer; for in the "merrie days of Old England," bishops thought no harm in heading a hunting party. Be this as it may, certain it is that many of the early prelates of Lincoln, although their palace of Wooburn was near at hand, often preferred to reside at their humble manor-house of Fingest. One of these was Henry Burgwash, who has left reminiscences of his residence here more amusing to posterity than creditable to himself. "He was," says Fuller, "neither good for church nor state, sovereign nor subjects; but was covetous, ambitious, rebellious, injurious. Yet he was twice lord treasurer, once chancellor, and once sent ambassador to Bavaria. He died A.D. 1340. Such as wish to be merry," continues Fuller, "may read the pleasant story of his apparition being condemned after death to be viridis viridarius–a green forester." In his Church History, Fuller gives this pleasant story: "This Burgwash was he who, by mere might, against all right and reason, took in the common land of many poor people (without making the least reparation), therewith to complete his park at Tinghurst (Fingest). These wronged persons, though seeing their own bread, beef; and mutton turned into the bishop’s venison, durst not contest with him who was Chancellor of England, though he had neither law nor equity in his proceeding." He persisted in this cruel act of injustice even to the day of his death; but having brought on himself the hatred and maledictions of the poor, he could not rest quietly in his grave; for his spirit was doomed to wander about that land which he had, while living, so unjustly appropriated to himself. It so happened, however, as we are gravely informed by his biographer, that on a certain night he appeared to one of his former familiar friends, apparelled like a forester, all in green, with a bow and quiver, and a bugle-horn hanging by his side. To this gentleman he made known his miserable case. He said, that on account of the injuries he had done the poor while living, he was now Compelled to be the park-keeper of that place which he had so wrongfully enclosed. He therefore entreated his friend to repair to the canons of Lincoln, and in his name to request them to have the bishop’s park reduced to its former extent, and to restore to the poor the land which he had taken from them. His friend duly carried his message to the canons, who, with equal readiness, complied with their dead bishop’s ghostly request, and deputed one of their prebendaries, William Bacheler, to see the restoration properly effected. The bishop’s park was reduced, and the common restored to its former dimensions; and the ghostly park-keeper was no more seen.