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Cook Monument at The Vache, Chalfont St. Giles - A Brief History


Following the Conquest in 1066, a Norman Nobleman, La Vache, selected a gentle slope a mile north of this village in Buckinghamshire as the site for his Manor House. Though altered and rebuilt by numerous successive owners, the house remains "The Vache" to this day.

During the Commonwealth, Thomas Fleetwood, Treasurer of the Mint, lived at "The Vache" with two wives and eighteen children. Fleetwood was one who signed the Execution Warrant of Charles 1. After the Restoration Charles 11 declared Fleetwood's estates forfeit.

In 1771 the Vache was purchased by Sir Hugh Palliser whose memorial stands in the 12th century Norman Church of Chalfont St. Giles.

Palliser had many distinctions, having been a Member of Parliament, Comptroller of the Navy, Lieutenant- General of Marines, Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, Governor of Newfoundland, Admiral of the White and an Elder Brother of Trinity House. But he is better remembered today as the man who picked out Cook for high command.

"The Vache" is now the property of the National Coal Board, and is used as a training college.

Palliser must have been grief-stricken when he learned of the death of the Cook. Atop the rise, some 300 yards distant from "The Vache", Palliser erected a memorial to his friend. Here he built what appears a miniature Norman castle, or keep. It is of red brick with bands of granite chips. It stands about 20 feet square; in the centre is a four-sided memorial tablet. The inscription reads:


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On the front
To the memory of Captain James Cook
The ablest and most renowned Navigator this or any country hath produced.
He raised himself solely by his merit from a very obscure birth to the rank of Post Captain in the royal navy and was unfortunately killed by the Savages of the island Owhyhee on the 14th of February 1779 which island he had not long before discovered when prosecuting his third voyage round the globe.
He possessed in an eminent degree all the qualifications requisite for his profession and great undertakings together with the amiable and worthy qualities of the best men. Cool and deliberate in judging, sagacious in determining, active in executing, steady and persevering in enterprising from vigilance and unremitting caution, unsubdued by labour, difficulties, and disappointments, fertile in expedience never wanting presence of mind: always possessing himself and the full use of a sound understanding.

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On the side
Mild, just, but exact in discipline he was a father to his people who were attached to him from affection and obedient from confidence.
He explored the Southern Hemisphere to a much higher latitude than had ever been reached, and with fewer accidents than frequently befall those who navigate the coasts of this island.
By his benevolent and unabating attention to the welfare of his ship's company, he discovered and introduced a system for the preservation of the health of seamen in long voyages, which has proved wonderfully efficacious for in his second voyage round the world, which continued upwards of three years, he lost only one man by distemper of one hundred and eighteen of which his company consisted. The object of his last mission was to discover and ascertain the boundaries of Asia and America, and to penetrate into the Northern Ocean by the North East Cape of Asia.
Traveller contemplate admire revere and emulate this great master in his profession, whose skill and labours have enlarged natural philosophy have extended nautical science and have disclosed the long

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On the back
concealed and admirable arrangements of the Almighty in the formation of this globe, and at the same time the arrogance of mortals, in presuming to account by their speculations for the laws by which he was pleased to create it. It is now discovered beyond all doubt that the same Great Being who created the universe by his fiat, by the same ordained our earth to keep a just poise without a corresponding Southern continent and it does so! He stretcheth out the North over the empty place and hangeth the earth upon nothing. Job XXVI7
If the arduous but exact researches of this extraordinary man have not discovered a new world they have discovered seas unnavigated and unknown before. They have made us acquainted with islands, people and productions of which we had no conception. And if he has not been so fortunate as Americus to give his name to a continent his pretensions to such a distinction remain unrivalled and he will be revered while there remains a page of his own modest account of his voyages and as long as mariners and geographers shall be

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On the side
instructed, by his new map of the Southern hemisphere to trace the various courses and discoveries he has made. If public services merit public acknowledgements, if the man who adorned and raised the fame of his country is deserving of honours, then Captain COOK deserves to have a monument raised to his memory by a generous and grateful nation.
Virtutis uberrrimum alimentum est honos VAL. MAXIMUS. Lib 2. Cap 6.


(This eulogy was written by Admiral the Hon. John Forbes.)

James Dunkley

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 634, volume 12, number 1 (1989).

Photographs by Ian Boreham. Not published in Cook's Log.

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Brian, thank you for your additional information.
The above article was originally published nearly thirty years ago, in 1989.
I will see if it is possible to add a footnote which will bring the statement about the NCB up to date.
By Cliff Thornton on 10/1/2017 9:03:24 PM Like:1 DisLike:0
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Great website. Thanks.
Just for accuracy - The pages regarding The Vache at Chalfont St.Giles state that The Vache is owned by The National Coal Board. As stated, The NCB did use the property as a Training Centre from 1955, but that NCB ceased to exist as a legal entity in 1987 and I believe the property was sold back into private hands about 1991.
By Brian Lindley on 9/30/2017 10:31:39 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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My sister and I lived at the Vache from 1950-1954.Our dad was the head gardener to Mrs.Dawson.We spent most of the summers playing at the monument. Although the Vache was once owned by the coal board, I believe the area is now private housing
Captain Cooks Monument-The Vache
By Malcolm on 3/1/2013 4:05:42 AM Like:0 DisLike:0

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