Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust

The old market
cross at Aylesbury
before its

  • The Royal Bucks King's Own Militia at Wycombe Abbey

The presentation of new colours to the Royal Bucks King's Own Militia at Wycombe Abbey in 1855.

The Royal Bucks King's Own Militia was an important social and political institution within the county. Officers were usually drawn from the gentry and until 1869 had to fulfil a property qualification to hold a commission.

The first Marquess of Buckingham built a headquarters for the militia in Buckingham in 1802 and command of the militia was seen as part of the domination of the county by the Grenville family of Stowe, of which the Marquess was head. When the first Duke of Buckingham and Chandos died in 1839, the new Lord Lieutenant, the second Lord Carrington, immediately moved the militia headquarters to his own seat at Wycombe Abbey, symbolising the change of power within the county.

When Carrington died in 1868, the third Duke of Buckingham tried to move the headquarters back to Buckingham – but it remained at High Wycombe until the militia's abolition in 1908. Indeed the third Lord Carrington commanded the regiment from 1881 to 1885 and again from 1890 to 1897.

After 1852 the militia was raised purely by voluntary means, its members undertaking a continuous period of 28 days' training each summer. In wartime, however, the militia could be embodied for permanent service as during the Crimean War of 1854-1856, when the Royal Bucks served in various garrisons, and during the South African War of 1899-1902, when it served in Ireland.

Militia commitment did not suit those in regular employment and most militiamen were labourers, although some chairmakers enlisted and some recruits came from the Chesham boot and shoe trade. The militia was always equipped and provisioned through local tradesmen and, during the annual training at High Wycombe, militiamen spent freely in the town. The adjutant, permanent staff and band had a constant presence at civic events.

Under military reforms in 1881, which created county regiments, the Royal Bucks King's Own Militia was officially renamed the Third Battalion Oxfordshire Light Infantry, but it clung to its Bucks title. The War Office appeared ready to move the regiment's headquarters to Oxford unless new facilities were provided at High Wycombe. A county fund was launched to build new barracks on land gifted by Carrington on Loakes Hill with new buildings constructed by the firm of Charles Hunt, later Wycombe's mayor in 1892-93.

The militia was abolished in 1908, but opposition to the disappearance of the ‘real’ county regiment led to the renaming of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. The barracks were leased to the Wycombe Detachment of the Bucks Battalion and used for the County Territorial Association's stores, then by recruits for Kitchener's ‘New Armies’ in 1914 and thereafter by the Royal Artillery.

The barracks were left vacant in March 1919, and parts were unilaterally occupied by ex-servicemen in September 1920. The foundation stone for the War Memorial Hospital was laid in March 1922 and a new 50-year lease in 1926 covered the barracks, the former militia hospital, other huts and store rooms on the barrack square and a small drill hall. The permanent instructor's cottage was used by the Home Guard in the Second World War.

In the end most of the barracks were demolished to make way for the extension of the War Memorial Hospital. A length of wall and part of a barrack block remain in Barrack Road.


  • Who we are:
  • The Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust preserves the heritage of the local military units raised in the historic county of Buckinghamshire from the 1500s onwards, including the Militia, Yeomanry, Volunteers, Territorials and Home Guard.
  • Our base is the Old Gaol Museum in Buckingham.
  • Our activities:
  • The Trust's military history of Buckinghamshire is being published chapter by chapter on our website under the Online Resources page.
  • Following our successful 2021 autumn series of virtual talks on ‘Secret Buckinghamshire in the Second World War, we hope to arrange a new series. For details see our website.
  • Opening times and enquiries:
  • The Old Gaol Museum is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 4pm..
  • For all enquiries about the Trust, please email ian.beckett@bmmt.co.uk.
: Officers of the Royal Bucks King's Own Militia in the Orangery at Wycombe Abbey in 1852;
Right: NCOs from the Militia's Permanent Staff at Wycombe Abbey, 1852.

Thanks to Ian Beckett of the Bucks Military Museum Trust for providing content for this page.