Swandering Around Buckingham

Hi guys, sorry for the delay, I was having technical difficulties. My post today shall be dedicated to my new home, Buckingham.

Buckingham is a small town in the county of Buckinghamshire, England and has a symbol, the swan. So today I’m going to talk about the swan and why it is the symbol of Buckinghamshire.

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First of all, what exactly is a swan? Well swans are birds that are part of the family Anatidae within the genus Cygnus. They are close relatives of ducks and geese, though I’m sure you knew that bit.

There are seven species of swan. They are:

  • The mute swan (as pictured above). The mute swan is the only native species to Great Britain.
  • The black swan (not to be confused with a melanistic swan, by which I mean a swan that has over abundance of melanin in its skin and is the opposite of being albino).
  • The whooper swan
  • The trumpeter swan
  • The tundra swan
  • The black-necked swan
  • The coscoroba swan, however this species is no longer considered as one of the true swans, but I’ve chosen to mention it anyway

Swans are the largest members of the waterfowl family Anatidae and rank amongst the largest flying birds, with the largest species (the mute, whooper and trumpeter) reaching a length of over 1.5 m (59 in), weight of over 15 kg (33 ib) and a wingspan that can reach to over 3.1 m (10 ft).

Swans can be found everywhere except Asia, Central America, Northern South America, the entirety of Africa and Antarctica. This is probably why they are so well known. Swans, like other waterfowl and many other species of bird, migrate regularly for various reasons such as mating and climate. Their diet comprises of aquatic plants, algae, molluscs, small fish, frogs and worms.

Swans are often used as symbols of romance and weddings, and for good reason. Swans usually mate for life, but like humans, do occasionally ‘divorce’ following a nesting failure.

Why is the swan the symbol of Buckingham?

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The swan is not only the emblem of Buckingham, but also the emblem of the county of Buckinghamshire. This is possibly for multiple reasons an example being how in Anglo-Saxon times, Buckinghamshire was known for breeding swans for the King’s banquet table (swans were seen as a royal delicacy).

Another possible reason is actually a pun and an ancient myth. Henry II appointed Henry of Essex to be the sheriff of Buckingham. One of his ancestors had been known as Sweyn, a name close enough to ‘swan’ to be used as a pun (a very common practice to those times and today, as is shown through my consistent use of horrible puns). The swan emblem was passed down through the Mandeville family from Henry of Essex to Eleanor De Bohun, whose family also claimed descent from the mythical French Knight of the Swan (each of his children was supposedly born a swan with a silver chain round their necks). Eleanor married Thomas (youngest son of Edward III) who was made the first Duke of Buckingham, thus creating another link to the swan and Buckingham.

To conclude, the swan and Buckinghamshire have been intertwined with one another for centuries and everywhere in Buckinghamshire, swans can be seen on buildings and in sports clubs.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to comment.

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