Lady Wenman, who lived at Thame Park, near Thame, was so scared of being buried alive that she ordered her body to be placed in an open vault – and to be left unburied for a period of 50 years.
During her lifetime – and especially in her later years – she was the ‘lady bountiful’ of the area, championing good causes and being particularly benevolent to those who we would describe today as ‘socially disadvantaged’.
In Christmas 1863 her kindness to the poor amounted to 18 tons of coal, 1,200 lbs of prime beef, 880 yards of flannel and 36 woollen jerseys. She also showed her appreciation during the festive seasons to the members of the Thame Park Chapel choir.
Each year the choirman, his wife and two of their children were invited to supper at Thame Park. Before leaving, each choirman was given a joint of beef weighing up to 10 pounds in weight.
The wives were presented with a family-sized Christmas pudding, and the children had bags of sweets and fruit. Lady Wenman died in 1870 aged 80. No portrait of her seems to exist.
Her body was only buried properly in the 1980s at a service attended by local celebrities, Robin and Dwina Gibb.