Monument erected to Capt Cook in the grounds of The Vache house near Chalfont St Giles
The origins of the famous explorer Capt James Cook are in North Yorkshire. His link with the Chilterns is through his friend and naval colleague Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser, who erected a monument to him in the grounds of his house, The Vache, near Chalfont St Giles.
James Cook was one of the eighteenth century’s greatest explorers, voyaging through the Pacific and the Atlantic and charting islands and the coasts of New Zealand and Australia. On his third voyage he landed on a Hawaiian island and took the local king hostage. A brawl ensued, during which Cook was killed by a warrior.
Admiral Palliser revered Cook’s achievements: “He explored the southern hemisphere to a much higher latitude than had ever been reached”. Palliser erected the monument to him in his grounds at The Vache in 1781, two years after Cook’s death. It consists of a two storey brick and flint tower on a high mound. It houses a globe on a pedestal. The sides of the pedestal have an elaborate inscription dedicated to Cook’s memory.
The Vache is a courtyard house, with parts dating from the early 16th century. It was bought in the reign of Elizabeth I by the Fleetwood family. The best-known Fleetwood was Col George Fleetwood who inherited the house in 1628. He declared for Cromwell in the Civil War, signed Charles I’s death warrant and in the Restoration fled to America.
The Cook Monument at The Vache is on a well-marked permissive footpath which leads off Vache Lane. Follow the footpath for less than half a mile through woodland to reach the monument.
There is no public access to The Vache house. Its north front is visible from the monument.