East & Botolph Claydon

Claydon House, about seven miles South of the town of Buckingham, had four villages which grew up around it, owned by the Estate, and housing its workers and those traditional craftsmen whose skills were needed to support a farming community. Two of these are the village of East Claydon, and the hamlet of Botolph Claydon. The only church, dedicated to St Mary, dates from the 15 th century, and is in East Claydon. Nevertheless, until recent times, Botolph Claydon was always the larger settlement.
A clock tower, built in 1913, joins—or separates - the two parts. It has one face for each community. To the north side of the tower is East Claydon village school. On the south side of the tower is the Village Hall, which, when it was built by the Verney family, also housed a Public library, well-stocked with books at the family's expense.

In the curve of the Winslow Road in East Claydon is New Farm, which, in former times, was a coaching station. The old coaching track can still be walked as a public footpath.

In both villages a number of thatched cottages remains, though only one (in Botolph Claydon) is still unmodernised and owned by the Estate. The process of modernisation has included the joining together of two or three very small dwellings which were under the same roof, so that now one loses the awareness of the cramped conditions in which families had to live.

The original cottages often used to have a fireplace in the backyard for boiling kettles, and cooking in summer weather. Water, of course, came from the pump or from wells, and main drainage did not arrive until the 1960s.
Since the Second World War, the rapid increase in farm mechanisation, and the consequent decrease in numbers of farm workers, has caused the character of these villages to change. Almost all the houses are now privately owned, and are lived in by people who work elsewhere.
Nevertheless, within the memory of people now in their sixties, the farms were worked with horses, and it was a familiar sight to see one tethered to the railings outside the forge in Botolph Claydon or to see wagon- and cart-wheels awaiting repair outside the wheelwright's shop next door. The Wiggins Brothers carried on this joint enterprise. At the weir in Weir Lane (now an overgrown pond full of bullrushes) the hooves of the working horses were cleaned of the clinging clay from which the district gets its name.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission

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