Hanslope

Hanslope is situated in the north of the county bordering Northamptonshire on three sides. It is sandwiched between the Ml motorway and the main line railway from London to Scotland. The Grand Union Canal is just outside the parish.
The church is a noted landmark having one of the finest steeples in Bucks. Built in 1250 on a high ridge, it is said that seven surrounding counties can be seen from the battlements.
The beautiful octagonal spire of Ketton Stone is 186 feet high, although the original was some 205 feet. This was destroyed by lightning in 1804. The weathervane on top is a model of a whippet type dog with an arrow through its paw. It was given to the village by a member of the Watts family, formerly squires of the Manor, whose life was saved by such a dog while serving in India.

Buried in the churchyard is a prize fighter named Alexander McKay, a native of Glasgow who died in 1830 aged 26 years after fighting Simon Bryne in Salcey Forest. These fights were illegal and when McKay was knocked unconscious he was carried to the Watts Arms in the village where he later died. Bryne was arrested at Liverpool three days later when he boarded a boat bound for Ireland. He was tried for murder at Buckingham but was acquitted and died some years later after another fight.
Although the vicar objected, a stone was erected on his grave under cover of darkness bearing the following epitaph:-

Strong and athletic was my frame,
Far from my native home I came,
And bravely fought with Simon Bryne
Alas but never to return.
Stranger take warning from my fate
Lest you should rue your case too late
If you have ever fought before
Determine now to fight no more.


A member of the great clock-making family Joseph Knibbs came to live at Hanslope in the late 17th century. He began clock making in Oxford where he worked with his brother John for many years. He then started a business in London and later moved to Hanslope where he continued making clocks, some of which are to be seen in the British Museum.

On 21st July 1912 the squire of the parish Edward Hanslope Watts was shot by his gamekeeper William Farrow as he returned home from church with his wife. The gamekeeper then turned the gun on himself. The Watts family had the road diverted and to this day the entrance to Hanslope Park, now owned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and used as a communications centre, is set at an angle and the spot where the murder took place is fenced off.

Hanslope was the centre of the lace making industry in the 19th century. As many as 500 women and children were employed in this trade, working long hours often by candlelight in order to produce lace for the buyer who called weekly and paid them about 6 pence a yard.

Most of the men worked on the land until the coming of the railways when many found employment at Wolverton Works five miles away.
With the development of the new city of Milton Keynes the population of Hanslope has doubled in recent years and a survey shows that many residents travel long distances to their employment, some journeying the 50 miles to London daily.

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