Lillingstone Lovell

Lillingstone Lovell is one of the most ancient and unspoilt villages in Buckinghamshire. At the time of the Domesday Book it was known as Lillingestane, and about 1431 it became the property of the Baronial family of Lovell, since when it has been called by their name.
Perhaps it was the plentiful supply of water from the brook and the spring that enabled the early farmers to settle here on the edge of the great Whittlewood Forest that covered the area in early times. To this day farming is the main livelihood of the local people.

The beautiful old village church, which has been the centre of the village life through the ages, is the third church to be built on the present site. No trace remains of the original building. Of the second church built in 1210, the tower and porch arch remain and are incorporated in the present building. The monuments and hatchments within recall the history and generosity of the local notables.
In 1546 the. Manor was given by the king to Sir Nicholas Wentworth and remained in the possession of this family until 1784.

The most famous member of this family was Sir Peter Wentworth, member of the House of Commons for Tamworth. He bore a conspicuous part in the attempt to resist Cromwell's encroachment upon the rights of Parliament. From the interest on money he left the parish, stem the Wentworth Charities.

The family lived in a mansion, built in the reign of Henry VIII, that stood behind the present Hall Farm. The last of the Went-worths bequeathed the estate to a relative. Shortly after his succession the Manor House was demolished, and the beautiful avenue of trees cut down. The foundations of the old house can still be seen in dry weather.

In 1836 the estate was bought by a member of the Delap family. Major James Bogle Delap and friends carried out an extensive restoration of the church in 1891.
The village has altered very little in appearance in the last 120 years. It is in a conservation area, and housing development is not permitted except for one or two dwellings built for agricultural workers.

The Church of England school was built in 1850, and the porch added in 1905. It remained as a school until 1916 when the children were moved to Lillingstone Dayrell school. An old log book, kept by the mistress, shows that the making of bobbin lace featured largely on the girls' curriculum. Lace making was a cottage industry for women, whilst the men worked on the land.

An event in 1923 changed the outlook and status of the village. The Manor and village farms came on the market when the estate was broken up. Some tenants bought their farms, and some people bought their houses. There was no longer a squire to rule the village and require the children to attend church and Sunday school — whether they would or no!

In a way this event brought a certain stability to the village. At the present time, some farms have been in the same family for three generations.
In the 1930s the village ghost appeared at the house of two old ladies up at Briary. People came from Northampton to see the lady on a white horse, but the ghost was exorcised once and for all when it was disclosed that the image was caused by trick photography!

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