Little Horwood

The village was known as Parva Herewode or Horwude in the 13th century, Parva Horwode in the 14th, Harwood Parva in the 17th, each name referring to the woods and the heavy clay soil in the area. When the field system was developed the Roman unit split into two parishes and Little Horwood became a village in its own right. It was not mentioned in the Domesday Book, being included in the Winslow manor which belonged to the Abbot of St Albans until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Little Horwood's church, St Nicholas, was built about 1200 added to over the centuries and restored in 1889 when a series of wall paintings was discovered under a crust of whitewash. The earliest date from the 13 th century.
The Second World War changed Little Horwood from a quiet rural community to one bustling with crowds of strangers for an airfield was made on land lying between the two Horwoods. It came into use on 3rd September 1942 and from it operated No 26 Operational Training Unit of Bomber Command flying mainly Vickers Armstrong Wellington twin-engined bombers, though many other types of aircraft came and went also. The constant din of aircraft flying low overhead became commonplace and crashes and the death of crews all too frequent. The army was camped at the Manor and prior to D Day, the village was seething with men and machines carrying out manoeuvres on a vast scale.

The airfield ceased operations on January 15 th 1946 and a sudden quiet must have settled again on Little Horwood. To-day the runways and ammunition sheds can still be seen over the fields but the only activity is the grazing of sheep and cattle and the only flights are made by birds.
Life went quietly on; too quietly perhaps. In 1968 some felt that the village was lacking in amenities and much needed improving. There were black spots and very little in the way of entertainment. The village was losing its spirit.
So a newsletter was produced and put through every door. It was a gamble. Deficiencies were pointed out and a scheme was suggested to raise money for the suggested alterations and improvements. The letter ended thus:-
'Because of *ts smallness, the village must pull together or nothing can be achieved. It can only do this if everyone contributes in some way to the maintenance and running of the village, and the people of the community will only do this if their interest is aroused.'

The gamble was successful. The people rallied round. The Little Horwood Social Amenities Association was born and the Entertainments Committee came into being so that all that was wrong has been put right and within the village there is now an active social life.

One of the first achievements of the Social Amenities Association was to buy the school, closed and up for sale. This now houses a flourishing Play Group, the Youth Club, as well as being the Cricket Pavilion and a venue for dances, bazaars, parties etc. The cricket field and playground behind and surrounding it is in the charge of a committee who have recently enlarged and improved the facilities. Sports for the children and pig roasts and a barn dance are some of the activities which take place here. The village hall is used for similar functions, for meetings and for the annual theatrical production staged by the W.I. Shrove Tuesday Pancake races and May Day Celebrations have also been revived by the W.I. and in October there is the Village Race, a cross country event, open to all ages, 2xh miles for the younger men, IVi miles for ladies, children and the not so young. The whole village turns out for this event either to run or just to watch. Several cups are presented and the Crown does a roaring trade. Boxing Day sees a race of a different kind when duck owners bring their birds, complete with knitted colours round their necks, to race in the brook. It is a crazy get-together which raises some money for the recreation ground. Racing of a more serious kind takes place in the spring when two point-to-point meetings are held on Manor Farm land if the weather is not too wet and the clay soil from which the village derives its name does not become waterlogged.

The money raising scheme first suggested in 1968 has continued to this day; weekly payments for those wishing to participate, a weekly draw to determine the winner of the week, and the profits managed by the Trust which allocates money to those organisations in need of it for improvements etc. Quarterly, the Little Horwood News is published, giving news of events, reports of functions, welcoming newcomers and frequently producing items of historical interest.
For the future, though people come and go, it is hoped that the community spirit which makes this village such a good one to live in, will continue.

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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