Little Marlow

Little Marlow is a hamlet situated on the A4155, midway between Marlow and Bourne End, but its environs extend as far as Well End to the east and the by-pass to the west. Like many other areas along this stretch of the Thames it is steeped in history, being referred to in the Domesday Book.
The Manor House, built in the 16th century, stands in about 140 acres next to the church of St John the Baptist. These grounds were, in the 11th century, the property of Queen Edith. During the Second World War the Black Watch occupied the Manor House and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and General Eisenhower inspected the troops and took the salute.

In the 12th century a small Benedictine Nunnery was founded along by the river near Spade Oak Ferry. One of the smallest monastic houses in England, it was suppressed in 1536.

According to people with roots in the village it was once a thriving area, with a jam factory at Westhorpe making jam with fruit grown in large orchards around the Pump Lane area. It is reputed there was once a saw mill in the village and many of the present older houses were originally shops — a bakery, confectioner, butcher, forge and coach house. The slaughter house being where 'The Saltings' is now and the Pound opposite where animals awaited slaughter.
As with all villages it has its scandals. There is one which is well documented. In 1919 Mr George Bailey, a milkman living in Old Barn Cottage, poisoned his pregnant wife. He sent his small daughter to relatives and tried to make his getaway. A neighbour, curious there was no movement next door, climbed to a bedroom window and saw Mrs Bailey dead on the bed. Mr Bailey was arrested on Reading station with several types of poison on him. He was tried at Aylesbury and duly hanged at Oxford. The case made history by having the first woman juror on a murder case.

There is also talk of ghosts. Many motorists involved in accidents claim they were trying to avoid a figure in the road, although they always disappear. At first they were thought to be excuses or drink, but one W.I. member clearly saw an auburn haired woman wearing a turquoise long sleeved nightdress in her bedroom, holding a cup. She stood facing the window and appeared lost and unreal. She then turned and disappeared through the closed door. Perhaps there is a lost soul roaming the village! Others have also seen 'something'.
There is some industry in the village. Wilton Farm, a thriving market garden of 364 acres is owned and run by the Emmett family. The sewerage works, which drains all the surrounding areas, is operated by Thames Water Authority and Folley Brothers operate a gravel and ready-mix concrete business, which covers about 140 acres. None of these are really large employers and most of the workers come from outside the village.

Most village activity centres around the recreation field and its pavilion. The field was left in perpetuity to the people of the village by Mrs Bradish-Ellames, as a memorial to those who fell in the First World War.

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