Memories of North Crawley

The population of the village is now just under five hundred with twenty-six children in the school. In 1895 there were one hundred and twenty children in the school, with three families of twelve children each.
Children were allowed to leave at eleven if they had a 'Dunce's Certificate'. The school had galleried seating with long desks.
In 1895 the migration from farm working started and men went to the Railway Works at Wolverton.
Crawley Grange employed a number of village folk, and had a coachman and groom with cockades in their hats. Their first car was a yellow Packard in 1904.
It is a debatable point where the villagers were buried as the churchyard does not have any very old graves, or very few. It is thought that old graves are under the square in front of the church, known as the Waste Ground, and indeed human remains have been found when digging. This square was used as a pound for men driving cattle or sheep to and from markets.

Crawley Feast was held on the Waste Ground on the Monday nearest 12 October. Fair men paid their dues to be there two days, and when one year they failed to pay the dues the Fair discontinued. Lovely pink spiced pears were sold for a halfpenny each. They were baked locally and carried to the Fair in big earthenware dishes. On the Monday evening a dance was organised to raise funds for the Sewing Girls' Picnic.

There were three bakehouses in the village, showing that bread formed an important part of the daily food. There were four public houses and a beerhouse which was a tavern where the men could lodge over night when driving animals. A butcher came every Saturday and there was a butcher's shop. There were three brickfields and there are still cottages standing built from their beautiful red rosy bricks. Some were said to be built from the discards, but are still beautiful.

On Whit Monday the village band went to Crawley Grange to fetch Dr Boswell, marched up the village street to fetch the rector and then to church, subsequently playing for country dancing for the Women's Club.
In 1881 a census was taken and showed nine hundred and ninety nine inhabitants. The thousandth was the rector who was courting in a neighbouring village!
Laundry was taken from Crawley Grange to Newport Pagnell in a horse-brake drawn by a roan mare. If there was room, passengers were taken at the cost of 2d. On Wednesdays and Saturdays if the villagers walked three miles to Cranfield, they could get a horse brake to Bedford for one shilling. For special occasions to meet visitors a horse and cart could be hired for half-a-crown.
Butter was a luxury because of the shortage of winter feed.

Mrs Maslin herself went to the Wolverton Centre as a pupil teacher. She walked four miles to Newport Pagnell Station to catch the local train, known as 'Nobby Newport', to Wolverton. At the end of the day she returned by train to Newport Pagnell and then walked four miles home. This was in 1904.

Henrietta Maslin (born 1890), North Crawley


Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes