Slapton

Within living memory Slapton was a self contained village with three farms, a brickyard, church and chapel, school, shop, mill, a blacksmith, cobbler, baker and brewer. The rector lived in a gracious house set in large grounds.

Today the village is luckier than most as it still has a post office stores, a school for the younger children, a pub and a church. The farms remain too, but the Maltings are used by the publican as a store.

The church remains steadfast, standing every spring-time in a sea of cowslips watching over the community as it has done since 1223. The name of Turney is a village name to this day and many of the gravestones, lichened and leaning, carry the surnames of today's villagers, reflecting the continuity of village life, despite the much talked about influx of townies and commuters.

Most of the inhabitants are commuters these days as there is very little work within the village boundaries. So the village is a quiet place during the day as people go far afield to earn their living, many travelling to London from nearby Cheddington station. However, despite the daily exodus, the village is a thriving place with organisations catering for all age groups.

Rising crime rate in rural areas was responsible for the formation of a Village Watch Scheme which has now become Neighbourhood Watch now that these schemes are official in the county. This has increased our community spirit making us all more aware of one another. 1986 marked our first entry into the Best Kept Village competition.

The village administers its own charity which has been in existence for 400 years and is named after Sir Thomas Knyghton, a former Rector of Holy Cross Church. The charity books record the giving of shoes, petticoats, wood for the fire, tools to learn a trade, weekly sick benefits, money for learning to sing the psalms, and — ultimately — a coffin to the poor and needy. There is not such obvious poverty today but the Trustees continue the caring work mindful of the example set by their predecessors.

There are ghosts of course, what village would be complete without them? An old lady, dressed in black and carrying a basket wanders along the route of a defunct footpath; the moonlight glints on the buckles of a Rector's shoes, all that can be seen of him as he rushes to an ancient affray; a young girl runs in one direction and her horse gallops in another as they search endlessly for one another and in one of the old cottages children cry.

The Northamptonshire Mercury records the trial of a witch on July 2nd 1770. She was to have been tried by water ordeal and weighing against the Bible at the mill in Slapton but the miller declined to carry out the trial before so many spectators, but promised to do it later in private.


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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