Stoke Hammond

Situated on the main A4146 road between Bletchley and Leighton Buzzard, the road through the village has a constant stream of traffic. Fast-moving cars and heavy articulated lorries thunder through this once sleepy thoroughfare, so much so that a new bypass is scheduled for 1989, when hopefully peace will reign once more in this attractive village.
The village has seen several colourful characters in its time, one being a strange parson. He lived alone in the rambling old rectory adjoining the churchyard, and preferred liquid refreshment to solid. His favourite tipple was whiskey. Villagers would see him walking up the road from the Dolphin Inn carrying an American cloth bag containing a bottle or two! As might be expected, he 'saw', and 'heard', many unusual things. Close to the church the main railway line ran in a cutting, and the reverend gentleman was convinced that engine drivers sent him coded messages on their whistles. The old rectory is said to be haunted, so perhaps this is why he took to the bottle!

Another colourful character was a landlord of the Dolphin Inn. In the days when most householders kept a few backyard hens, a spate of thefts took place. The landlord perpetuated a rumour that certain village boys were probably responsible for the crime. However, he himself was caught in the act of stealing poultry from the owner of Stoke Lodge, who clonked him on the head with a spanner, thus making the thief easily identifiable. Several days later the said landlord was found hanging by his neck from a beam in the loft of the old stables.

The Anglican church was built in the 12th century. It stands on the highest ground in the village, its east window overlooking Great Brickhill. Around the old stone walls the dead of many generations of villagers peacefully lie. An avenue of trees leading to the heavy oak door has recently been replaced with young trees. Perhaps in years to come their branches will meet overhead as the old ones did. Unfortunately there is now no-one to ring the bells. Many years ago an old blind man rang all three. By pulling the ropes with his hands, and with the other attached by a loop to his foot, he managed to call the villagers to worship.

At one time, farming, consisting of dairy herds, sheep, pigs, and poultry, was a main source of employment. Now the land has been sold off into large or small units. Arable, grass-land, and riding horses, are now considered to be more economical ways to farm. And in the days of steam trains, the railway employed a number of men. Young women mostly went into service, or were apprenticed to dressmaking. Today, residents work in a wide variety of occupations, travelling by car to local towns, and to the new city of Milton Keynes.

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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