Notes on Little Brickhill


Description of Little Brickhill from J. J. Sheahan, 1861

Little Brickhill or Brickhill Prava parish contains 1,360 acres, and 483 inhabitants. Its rateable value is £1,629. The soil, like that of the adjacent Brickhills, is a reddish sand, intermixed with and based on clay. Lipscomb thinks that the place acquired the distinctive appellation of “Little” from the comparative small extent of the lands in the parish, rather than the size of the village, “which”, he says, “although it was, during many ages, the place for holding of County Assizes, has no indications of having at any time, been larger than at present.” According to Browne Willis the number of houses in the parish in 1758 was 69; their number in 1801, as returned by Parliament, was 84; and in 1851 there are 111 houses here, of which 10 were uninhabited.

The village, which is pleasantly situated on a commanding eminence, is distant 2 miles S.E. from Fenny Stratford, 3 S.W. from Woburn, and 6 N. from Leighton Buzzard. It lies on the old roman road, Watling Street, which coincides with the road from this place to Stony Stratford. The place consists of one long street in which are several houses in a ruinous condition. The prospects are vast and beautiful. Before the introduction of the railways between 30 and 40 coaches, and a number of wagons, passed daily through this village.

The assize and general goal delivery for Bucks were held here at different times between 1443 and 1638, according to Willis; “being taken as the first town in the Norfolk Circuit” says Lipscomb, “probably for the convenience of the Judges.” During the reigns of Elizabeth and James, Little Brickhill seems to have been considered as the assize town, and is so marked in Saxton’s Map, published in 1574. The last court of the assize was held here was in 1638. Between the year 1561 and 1620, the names of forty-two executed criminals appear among the burials in the parish register. On the 26th March 1595, no less than ten persons were executed and buried here. The gallows is said to have stood on the heath or common, according to Lysons,’ about three furlongs out of the village on the road to Woburn. Elections, as well as other meetings for the county were also convened here.

There was formerly a weekly market here, on Thursdays, which seems to have been granted to John de Gatesden, in 1228. It was confirmed in 1257 to Philip Lovel; in 1284 to Hugh de Audley; and in 1441, to Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Buckingham. The charter of 1228 grant a fair for three days, at the festival of St Giles; that is 1284, a fair at the decollation of St John the Baptist; and that of 1441, two fairs, viz., on the feast of SS Philip and James, and on that of St Luke. The last-mentioned fairs are held still, on the 12th of May and the 29th of October. The market has long since been discontinued. The making of straw plat affords employment to many of the females.

The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and Messrs. John Miles, and Edward Ashwell have estates here.

The living is a Perpetual Curacy, valued in the King’s Books at £9, and now worth about £120 per annum. The patronage is vested in the Bishop of Oxford, and the Vicar is the Rev. Thomas Pym Williamson. The Archbishop of Canterbury was formerly a patron. In 1796, under an Inclosure Act, about 600 acres of land were allotted and divided between the Lord of the Manor and the See of Canterbury, in right of the impropriate tithes.   


Little Brickhill Parish (Pop. 614)

Four Daily Schools.

One of which contains 8 males, supported by an endowment.

Another, 14 females, supported by Lady Rose; this also open on Sundays.

In the other two are 25 males and 8 females, whose instruction is paid for by their parents.

One Boarding School, in which 5 males are educated at the expense of their parents.

Two Sunday Schools, in one are 32 males and 30 females, who attend the Established Church

The other is attached to Wesleyan Methodists (commenced 1830), and consists of 21 males and 12 females, both supported by voluntary contributions.