Notes on Newton Blossonville


Newton Blossomville - Description from J.J. Sheahan, 1861

Area, 1,050 acres; population, 332; rateable value, £766. The place is situated on the river Ouse, and on the borders of Bedfordshire. The soil is clay and gravel, with a limestone bottom. The village is a small one, and is seated in a hollow, skirting the road from Bedford to Olney, about 2.5 miles E. from the latter town, and 6.5 miles N.E. from Newport Pagnell. The women make lace.

Newton Park where formerly stood the mansion of the Mordaunts, is now a farm. Portions of the walls of the park remain, and a modern brick farm-house occupies the site of the ancient manor-house. Opposite the churchyard are three very large elm trees growing on a tumulus or mound.

The Rectory House, situated about 100 yards south of the church is a good plain structure of stone, built, apparently at different periods. Extensive garden grounds surround it.

In 1822, the Rev. Joseph Gould, Curate of the parish built a Sunday School at his own expense. The building has since been enlarged and it is now likewise used as the parish school for boys and girls. A small library is kept in the school for the use of the villagers. There are about three acres of "Church Land;" and about two acres of land have been left by an unknown donor for the use of the parish clerk.


Newton-Blossomville Parish (Pop. 237)

One Sunday School, consisting of 9 males and 18 females, supported by subscription.


North Crawley


A country lane, an old thatched cot,
Fields, woods and garden plots:
Those lovely elms and chestnuts grand,
And oaks - the finest in the land.

The church so grand with lovely steeple
That is so grand to many people.
The chapel, too, is rather nice,
Where every Sunday folk rejoice.

You'll find the Grange and Rectory there,
Whose architecture is quite rare —
There built among those lovely trees
In spacious parks so nice and green.

Also the pubs, they number three —
The Chequers, Castle, Cock they be -
Where after each day's work is done,
Man has a drink he thinks he's won.

Town Land, too, is also there,
Where lots of people toil and swear.
But of the crops I know are grown
Are among the finest ever known.

So hasten the day when I will be
Back to that village o'er the sea.
Returning home, my duty done,
To a better England we have won.

This poem was written by a North Crawley soldier serving in Burma in the Second World War.
There is a little difference in the village since those days. The Castle Inn is now a residence and the Congregational Chapel as well, although it is pleasing to see that the sign on the front gable, Congregational Chapel 1821, has been left.
Town Land is also still there as an allotment, but before the war there was a waiting list for plots on this allotment, now only about twelve are worked, the remainder have been taken over by a market gardener.

The old thatched cottages, or rather most of them, are still there, and still look nice and tidy, several of them being re-thatched recently.

Those lovely elms, of course, have gone, victims of the Dutch Elm Disease, but the chestnuts have grown into lovely trees, and in the spring when in flower look really beautiful. Lots of new trees have been planted, but, of course, they will be for a future generation to see and admire.

The church, at one time, apparently, did have a steeple, but it became unsafe so was taken down. It is of course the oldest building in the village, dating back to the 11th century.

The Crawley Grange, sad to say, has been vacated by 'The Squire'. It is still there, but has been divided into four separate residences.

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


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


North Crawley - Description from J.J. Sheahan, 1861.

The parish of North Crawley extends over an area of 4,060 acres, of the rateable value of £3,411. The population in 1851 numbered 914 persons. The soil is chiefly clay; subsoil galt. The land is mostly arable, and there is but little wood. The village is large and scattered, and lies upon a lofty ridge of land conspicuous from a great didtance. It stands about 3 miles E.N.E. from Newport Pagnell, and 6 miles S.S.E. from Olney.

The Manor House, situated at East End, about 1.25 mile from the church, is an ancient gabled edifice of stone, surrounded by a moat, which is always full of water. The outer walls of the building are of solid masonry, 2.5 feet in thickness, and the site of the house, etc., which is within the fosse, is about 1 acre in extent. The manor-house is at present in the occupation of Mr William Wilmer, farmer. There is like-wise another moated farm-house in the parish; and at Up End there appears to have one stood a mansion, as the moat which enclosed it, and the fish-ponds which belonged to it may be distinctly traced; but no remains of buildings are to be seen.

The Living is a Rectory, in the gift of William Selby Lowndes, Esq., and the present Rector is the Rev. Charles William Selby Lowndes. In the Liber Regis the Rectory is valued at £27 10s., and in the Clergy List it is stated to be worth £914 per annum. The tithes were commuted for land at the inclosure of the parish in 1772.

The Rectory House, built in 1800, is a fine building delightfully situated in pleasant grounds which command most extensive prospects.

The dissenting bodies of Baptists and Independents have each a Chapel here of red brick. The National School stands at the S.W. corner of the churchyard, and was erected in 1845, chiefly at the cost of the late Rector, and T.A. Boswell Esq., then of the Grange.


North Crawley Parish (Pop. 791)

Four Daily Schools,
three of which contain about 24 children of both sexes;
the other, 12 males, all under instruction at the expense of their parents.
Two Sunday Schools, one consists of 86 children, chiefly supported
by the Rector, who also furnishes the School with books;

the other (commenced 1820), is attached to Independent Dissenters, and contains 122 children; this School has a lending Library. >




Olney, at the very north of the county of Buckinghamshire, retains its old world charm despite an increase in population due to the expansion of nearby Milton Keynes.
Olney is famous for its pancake race run on Shrove Tuesday from the market place to the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, whose lofty 180 ft spire is a well known landmark. The popular hymn Amazing Grace was written by John Newton, the ex-slave trader, when curate of Olney as part of the Olney Hymns, in conjunction with the poet William Cowper who lived here from 1767 to 1786.

The poet's house on the market place is now a museum containing the artifacts of Cowper and Newton as well as housing a collection of hand-made pillow lace, once an important cottage industry here, but now revived as a hobby/craft.
Today Olney has become the sort of place people like to wander around for an afternoon out. It has numerous antique shops, reproduction furniture showrooms, a good bookshop as well as the museum.

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


Religious refugees, fleeing from the Low Countries and France in the 16th and 17th centuries, brought their lacemaking craft with them and taught the local women of North Buckinghamshire, and it soon became the cottage industry of the small market town of Olney. The poet, William Cowper, while resident in Olney, recorded in a letter dated 1780 that there were "very near 1,200 lacemakers" employed in the town.

By this time local traders had taken to stocking the thread, parchment patterns and pins that were needed for lace manufacture. These middlemen became wealthy lace dealers, making money at the poor cottagers’ expense, and many of the large houses in Olney were built with the profits of the women's hard work.
Lace pillows, stuffed with straw, bobbins, bobbin winders and candle stools were all made locally.

Lace schools were set up where children as young as four were taught to make lace in crowded cottage rooms by a dame who would rub their noses on the pin heads if they did not follow the pattern correctly.

Everyone looked forward to St Andrew's Day, 30th November, known as “Tanders", for this was the lacemakers' holiday, when Olney people congregated in "one another's housen". Special Tanders cakes of dough flavoured with caraway seeds were eaten and a mead-like drink made from honey called metheglin was drunk. Games were played too, like Jumping Over the Candlestick, and a good time was had by all.

It was a sad period for this local cottage industry when the machine-made€ lace from Nottingham came into production in the early 1800s. Local lacemakers reduced the width of their lace from wide floral patterns to narrow "baby" lace in an effort to beat the machines. And one famous Olney lace designer, John Millward, designed circular motifs for the crowns of baby’s caps, which the machines couldn’t copy at first.

John Millward (who is remembered today by "Mill’ards Entry” – a narrow passage leading from the High Street to East Street, alongside his former home) won prizes for lace designs at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

Also exhibited there, for the first time in Britain, was Maltese Lace. The local women liked the look of this more “open” lace and thought it would be quicker to make than the old point lace, so a new form of lace evolved called, initially, Beds/Maltese and now termed Bedfordshire lace (though not confined to that county) with its "leaves" and "spiders" and "nine-pin edge”. This became very popular in Olney and district, so much so that by the end of the 19th century the wide floral patterns of point lace (now known as Buckinghamshire lace) were in danger of dying out, so a group of ladies based at Gayhurst got together and set up the North Bucks Lace Association, persuading the older lacemakers to continue making the point patterns, and it is due to their guaranteed sales of lace that the old patterns survived.

Around the same time Torchon lace from France made its appearance – of simple geometric patterns that was easy to make. It was spoken of disparagingly by local lacemakers, who referred to it as "dishcloth" lace.

By the turn of the 20th century, lacemaking was beginning to pall with the younger women, who could obtain more money working in the local shoe factories. But Harry Armstrong from Stoke Goldington set up a Bucks Cottage Workers" Agency in 1906 and guaranteed the women sales of their lace. His business flourished and in 1909 he moved to Olney to premises near the railway station, which was convenient for the transport of lace to all parts of the world.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "Buckinghamshire Within Living Memory" (1993) and reproduced here with their permission


Description of Olney from J.J. Sheahan, 1861.

The market town of Olney is situated in the most northern part of Buckinghamshire, and the parish is bound on the north by Northamptonshire. The place is distant from Newport Pagnell 5 miles N., 9 miles N.E. from the Wolverton Railway Station, 12 miles S.E. from Northampton, 12 miles W. from Bedford, 19 miles N.E. from Buckingham, and 57 miles N.W. by N. from London. The parish, including the hamlet of Warrington, is about 4 miles in length, and 2.5 miles in breadth, and contains 3,140 acres. The population in 1851 was 2,329 souls. The population in 1801 was 2,075; in 1821, 2,339; in 1831, 2,418; and in 1841, 2,437 souls. The rateable value of the town and the parish is £3,527.

The Town is delightfully situated in a pleasant valley through which the Ouse flows, and is contained almost entirely in one broard street from north to south, about three-quarters of a mile in length. The approach to the place from the Newport Pagnell road, is by a long causeway supported upon seventeen arches, crossing the meadow land  which is flooded in winter; and the southern entrance of the town (at the end of this causeway) is by a narrow and dangerous bridge, of four arches, which it is said the Lord of the Manor and the inhabitants intend to widen or rebuild.

The main part of the street is paved, flanked with footways, and lined with, for the most part, good modern houses of stone, and slated. Many are genteel residences, and there are some good shops. The houses have gardens behind, attached, with back entrances opening into lanes running parallel with the principal thoroughfare. Near its centre the street widens and forms a spacious Market Place where a small Market is held on Thursdays (formerly on Mondays), and Fairs on Easter Monday, June 29th ("Cherry Fair") and the 13th October. The latter is a pleasure fair.

Malting is extensively carried on here, and pillow-lace making forms the chief employment of the poorer class of females.

The town is well supplied with water from springs; and it was first lighted with gas on the evening of the 21st of September, 1854. The Gas Works are situated at Silver End; the gasometer holds 5,000 cubic feet of gas; and the buildings are of red brick, and neat. The Gas Company is a Joint-stock one holding 150 shares £10 each. Mr. William Foskett is the manager.

Nearly at the top of the town is the Lock Up, which has been removed of late years, from the Market Place. It is of stone, in the shape of a cone, ending in a sharp point. Olney has recently been thoroughly under drained.

The Lord of the Manor holds his court-leet and court-baron annually at the Bull Inn.


Olney Parish (Pop. 2,344)

Three Daily Schools ; one of which (commenced 1819) contains 40 males ; another (commenced 1827) 46 males; these Schools are supported by voluntary contributions; in the other, 25 males and 19 females are instructed at
the expense of their parents.

Two Boarding Schools, wherein 36 females are educated, at the expense of their parents.

Three Sunday Schools, supported by voluntary contributions; in one are 128 children of both sexes, who attend the Established Church; another (appertaining to Independents) consists of 170 children; the other, to the Baptist denomination, of 150 ; the last two have lending Libraries.

Warrington Hamlet (Pop. 74.)-No School in the hamlet.



Notes on Petsoe

Description of Petsoe from J.J. Sheahan, 1861.

Register to



Description of Ravenstone from J.J. Sheahan, 1861.

The parish of Ravenston, Ravenstone, or Rowenstone, adjoins Olney on the west, and, like that parish, is bounded on the north by Northamptonshire, and on the south by the river Ouse. Its area is 2,230 acres; population about 450; rateable value £2,023. The soil is various – clay, gravel & loam. Limestone is quarried here, and occasionally used for building purposes. There are about 200 acres of woodland.

The Village is large and stands about 3 miles W. by S from Olney, and 5 miles N.N.W. From Newport Pagnell. The surface in the northern portion of the parish is somewhat undulated but is generally flat towards the Ouse in the south.

Priory of Ravenstone. This house was for monks or canons regular of the Order of St. Augustine. We have seen that Peter de Chaceport was its founder, and that he endowed it with the Manor of Ravenstone which he had purchased from Saher de Wahul. This endowment included the capital mansion belonging to the estate, and the advowson of the Rectory. As before intimated this Convent with its property was given to Cardinal Wolsey in 1524 when the community consisted of a Prior and only four canons, who were translated to other monasteries. The conventual church is said to have bee pulled down, and the present parochial edifice built out of its materials. Browne Willis was unwilling to credit this tradition, as there was not in the parish church, even in his day, any ancient monuments, or painted glass, or signs of antiquity, notwithstanding that the edifice appeared to be of much earlier date than the Reformation.

There are no remains of the conventual buildings, but Willis states that in his time a small portion of the ruins were visible. The site of the monastery, a short distance west of the church, is occupied by a farmhouse; and near to it are indications of buildings in the very uneven ground. “On the decent from the hill on which the church stands,” writes Dr. Lipscomb, “is a large orchard, moated round, in which was formerly a fish-pond, since filled-up, and a well of clear water, covered with an ancient wrought stone, through the cavity of which, the stream proceeding from it runs into a small brook. The spring appears to arise here, but the stone is evidently part of a niche, seemingly inverted.” Another writer says that near the farm-house, on the site of the Convent, “is a well called Holy Well, over which is placed in an inverted position, probably the only existing vestige of the Priory, which appears from this specimen to have been built in the florid style of English architecture. The measurement of the stone is 4 feet 3 inches, by 1 foot 8 inches, and seems to have formed the heads of three niches, one of each is almost entire”.

The Vicarage House was built by the present Vicar in 1825.

The School is a neat stone building, with a residence for the teachers, pleasantly situated on high ground, and surrounded by a garden in the centre of the village. About 30 children attend daily. At the south end of the village is a small Dissenting Chapel, used both by Baptists and Independents. It is simply a cottage with the partition removed.


Ravenstone Parish (Pop. 430)

One Daily School, containing upwards of 80 children of both sexes, endowed with a salary of  £12 per annum, with house and garden for the master, and an allowance for stationary and firing.

Two Sunday Schools, in which about 40 males and 40 females receive gratuitous instruction.


Notes on Shenley


Description of Shenley Church End & Shenley Brook End, from J.J. Sheahan, 1861.

The township of Shenley Church End containing about 2,900 acres is situated in Newport hundred, but the hamlet of Shenley Brook End, consisting of about 1,590 acres, is locally situated in the hundred of Cottesloe. The rateable value of the township is £2,907; that of the hamlet £1,458. The population of Shenley with Tattenhoe is at present, 353 souls. The soil is a sandy clay, and in some parts of a deep feruginous or ochreous tint.

The village of Shenley Church End is small and pleasantly seated in a well wooded district. It is distant 3.5 miles N.W. from Fenny Stratford. Shenley Brook End is a scattered hamlet nearly one mile southward.

Shenley Church End is a very ancient inclosure; and Brook End was inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1752. “There is no mansion-house, or manorial site,” says Lipscomb, “but the woods are called Hoo Park, Shenley, and Oakhill.”

Shenley House, the seat of Joseph Baily Esq., is a handsome stone mansion in a delightful situation near the church. The prospects from the house are extensive. The living is a Rectory, valued in the King's Books at £22 9s. 7d., and returned in the Clergy List as now worth £424 per annum. The patronage is vested in the Lord of the Manor, and the Rev. Robert William Scurr is the present Rector.

The Rectory House is situated in tastefully laid out pleasure grounds, a short distance southward from the church.


Shenley Parish: Brook End Hamlet (Pop. 244)

No School in the hamlet, but several children attend the Sunday School at Church End.


Education Provision 1833

Shenley Parish: Church End Township (Pop. 240)

One Daily School, containing 20 children of both sexes, who are instructed at the expense of their parents;

One Sunday School (commenced 1826), with about 50 children, (several of them from the hamlet of Brook End), supported by voluntary subscription.


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