Little Horwood


Little Horwood Parish

Church: St Nicholas

Hundred: Cottesloe

Poor Law District: Winslow

Size (acres): 1948

Easting & Northing: 479230

Grid Ref SP790300 Click to see map



Little Horwood PARISH St Nicholas
Independent NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: ?. Recorded in 1851 religious census
Methodist NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: 1847
Whaddon Chase (Part) PLACE within the parish




These population figures are based on the Census results. The boundaries are those used in the particular census which may vary over time..

1801 339
1811 325
1821 429
1831 431
1841 392
1851 427
1861 449
1871 411
1881 309
1891 304
1901 267
1911 293
1921 258
1931 255
1941 N/A
1951 332
1961 260
1971 287
1981 321
1991 357

There was no census in 1941.



Parish  Church  Register  Start
Little Horwood   St Nicholas   Baptisms   1568   1866   Yes,
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Not available
Little Horwood   St Nicholas   Marriages   1568   1901   Yes,
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Not available
Little Horwood   St Nicholas   Burials   1575   1902   Yes,
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Not available




These were extracted from our own records and presented as a guide.

PositionBefore 1700  18th Century  19th Century  Overall Surnames  



The village was known as Parva Herewode or Horwude in the 13th century, Parva Horwode in the 14th, Harwood Parva in the 17th, each name referring to the woods and the heavy clay soil in the area. When the field system was developed the Roman unit split into two parishes and Little Horwood became a village in its own right. It was not mentioned in the Domesday Book, being included in the Winslow manor which belonged to the Abbot of St Albans until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Little Horwood's church, St Nicholas, was built about 1200 added to over the centuries and restored in 1889 when a series of wall paintings was discovered under a crust of whitewash. The earliest date from the 13 th century.

The Second World War changed Little Horwood from a quiet rural community to one bustling with crowds of strangers for an airfield was made on land lying between the two Horwoods. It came into use on 3rd September 1942 and from it operated No 26 Operational Training Unit of Bomber Command flying mainly Vickers Armstrong Wellington twin-engined bombers, though many other types of aircraft came and went also. The constant din of aircraft flying low overhead became commonplace and crashes and the death of crews all too frequent. The army was camped at the Manor and prior to D Day, the village was seething with men and machines carrying out manoeuvres on a vast scale.

The airfield ceased operations on January 15 th 1946 and a sudden quiet must have settled again on Little Horwood. To-day the runways and ammunition sheds can still be seen over the fields but the only activity is the grazing of sheep and cattle and the only flights are made by birds.
Life went quietly on; too quietly perhaps. In 1968 some felt that the village was lacking in amenities and much needed improving. There were black spots and very little in the way of entertainment. The village was losing its spirit.
So a newsletter was produced and put through every door. It was a gamble. Deficiencies were pointed out and a scheme was suggested to raise money for the suggested alterations and improvements. The letter ended thus:-
'Because of *ts smallness, the village must pull together or nothing can be achieved. It can only do this if everyone contributes in some way to the maintenance and running of the village, and the people of the community will only do this if their interest is aroused.'

The gamble was successful. The people rallied round. The Little Horwood Social Amenities Association was born and the Entertainments Committee came into being so that all that was wrong has been put right and within the village there is now an active social life.

One of the first achievements of the Social Amenities Association was to buy the school, closed and up for sale. This now houses a flourishing Play Group, the Youth Club, as well as being the Cricket Pavilion and a venue for dances, bazaars, parties etc. The cricket field and playground behind and surrounding it is in the charge of a committee who have recently enlarged and improved the facilities. Sports for the children and pig roasts and a barn dance are some of the activities which take place here. The village hall is used for similar functions, for meetings and for the annual theatrical production staged by the W.I. Shrove Tuesday Pancake races and May Day Celebrations have also been revived by the W.I. and in October there is the Village Race, a cross country event, open to all ages, 2xh miles for the younger men, IVi miles for ladies, children and the not so young. The whole village turns out for this event either to run or just to watch. Several cups are presented and the Crown does a roaring trade. Boxing Day sees a race of a different kind when duck owners bring their birds, complete with knitted colours round their necks, to race in the brook. It is a crazy get-together which raises some money for the recreation ground. Racing of a more serious kind takes place in the spring when two point-to-point meetings are held on Manor Farm land if the weather is not too wet and the clay soil from which the village derives its name does not become waterlogged.

The money raising scheme first suggested in 1968 has continued to this day; weekly payments for those wishing to participate, a weekly draw to determine the winner of the week, and the profits managed by the Trust which allocates money to those organisations in need of it for improvements etc. Quarterly, the Little Horwood News is published, giving news of events, reports of functions, welcoming newcomers and frequently producing items of historical interest.
For the future, though people come and go, it is hoped that the community spirit which makes this village such a good one to live in, will continue.

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


 Living in a small village and being the middle child of a family of seven, my childhood was very happy. We all had to work hard, but we had lots of fun too.
We all had to get up at the crack of dawn and were quite ready to go to bed early.

All our drinking water had to be fetched in buckets from a stand pipe in the street. We often had to take a kettle of boiling water to thaw the frozen tap in winter. In the back yard we had a large covered tank and two tubs, which held the very valuable rain water.
Each Wednesday morning very early, all doors and windows were closed, and the village streets were deserted, for this was the day the sanitary cart came round. The wooden closets were right at the bottom of the garden, most of them had two seats, one for adults and a small one for children, so each closet had two buckets to be emptied.

We always kept two pigs in the sty, one for the house and one to sell. The profit made on the one sold, paid for the other.

It was a busy time when the pig was killed. There was all the offal to see to, and the lovely liver, and the fat of which some was always taken round to relatives and friends and then they returned the kindness when they had a pig killed. All the odd pieces of meat were made into big pork pies.
The chitterlings had to be thoroughly cleaned in strong salt water and had to be turned and put into fresh salt water every day for a fortnight. The 'leaf, a large piece of fat, had to be cut into small pieces and put into a large saucepan and melted down to make great bowls of lard. The hard pieces that were left were called scratchings and were delicious with salt and bread.
The sides of bacon and hams were salted in a big 'lead', a large flat dish the size of a big table. Salt had to be rubbed into the meat for several weeks, then the sides of bacon and hams were wrapped in muslin cloth and hung in the kitchen to dry.

On Sunday morning two of us made the long journey right up the village to the bake house, one carrying a huge greased baking tin and large joint and the other a can of batter. Almost everyone in the village took their Sunday joint to be cooked like this. The Yorkshire pudding underneath the meat was just too good to describe.

In the spring we went at night time up the ridings to the edge of the woods to listen to the nightingales. On Good Friday everyone went to the woods to gather primroses to decorate the church and chapel and some for the home. The men spent the day on the allotments setting the early potatoes.

One of the year's loveliest days was May Day. My grandmother had a beautiful garden full of old-fashioned flowers. She used to pick a small bunch for the younger children and the older ones each had a Crown Imperial. We carried these flowers round from door to door singing as we went, all dressed up in our prettiest dresses, with daisy chains for hair bands, necklaces and bracelets.

May Day Song

'A May garland I have brought you
Before your door it stands
It's nothing but a sprout
But it's well spread about
By the work of the Good Lord's hands.
'Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen We wish you happy May We've come to show you our May garland Because it is May Day.'

When anyone in the village died, the church-bell was tolled at once and again before the funeral. All curtains and blinds were drawn over the cottage windows if the funeral procession had to pass by.

K.A. Savage, Little Horwood

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


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

The area of Little Horwood, or Horwood Prava, is 1,950 acres; population 448; rateable value, £1,948. The railway between Bletchley Junction and Oxford passes through the parish. Straw plat and bone lace are made here. The village lies 2.5 miles N.E. from Winslow.

Little Horwood is not mentioned in Domesday, but the place is supposed to have been surveyed Winslow. The Manor belonged to the Abbey of St. Albans, and was granted in 1599 to Sir John Fortesque, whose son sold it to Sir George Villers, Knt., afterwards Duke of Buckingham. George, his son the profligate Duke of Buckingham, mortgaged it with his other estates; and when this Duke’s property was sold by the mortgagees, the Horwood Prava estate was purchaces by William Lowndes, Esq., ancestor of the present proprietor, William Selby Lowndes, Esq.

Besides the Lord of the Manor, the other chief proprietors of the soil here are Philip Dauncey, Esq., Miss Weston, and the executors of the late Mr. W. Tuckley.

The Rectory House, situated about one mile from the church, is an ancient and spacious building, now the seat of Philip Dauncey, Esq. It stands on a hill, surrounded by lofty trees, and attached to it are about 400 acres of park-like grounds – remarkable for richness, and used as grazing land. From the dairy here the Royal palaces receive, through the purveyor, a supply of butter, daily. Here too are bred some of the finest, of the description of cows commonly known as the Alderney breed. This house and estate belonged successively to the families of Pigott, Styles, Carter, Adams, and Langston. Mr Dauncey has the impropriation of the great tithes.

A short distance eastward from the church is a decayed mansion, surrounded by a moat, now the farm residence of the Moat Farm. At a part of the villages called Fish End, is an ancient and curious house of brick and wood, in the shape of the letter H, the upper story projecting over the lower part, and having gabled-ends. At Hill Farm is another ancient house having an overhanging upper story. At Wood End is a house similar in style to the Fish-end house; and also one gable of a residence that was formerly inclosed by a wall of red brick with an ornamented coping, a portion of which remains. The parish has been inclosed by an Act of Parliament, passed in 1766, when an allotment of land was assigned to the impropriator of the great tithes, and a corn-rent to the Vicar.

The Living is a Vicarage, in the gift of the Church Patronage Society, and incumbency of the Rev. Thomas B. Holt. It is rated in the King’s Book at £5 6s. 8d., and returned in the Clergy List at £111. The right of presentation has passed through many hands. A few years ago the patron was the Rev. John Bartlett, of Marnwood, Salop. The tithes were commuted in 1849.

The Church (St Nicholas) is an ancient edifice consisting of a square embattled west tower (in which hangs a ring of five bells), a nave, south aisle, and chancel. There are four Early English arches between the nave and the aisle, supported by circular pillars; the aisle is lighted by two three light windows, square-headed; and there are two windows, similar in character in the wall of the nave. The present deal pews were erected in 1830; at the west end is a spacious gallery, put up in 1787; the ancient hagioscope, and a sculptured pedesdal or bracket remain in the aisle; the pulpit is ancient and oak; the font is small and plain; and the ceilings are of plaster. The chancel is small, and lighted by three plain windows. In this part of the church are some high-backed pews. On the north wall are four marble tablets to the memory of Sir Stephen, who was an Alderman of London, purchased an estate here, where he died in 1797. He was High Sheriff of Bucks in 1788 and 1796. The Rev. Stephen Langston, Vicar of this church for 26 years, died 1816.

On the south side of the church-yard is the Vicarage House, “built with framed wood, filled up with bricks, rough-casted, and covered with tiles,” as it is described in a terrier, drawn up in 1810; and as it remains to this day.

At the time of the inclosure of the common lands, in 176, an allotment of 3 acres, 27 perches of arable land was assigned for the repairs of the church, and is known as “Church Land.” This land is at present let for £6 a year.    



Little Horwood Parish (Pop. 431)

Two Sunday Schools; one with 34 females; the other, 36 males and 39 females; both supported by subscription.