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. >