Church: St Mary the Virgin

Hundred: Cottesloe

Poor Law District: Leighton Buzzard

Size (acres): 4647

Easting & Northing: 497219

Grid Ref SP970190 Click to see map


Names & Places

Edlesborough PARISH St Mary the Virgin
Eddinberge NAMES name for Edlesborough in Domesday Book in 1086
Edgborough NAMES name for Edlesborough in 1716
Edgeborough NAMES name for Edlesborough in 1655
Edysborogh NAMES name for Edlesborough in 1535
Ringshal NAMES name for Ringshall in 1766
Independent NON-CONFORMIST Chalkshire Chapel. First Mentioned: 1836
Methodist NON-CONFORMIST Dagnall. First Mentioned: 1800
Particular Baptist NON-CONFORMIST Northall. First Mentioned: 1810
Weslyan NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: 1858
Dagnall PLACE within the parish
Hudnall PLACE within the parish
Northall PLACE within the parish
Ringshall (Part) PLACE within the parish
St. Margarets (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 997
1811 1146
1821 1378
1831 1490
1841 1722
1851 1838
1861 1671
1871 1814
1881 1598
1891 1448
1901 1099
1911 916
1921 898
1931 885
1941 N/A
1951 1117
1961 1334
1971 1556
1981 2401
1991 2614

There was no census in 1941.



Parish  Church  Register  Start
Edlesborough   St Mary the Virgin   Baptisms   1567   1901   Yes,
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Not available
Edlesborough   St Mary the Virgin   Marriages   1568   1975   Yes,
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Not available
Edlesborough   St Mary the Virgin   Burials   1567   1903   Yes,
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Not available
Edlesborough   Baptist   Burials   1845   1870   Yes,
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Not available



School Records Project

Place   School Type   Name   Start Year   End Year   Indexed   Document Type
    Edlesborough         Edlesborough     1874     1891     Yes     Logbook
    Edlesborough         Edlesborough     1891     1900     Yes     Logbook
    Edlesborough         Edlesborough     1900     1929     Yes     Logbook
    Edlesborough - Not available     Minute Book     Edlesborough     1922     1946     Yes     Minute Book
    Edlesborough - Not available         Edlesborough     1930     1980     Yes     Logbook




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

PositionBefore 1700  18th Century  19th Century  Overall Surnames  


'What I spent I had,
 What I gave I have,
What I refused I am being punished for,
 What I kept I have lost.'

So says the unique Rose Brass of Edlesborough church, which stands high on a chalk mound overlooking the Vale of Aylesbury and Ivinghoe Beacon. The mound may or not be an ancient British burial mound, but the view from it is superb.

Below the church is a 16th century tithe barn, which by its size, 180 feet long, shows how flourishing Edlesborough must once have been. Originally thatched, now tiled with mellow peg-tiles, its timber-framed walls in-filled with brick and Totternhoe clunch from the village next-door-but-one, it is being carefully restored to fit its new role as offices. Church Farm, its host, is farmed from outside, and the buildings will be houses. The farm has a spring-fed moat inside which is a dove-cote, and round the moat still rides the ghost of Jack the Leather, 'Old Leather Breeches', a highwayman who was dragged from his hiding place in the farm stables to the gibbet at the Beacon. While in hiding his only exercise had been at night, riding the farm horses round the moat, and the lathered horses were spotted one morning by the soldiers sent to find him.

The moat may have surrounded a monastic building. There is certainly a stew pond and fish trap in the grounds of the school next door, which the children are hoping to restore. Let us hope the ghost enjoys his renovated environment. A few yards further along the road, in the grounds of the Old Vicarage, another ghost, that of a gardener murdered in a brawl between rival households, must hear the sounds of children at play and be reminded of happier times.
The ghost of Dick Turpin only frequents the village at night. He had a secret hide-out at Butler's Manor at Northall, where a now blocked up window once commanded a view of laden stage coaches passing Ivinghoe Beacon. There was plenty of time for him then to ride across country to hold up the coach at the old road at Dunstable. He rides now of a dark night along the narrow road between the church and the Tring Road.

The village green, a large, well-laundered open space with football pitches, cricket table, tennis courts and children's swings was once gated to stop grazing animals escaping. These grazing rights were held by those living in the surrounding cottages. These are still standing behind the newer houses which were built after the Enclosure Act took effect in Edlesborough in 1855. The shape of the old common land can still be seen, since the cottagers were allowed to plant and prune damson trees local to the district on the common to a depth of 40 ft, and forward of this 40 ft the new roads were built. In a good year the damsons, sold for dye-making and sent off from Stanbridgeford Station on the train called the Dunstable Flyer, went far to helping a family through the winter. In the last century Edlesborough was a poor village and fast depopulating, from 1,371 in 1891 to 898 in 1921. There were plenty to make full use of the 864 41b loaves provided yearly by Rendell’s 16th century charity.

The 19th century village was owned largely by the Ashridge Estate. Houses were painted in the Ashridge colour of dark maroon brown with identical wooden fences in front. These were the first things to be changed when houses passed into private ownership, the way that nowadays the council house gains a porch and a new front door. Agriculture for the menfolk was supplemented by the women and children's wages from straw plaiting for the Luton hat industry, and one of the new victorian houses had a room for a plait school above the archway to its stable. In 1895, the new Parish Council consisted of five farmers, one farmer and dealer, one plait merchant, a labourer and a carpenter. Now Manor Farm is the last to be farmed by a farmer living in the village farmhouse surrounded by its buildings. Charity Farm, buildings now houses, has the maladjusted ghost of a farmworker. His threshing floor has been lowered to form a new house level, but he remains at the old height and is only ever half seen.

The mill, perhaps on the site of the one mentioned in the Domesday Book, grinds corn no longer, though its machinery ornaments the sitting room of the elegant house it has become. The Rat and Sparrow Club of 1917, helping the First World War effort, by destroying the vermin which preyed on the food supply faded away, though sparrow pie was still being eaten in the 1940s, the Have-a-Go club, which bought much of the children's play equipment too has gone.

The hamlet of Northall, part of Edlesborough parish, once had its own school which was closed in 1905. The two pubs, The Swan and The Village Green Inn, now called The Northall Inn, are still there. A smithy, where horses were shod and iron household items were repaired closed in the early 1930s, as did the wheelwright, carpenter and undertaker, who used to make his own coffins but hired the carriages from Dunstable. A family baker retired in 1953 and the village shop closed in 1983.

But Edlesborough still has a thriving sense of community; good communications though no industry. There are no famous people among us, our recent claim to notoriety through the Fox rapist is best forgotten, but the school is full again and the village grows and flourishes.

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


Dagnall was, and still is, one of the two hamlets in the Parish of Edlesborough. The seven farms that surrounded the village, together with nineteen cottages, the Mission Church and the parsonage, belonged to the Ashridge estate. Lord Brownlow was responsible for the curate's living.
All the properties situated between the allotment gardens and the parsonage, and land stretching back to the Studham Road, were owned by Messrs Batchelor Brothers. Within the Batchelor's property were a brewery, a malthouse, piggeries, and cottages for those employed at the brewery. There was also a small private chapel, as a result of some dispute with the Methodists and the Church of England. The Batchelors' private house was situated at the northwest end of the village. Near the entrance gate was a building called 'The Tramp Ward' that provided shelter for one night for any tramp on his wanderings. In the morning he was given a drink of small beer at the brewery before continuing his journey.

Beer was also brewed at the Cross Keys public house for sale in the house and for customers requiring larger quantities in pins, firkins and larger barrels. (Farmers provided beer for their men during harvest, haymaking and threshing.)
There were three other public houses in the village, but one, the Golden Rule, only had a six-day licence.

The main roads were little better than cart tracks, and tar roads were unknown until the early 1920's. The iron tyres of the farm carts would sink into the surface of the road to a depth of four or five inches. Footways on the roadside were in the centre of the grass verges and became very muddy during the winter months.

The doctor came from Dunstable, five miles away, sometimes on horseback, at other times in a brougham driven by a coachman. Medicines were dispensed by the doctor himself and left to be collected from an open window of his dispensary—often by someone travelling on foot to Dunstable.

The two bakeries in the village delivered to the door daily, as well as to neighbouring villages. Several butchers from other villages delivered to Dagnall in their traders' carts drawn by horse or pony. These carts were totally enclosed. Access to the goods was obtained by lowering the tailboard on chains, and the tailboard then became the cutting-up block. Spring balance scales hung from an arm extended from the top of the cart.

A four-wheeled horse trolley, laden with hardware, paraffin, candles and almost anything you cared to ask for, came round once a week. The draper brought his wares in a tilted cart, and from him mothers would buy yards of shirting to make shirts for their men folk.

Milk, however, was not delivered to the door for a good number of years. Skim milk was collected direct from the farm and cost about a halfpenny a pint. The cream from this milk was made into butter.

A sub-post office and general shop catered for most needs, and there was also a general shop attached to one of the public houses. The postman delivered the mail from Little Gaddesden, either by bicycle or on foot.

The mains water supply is comparatively recent. Before its arrival drinking water had to be raised from the wells some fifty feet in depth. Rain water from the house roofs was stored in underground tanks and used for washing. There was, of course, no main drainage, and toilets were usually situated at the far end of the garden. Sinks and drains discharged into dumb wells that allowed the water to soak into the chalk.

The Mission Church was a church on Sundays and a school during the week—until the new school opened on 11 January 1909. The single bell at the church summoned the congregation to worship and the boys and girls to school. One Sunday the churchwarden, who was very deaf, was tugging away at the bell-rope when the clanger parted company with the bell. Not being too sure if his hearing had deteriorated further, the churchwarden continued to ring. When the village blacksmith entered the church the churchwarden asked him if the bell was still ringing. The blacksmith shook his head, and the bell has remained silent until this day.

Written the  husband of Gladys Putman, Dagnall

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


Edlesborough Parish, including the Hamlets of Dagnall, Hudnall, and Northall,
(Pop. 1,490)

One Daily School (commenced 1827), wherein about 20 males are instructed at the expense of their parents.

Two Sunday Schools, in one, supported by the Vicar, from 80 to 100 children of both sexes are instructed ; the other is maintained by Dissenters, and consists of about 50 children.




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

Edlesborough includes the hamlets of Dagnall, Hudnall, and Northall, as well as part of the hamlet of Horton; and is one of the most extensive parishes in Bucks. It lies on the eastern verge of the county on the borders of Hertfordshire, towards the south. The parish is, owing to its peculiar shape, more than sixteen in circumference. Its area is 4,579 acres; population, 1,665 souls. The rateable value of the entire parish is £6,550.

The village of Edlesborough or Edgebro' is chiefly built round a "Green" of about 30 acres, which until now had been an unenclosed common, upon which the older inhabitants had the right of pasture; but which is, at present (1861), together with about 500 acres of other common land in the parish, being enclosed. The place is distant 3 miles S.W. from Dunstable; and 3 miles N.E. from Ivinghoe. The Church stands on a hill west of the village.