The Old Village at Stantonbury

I have posted several times about the old church at Stanton Low. It is not strictly speaking a Wolverton topic, but it has had long Wolverton associations and many people have asked me about the village, so why not.

The manor itself emerged as a distinct unit in the 9th or 10th century, sandwiched between the manors of Bradwell and Great Linford. It stretches from the river Ouse in the north to the higher ground above Bradell in the south. It covers 806 acres and is roughly one third of the size of the Wolverton Manor.

The Domesday survey of 1086 provides us with a snapshot. There were 7 villeins, perhaps cultivating 30 acres each, and 3 borders, who had less land and less status. There was also a mill. From the number of recorded ploughs, economic historians have estimated that about half the manor was under cultivation, approximately 400 acres. About 200 acres of this was reserved for the lord’s demesne.
These figures may also tell us that the population living on the manor was about 40 and it seemed that it never at any time after got to be much more than that. For comparison purposes, Haversham, across the river, and a population that approximately doubled that of Stanton in 1066.

The manor was known as Stanton. By 1200, when the ruling family had adopted the surname of Barre, the manor was called Stanton Barre, Stanton Barry and eventually Stantonbury. The Barry family became quite prominent in the area and in time acquired most of the Bradwell manor.

At the end of the 15th century the lord of the manor, Sir Nicholas Vaux, pursued an aggressive policy of enclosing his estates in Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire so as to convert the land to pasture. This meant that he could make more profit out of the land by raising sheep than through arable farming. In consequence as many as forty people lost their homes and livelihood. We are told this through the findings of a commission set up by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Vaux was prosecuted but appears to have escaped fine or punishment and the end result for the unfortunate peasants of Stantonbury was that they lost their livelihood and Sir Nicholas Vaux achieved his objective. Some of you may observe that nothing changes.

Thereafter the manor had a very low population. A document of 1617-18 records two messuages, six tofts, two watermills, two dove houses 3 gardens and three orchards. A messuage would describe some land with a dwelling house and various outbuildings. If there were two of them, one would certainly be the manor house and the other, either the rectory or a farm house. We will not know for certain but if the land was given over to sheep farming it is less likely that there would be a farm house such as the ones later appearing on the Newport Road and at Stanton High. It may have been a rectory. The torts were single room peasant dwellings, each supporting a family. Although two watermills are described, archaeologists believe that there was only one miller operating the two mills.

It was a very small village and it was to grow even smaller. By the time of the 1841 census there were only two cottages left at Stanton Low, the big house and rectory had disappeared in the previous century and there were two farmhouses.

Photo of Stantonbury taken in 1957

This photograph was taken before the further encroachment of the gravel pits so you can see in the top left hand corner the evidence of ridge and furrow faming. These would have been the villagers strips of land which they farmed for sustenance. The village dwellings were closer to the church and the manor house and mansion to the south.

The development of New Bradwell in the 1850s transformed Stantonbury in much the same way that New Wolverton overshadowed “Old” Wolverton and for almost a century there was no development. The Church gradually fell into disuse and in time became a complete ruin.

There were some encroachments on the manor in the 19th century with the construction of Harwood Street and North Street on the east side of the Bradwell Road and in the 20th century the Bradville estate at Stanton High brought the “garden city” concept of housing development to the area. Post Milton keynes the old manor is scarcely recognisable.

The church ruin is the only remaining identifiable part of the ancient village.

1770 map by Thomas Jeffreys

This map pre-dates the canal and the railway. In this context Stantonbury, although small, was not entirely insignificant. The established villages of Great Linford, Haversham and Bradwell had the sie and shape they had 200 years later. Stantonbury still had the big house which I will describe in the next post.

6 thoughts on “The Old Village at Stantonbury”

  1. 'Stantonbury Vicarage, Wolverton, Bucks' I have two letters (notes really) from a Marjorie Woodhouse at this address. They are not dated – well, one is dated Nov 22nd ! – but I imagine they are c 1905 – 1910.

    I've found a Rev A C Woodhouse linked with parish records about this time but I can't make things fit. Does the address relate to an old vicarage linked to St Peter's Church?
    Dave Allen

  2. The vicarage at this date was up the hill towards Bradville, above the canal. The parish retained the Stantonbury name for a long time. OI am not sure when New Bradwell officially became "New Bradwell" but it may have been around this period. The local football team was Stantonbury St Peter's and then it became New Bradwell St Peter's. Old allegiances die hard and I think the old church at St Peters was still in use at the beginning of the 20th century and was used perhaps once a month.

  3. Hi

    I found this a very interesting article. Do you know why the section of canal south of the church at Stanton Low is called "Target Turn".

    Many thanks

  4. Is anyone familiar with the old track that ran from Old Bradwell across what is now the Bradville and Stantonbury grid squares to cross the Newport Road near Bradwell cemetery (in the vicinity of Luggs Lane although others may know it as Rogue's Lane) which then carried on across what is now known as Oakridge Park (where is this ridge of oaks BTW?) to cross the canal to go to Stanton Low and then on over to Haversham Mill.

    I understand that some may have known the track as Gypsy Lane because an old Gypsy couple lived in a temporary building alongside.

  5. That was probably an ancient track and it marked the division between the Bradwell and Stantonbury manors. I think it joined Common Lane and would have taken people to their meetings at Secklow Hill, now at the centre of MK.

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