Monday, August 29, 2011

Parish Markers

I am grateful to Andy Baxter for pointing out to me the existence of these boundary markers. When he was a boy at Bushfield School he discovered a stone marker in the bushes on the eastern boundary of the school. He describes it thus from memory: 'The stone took the appearance of a miniature headstone with, from memory, a date in the 1840s and some other markings such as "St G" and "No.2"."
Photo courtesy of Chris Gleadell




He asked Ken Speaks, who was at that time a teacher at the school, and he did a little research to discover that there were at least three of them. Andy Baxter then found another on the Old Wolverton Road, near to the Arden Park light industrial units and was led to believe that a third was in the cellar of the house on the corner of Jersey Road and Stratford Road - possibly Number 82. He doesn't say if any dates were associated with these markers, but the location suggest that they were later.


The original parish of Wolverton included the whole manor, from the east side of the Watling Street and bounded by the River Ouse to the north and Bradwell Brook to the east and south and this remained unaffected until the later middle ages when Stony Stratford was large enough to form two parishes - St Mary Magdalen on the east side and St Giles on the Calverton side. Holy Trinity continued to serve the extensive parish of Wolverton quite complacently until the arrival of the railway in 1838.


As I have described elsewhere, the original land purchase by the London and Birmingham Railway was quite small but in 1840 they purchased another 22 acres to the south of the Stratford Road.



As you can see from the plan here, Wolverton Station was quite small, being bounded by the canal to the north and east and a hedgerow bordering the west of Bury Street and including the Creed Street school. I did thin that the southern boundary was Green Lane, but Andy Baxter's discovery of the marker a little further south suggests that the railway portion extended to that point. (They were later to build The Gables and the doctor's house and surgery here.)

St. George's was originally a chapelry and the first incumbent, George Weight, was styled Perpetual Curate. St George's itself and the Vicarage was built on Radcliffe Trust land and the Radcliffe Trust retained a controlling interest for a number of years afterwards.

At about the time the church was completed the Church Commissioners, in recognition of the quite sizeable population, wished to create a new parish. Their first definition, that it would include all houses and buildings on the western side of the railway, met with opposition from the vicar of Holy Trinity, who foresaw that if Wolverton expanded further his parish would be gradually eaten away. In this he was supported by George Bramwell, Secretary to the Trust, who was already at odds with some of the directors of the railway company. Bramwell formulated a definition which was tied to a plan (such as the one above) and this was agreed to. The parish was thus created by Queen in Council on 19 May 1846.

It may be after this that the first marker discovered by Andy Baxter was installed.

The Radcliffe Trust then resisted further expansion and would not sell any land for housing development until 1860. In the meantime, the L&NWR were forced to develop New Bradwell in order to accommodate their workers. When the expansion did come, it went as far west as the back alley before Cambridge Street. Possibly, when the parish thus expanded, a marker was laid down here. Wolverton so remained until the next expansion of the 1890s which saw the development of Cambridge Street and Windsor Street.

At the turn of the century, the Radcliffe Trust itself, bowing finally to the inevitable, developed its own streets to the west of Windsor Street, including Jersey Road and Anson Road.

I don't know the detail as yet, but it sounds to me from Andy Baxter's description, that a new parish boundary was determined at Jersey Road. I do recall that Anson Road residents tended to use Holy Trinity and Jersey Road residents tended to split both ways - some went to Holy Trinity and some to St George's. My grandparents, who lived at 179 Church Street, went to Holy Trinity for example.





2 comments:

Roger Haycock said...

So where is the parish boundary now? My great grandfather lived at 128 Church Street and he is buried in Holy Trinity church yard but his father is buried in St.Georges church yard.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

I am not sure that there was any hard and fast rule. My mother's parents, who lived at 52 Stratford Road (at the back of 128 Church St) used to go to Holy Trinity and indeed my parents were married there. My understanding was that they simply preferred to go there.