Original Towns and Villages
Milton Keynes consists of many pre-existing towns and villages, as well as new infill developments. The designated area outside the four main towns (Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford, Wolverton) was largely rural farmland but included many picturesque North Buckinghamshire villages and hamlets: Bradwell village and its Abbey, Broughton, Caldecotte, Fenny Stratford, Great Linford, Loughton, Milton Keynes Village, New Bradwell, Shenley Brook End, Shenley Church End, Simpson, Stantonbury, Tattenhoe, Tongwell, Walton, Water Eaton, Wavendon, Willen, Great and Little Woolstone, Woughton on the Green. The historical settlements have been focal points for the modern development of the new town. Every grid square has historical antecedents, if only in the field names. The more obvious ones are listed below and most have more detailed articles.
Bletchley was first recorded in the 12th century as Blechelai. Its station was a major Victorian junction (the London and North Western Railway with the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Line), leading to the substantial urban growth in the town in that period. It expanded to absorb the villages of Water Eaton and Fenny Stratford.
Bletchley Park was home to the Government Code and Cypher School during the Second World War. The famous Enigma code was cracked here, and the building housed what was arguably the world's first programmable computer, Colossus. The house is now a museum of war memorabilia, cryptography and computing.
The Benedictine Priory of Bradwell Abbey at Bradwell was of major economic importance in this area of north Buckinghamshire before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The routes of the medieval trackways (many of which are now Redways or bridleways) converge on the site from some distance. Nowadays there is only a small medieval chapel and a manor house occupying the site.
New Bradwell, to the north of the medieval Bradwell (Abbey) and just across the canal and the railway to the east of Wolverton, was built specifically for railway workers. It has a working windmill, although technically this lies just a few yards outside of the parish boundary. The level bed of the old Wolverton to Newport Pagnell Line ends here and has been converted to a Redway, making it a favourite route for cycling.
Great Linford appears in the Domesday Book as Linforde, and features a church dedicated to Saint Andrew, dating from 1215. Today, the outer buildings of the 17th century manor house form an Arts Centre, and Linford Manor is a prestigious recording studio.
Milton Keynes Village is the original village to which the New Town owes its name. The original village is still evident, with a pleasant thatched pub, village hall, church and traditional housing. The area around the village has reverted to its original name of Middleton, as shown on old maps of the 1700s. The oldest surviving domestic building in the area, a 14th century manor house, is here.
There has been a market in Stony Stratford since 1194 (by charter of King Richard I). The Rose and Crown Inn at Stratford is reputedly the last place the Princes in the Tower were seen alive.
The manor house of Walton village, Walton Hall, is the headquarters of the Open University and the tiny parish church (deconsecrated) is in its grounds.
The tiny Parish Church (1680) at Willen contains the only unaltered building by the architect and physicist Robert Hooke. Nearby, there is a Buddhist Temple and a Peace Pagoda. The district borders the River Ouzel: there is a large balancing lake here, to capture flash floods before they cause problems downstream on the River Great Ouse. The north basin is a wildlife sanctuary and a favourite of migrating aquatic birds. The south basin is for leisure use, favoured by wind surfers and dinghy sailors. The circuit of the lakes is a favoured "fun run".
The original Wolverton was a medieval settlement just north and west of today's town. The Ridge and Furrow pattern of agriculture can still be seen in the nearby fields and the Saxon (rebuilt in 1819) Church of the Holy Trinity still stands next to the Norman Motte and Bailey site. Modern Wolverton was a 19th century New Town built to house the workers at the Wolverton railway works (which built engines and carriages for the London and North Western Railway).
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