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BOW BRICKHILL: The Old English name for Bow Brickhill was 'Bolle Brichelle'. 'Brichelle' was the Norman spelling of Bryk meaning 'hill top'. For the Anglo Saxons, 'Hyllein' meant 'hill'.

At the end of the twelfth century the village had associations with a family named Boel.


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A Roman road, Watling Street, passes through the nearby village of Little Brickhill. Entries in the Domesday Survey of 1086 show two manors situated in Bow Brickhill both belonging to a Walter Gifard. The railway from Bedford to Bletchley runs below the hill and the village is served by a small station.

The parish was 'enclosed' in 1790 when an allotment of land was assigned to the rector in lieu of tithes. Under the same act an area known as the 'Black Ground' was awarded to the parish "for use of the poor for firing". But In 1844 an Act of Parliament was passed to enable the 'Rector, Churchwardens and Overseers' to sell part of it.

There followed a great deal of discontent about the ruling in the village and to such a degree that the event was commemorated in stone-work on April Cottage, Church Road. The inscription reads: "Bow Brickhill Healt was awarded to the Poor of this parish 1793; an Act of Parliament was obtained to sell it by the Trustees 1844." Then follow some exclamation marks and the names of the trustees!!


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All Saints, the Parish Church of Bow Brickhill, known in the '30s and '40s as the 'Beacon Church', used to be conspicuous, standing out like a castle on a hill.

Now that the hill is heavily wooded, views to the south are blocked, and it is difficult to see the church from the surrounding countyside. However there are spectacular vistas of the new city of Milton Keynes from the top of the tower which is opened to the public one weekend each year.

During the Napoleonic Wars the tower served as a telegraph station and in WWII (1939-1945) was used by the Royal Observer Corps for aircraft spotting.

In a tale told by George Munday (born 1914) whose father and mother both grew up, married and died in the village. he says, "My other grandfather was Thomas Riley Kent who could neither read nor write. He used to tell me fairy stories about Bow Brickhill. I can only remember one of them. The parson wanted to build the church on the green and they started to build. However the fairies moved every stone put down in day time to the top of the hill during the night. I’ve always felt that (the story) may hint at a dispute that took place many years ago!"

The Church is built of sandstone rubble dug from the greensand escarpment on which is stands. Before the fifteenth century the church (probably) consisted of a Nave and Chancel dating from the twelfth century.

The North and South aisles and the West tower were added in the fifteenth century. In 1630 the Nave was re-roofed, but afterwards, through neglect, became sadly dilapidated and the Church is said to have been disused for nearly 150 years.

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The church was restored in 1756-1757 by Browne Willis, a local antiquarian, and the East wall of the chancel was rebuilt in brick. Further restoration occurred in 1883 and the south porch was added at that time.


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The woods surrounding the church are shown to the right and below. A track from the end of the road that rises from the village to the church and progresses slightly beyond it at one time (and may indeed still do so) led through the woods to Woburn Sands, a small town also situated on the Bedford to Bletchley railway.

Sir Sydney Nicholson, who founded what later became the Royal School of Church Music in 1928, while organist and choirmaster at Westminster Abbey brought his choristers to Bow Brickhill village in 1923 (and during several years after) to a summer camp. One of his many compositions, a hymn tune, he named after the village.




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