Stewkley, a parish, with a village and two hamlets, in Bucks, 5 miles WNW of Leighton Buzzard station on the main line of the L. & N.W.R. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Leighton Buzzard. Acreage, 3982; population, 1328. The manor belongs to the Hanmer family The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; net value, £275 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Oxford. The parochial church is a very interesting edifice, dating probably from about the middle of the 12th century, and consisting of chancel, nave, S porch, and a massive central tower with pinnacles. It is said to be one of the most beautiful and perfect specimens of a Norman church in England. A small church was erected in 1866 at the S end of the village, and there are Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan chapels. The hamlets are Stewkley Dean and Littlecote.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Stewkley St. Mary|
|Poor Law union||Winslow|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register dates from the year 1545. The earlier portion from 1545 to 1653 was repaired and bound in 1910.
Church of England
St. Michael (parish church)
The church of St. Michael is one of the most complete and remarkable examples of the Norman style now extant in this country, dating, as far as can be ascertained, from the middle of the 12th century, since it is certain that in 1170 it was given by Geoffrey de Clinton to the Priory of Kenilworth, and the Historical Monuments Commission place it c. 1160: the ground plan forms a parallelogram of four squares, of which two belong to the nave, one to the chancel and one to the tower, each being about 21 feet long, the nave 21 feet 6 inches and the tower and chancel 18 feet wide; the church therefore consists of chancel and nave, south porch and a massive central tower with pinnacles, about 57 feet in height, containing 6 bells: the chancel has a window on either side, splayed towards the interior and adorned with zigzag mouldings: the east window is, externally, a triplet, with similar mouldings and slender shafts, the centre opening, however, alone being pierced: on the north side of the chancel is a plain oblong recess, perhaps an aumbry: in the south wall is a plain piscina, below which is a stone seat running all along the south side, the western end terminating in a massive elbow rest: the roof is grained and has a chamber above it: the tower, rising almost from the centre of the building, is supported on massive semicircular arches, springing from piers nearly 4 feet in thickness, with rounded columns at the angles and richly carved on the western side: the belfry story of the tower is surrounded on the exterior by an arcading of interlaced round-headed arches with zigzag mouldings, on short columns, with plain caps: the nave has two windows on each side similar to those in the chancel, under all the windows there runs externally a string-course of zigzag moulding: the west front is a curious and interesting example of Norman work, and exhibits an arcade of three arches, the centre arch forming the entrance being recessed with three rows of zigzag moulding; above there is a single window like the others: the font is plain and cylindrical, splaying out considerably towards the top: the north door of the nave is ornamented with double chevron moulding, on single shafts with carved caps; the south door has similar mouldings, with shafts in pairs and richly carved caps, but the porch is a restoration effected in 1862: the whole of the church is Norman, with the exception of the door leading off the belfry staircaae to the now destroyed rood loft, and an archway over the piscina, part of which was cut away to make a seat. which are both Early English: the roofs seem to have been lowered in 1684: in 1844 the chancel was repaired and the stone vaulting partly removed and renewed with brick: in 1862 a complete restoration was carried out, under the direction of Mr. G. E. Street R.A. when the roofs were raised to their original pitch, the stucco removed from part of the walls and the western entrance cleared of plaster: new buttresses had also previously been supplied to the chancel wall: the church has also been reseated with open benches and stalls placed in the choir, a massive stone pulpit and new communion table introduced, the east window being at the same time filled with stained glass: during the progress of the works, a rude carving in marble, representing the Virgin and Child, with attendant angels, was found buried in the step of a doorway, some ancient tiles were also met with, and a coffin slab bearing a floriated cross: there are monuments to the Rev. Charles Ashfield M.A.. vicar here 1802-30, and to his widow: in 1885 a new organ was erected by subscription: in 1888 a handsome brass lectern was presented, and in 1910 a new vestry added at a cost of £246 in memory of the Rev. Charles Henry Travers M.A.. vicar 1859-70, and the Rev. Charles Leslie Alexander, vicar 1870-81: there is a carved oak tablet recording the names of the men connected with the parish who fell in the Great War, 1914-18: there are 312 sittings: the churchyard was enlarged on the north-east side in 1901 at a cost of £1,200.
The church of the Holy Trinity, built in 1866, at the south end of the parish, by the Rev. C. H. Travers mentioned above, is a small and plain building, consisting of a simple nave, with a bell-cote over the western entrance, and will hold about 80 persons.
There are two Methodist chapels, one built in 1839, seating 400 persons, the other, built in 1903, with 420 sittings.
Stewkley was in Winslow Registration District from 1837 to 1935
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Stewkley from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Stewkley (St. Mary))
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Buckinghamshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Stewkley are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Buckinghamshire papers online:
Villages, Hamlets, &cLittlecote
A full transcript of the Visitation of Buckinghamshire, 1634 is online