04 April 2023
In my country walks and explorations of the villages of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, I spent some time one afternoon last week in Long Buckby. I often pass Long Buckby on the train between Milton Keynes and Lichfield, Tamworth or Birmingham, but I first got to see the village of Long Buckby on the bus while I visiting Rugby and the neighbouring villages of Watford, Yelvertoft and Crick.
Long Buckby is hill top village in Northamptonshire, midway between Northampton and Rugby, each about 14 km (9 miles) away, and only two miles from Watford Gap on the M1. It is a large parish of about 5,000 people and includes the two smaller settlements of Murcott and Buckby Wharf.
Buckby Wharf is on the Grand Union Canal near the Leicester Arm junction. The railway station in Long Buckby has links to London and Birmingham.
Long Buckby has a history that goes back to the Vikings, when northern, central and eastern England was part of the ‘Danelaw’.
The village name is of Nordic origin, with ‘-by’ meaning a settlement or village, while ‘Buck’ is derived from ‘Bec’ or ‘becker’ in old Norse, for a ‘stream’ or ‘brook.’ Other sources suggest the name means ‘Bukki’s farm’ or ‘settlement,’ or ‘Bucca’s farm’ or ‘settlement,’ or even the ‘he-goat farm’ or ‘settlement.’
The village was recorded in the Domesday Book as Buchebei, although there is no reference then to a church or priest in Long Buckby.
The mound of a mediaeval castle, probably built by the de Quincy family in the 12th century, can still be seen today behind the former vicarage. The castle may have been built of earth and timber ca 1150, and it was occupied until some time after 1200. The surviving earthworks, known locally as ‘The Mounts,’ include an oval ring surrounded by a ditch.
The village is first described as Long Buckby during the Elizabethan era, when the prefix Long is used to describe the length of the village.
The village once had a thriving shoemaking industry, but is now mainly a residential village.
Long Buckby was once a thriving industrial village. A woollen industry was established in the 17th century, and Long Buckby became a centre of weaving and wool-combing. This went into decline after 1800 and was replaced by a thriving shoemaking industry. This was enhanced by the arrival of the Grand Union Canal nearby in the early 19th century, when Long Buckby had a busy wharf.
Long Buckby railway station opened in 1881 upon the Northampton Loop Line. Until the mid-1960s Long Buckby had its own goods marshalling yard. The station as the nearest stop to Althorp was the final stop on the rail journey during the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.
Since the 1960s, the building of the M1 nearby spurred the expansion of the village and it changed from a rural village into a residential and commuter village.
The shoemaking industry in Long Buckby went into gradual decline in the 20th century, and had died out by 2000. Maclaren, the pushchair manufacturer, was based in Long Buckby until 2000, when the company went into receivership and manufacturing was moved to China.
Saint Lawrence’s Church, the Church of England parish church in Long Buckby, is a Grade II* listed building and stands on the north side of Church Street. The parish registers survive from 1558.
The church has a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch and west tower. The church tower dates from the 12th century, and the rest of the church was built later. The aisles were added in 1774, and there a stone dated 1774 below the second window from the west end of north aisle.
The mediaeval church was restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1862 and by William Bassett-Smith in 1883-1887, when the aisles were given their Gothic appearance.
The church is built of coursed ironstone rubble and ashlar. The chancel has three-light Decorated windows in the east end and with windows in the north and south sides have 19th century tracery.
There is a blocked round-headed door at the east end of the south aisle. The nave has a clerestory with 19th century circular windows, and the south porch also dates from the 19th century.
The three-stage battlemented west tower has shallow offset buttresses separated by shafts.
I did not get inside the church when I visited Long Buckby last week, but I understand the interior features include a piscina with a cusped arch in the chancel and a three-seat sedilia with 19th century cusped heads, a double-chamfered chancel arch, with the inner arch resting on polygonal responds.
The East Window by Evans of Shrewsbury commemorates a vicar who died in 1858. The tower has a clock and five bells dating from 1624 to 1814.
There is a tradition in the village that Long Buckby once had a second church. Various wills in the early 16th century refer to a church dedicated to Saint Gregory, but this may have been a chantry chapel in Saint Lawrence’s Church.
At one time, it was said more people attened nonconformist services in Long Buckby than went to the parish church on Sundays, and there is a long, strong tradition of Nonconformity in the village. The United Reform Church can be traced back to a Congregational chapel built in 1707, and the present church was built in 1771. It is the oldest Nonconformist chapel in Northamptonshire.
The Baptist Chapel was built in 1846 and stands on the site of a former public house, once known as the Bishop’s Blaze.
At one time, Long Bucky had 15 pubs; today, there are three has three: the Pigeon, the Old King’s Head and the Badger’s Arms, a micro-pub.
Long Buckby is part of a united benefice along with Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Watford, All Saints’, West Haddon, and Saint Michael and All Angels, Winwick.
Each parish retains its own church building. Sunday services in Saint Lawrence’s Church, Long Buckby, are at 10:30 on most Sundays.
The vicar has retired and there is currently a vacancy.
This final week in Lent is known as Holy Week, and this is Tuesday in Holy Week. In these two weeks of Passiontide this year, Passion Week and Holy Week, I am reflecting in these ways:
1, Short reflections on the Stations of the Cross, illustrated by images in Saint Dunstan’s and All Saints’ Church, the Church of England parish church in Stepney, in the East End of London, and the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Francis de Sales in Wolverton, which I visited for the first time last month;
2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary adapted in the Church of England;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
Station 10, Jesus is stripped of his garments:
The Tenth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus is stripped of his garments.’
In this station in Stepney, Christ , the Cross is not to be seen. One of the five men stripping Christ of his clothes seems to be embarrassed as he places his right hand on Christ’s left shoulder, almost in a gesture of doomed solidarity, while one of the two soldiers in the scene is knelling at a block and appears to be preparing the nails for the Crucifixion.
The words below read: ‘Jesus is Stripped of his Clothes.’
In Station 10 in Wolverton, two soldiers are involved in stripping Christ as they stand on the Cross below their fee.
Did these two or three exchange any conversation, any words, in the course of this encounter?
Did they realise how each other was exposed and vulnerable in this moment?
Was there a mutual understanding of the embarrassment each one is going through?
How often do we seek to cover ourselves in ways that cloak and disguise our embarrassment and our feelings of vulnerability?
Yet, as Saint Paul reminds us, ‘we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it’ (I Timothy 6: 7).
The words below Station X in Wolverton read: ‘Jesus is Stripped’.
John 12: 20-36 (NRSVA):
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
27 ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ 35 Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)
The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Good Neighbours in Times of War: a View from Europe.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by the Ven Dr Leslie Nathaniel, Archdeacon of the East, Germany and Northern Europe, with an adaptation of his contribution to USPG’s Lent Course ‘Who is our neighbour,’ which I have edited for USPG.
The USPG Prayer Diary today (Tuesday 4 April 2023, Tuesday in Holy Week) invites us to pray:
Let us pray for internally displaced peoples. May they find a safe resting place and support in adapting to a strange surroundings and new neighbours.
Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:
give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father.
Stations of the Cross in Stepney, Wolverton and Stony Stratford (Photographs: Patrick Comerford)
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org