27 December 2022

Galley Hill House: keeping
alive memories of local
legends in Stony Stratford

Galley Hill House on London Road … its name is a reminder of legends and myths in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

I was wondering yesterday about the name of Galley Hill, and whether the area took its name from the former gibbet and gallows that once stood on this hill above the southeast fringes of Stony Stratford.

The stories about the gallows on Galley Hill have been reinforced by Ian Freemantle’s bench sculpted from a fallen oak tree and his carved inscription referring to ‘this hilltop gallows.’

I could hardly expect the gallows, the galley or the long-gone gibbet to give its name to any of the streets or cul-de-sacs around Galley Hill. But apart from Gally Hill itself, the main road running through the estate, all the courts have romantic historical associations and take their names from the old ‘hundreds’ and ‘half-hundreds’ or early mediaeval divisions in the neighbouring counties of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.

Apart from the name of Galley Hill estate, the only other placename that hints at the story of a gallows outside Stony Stratford is found in the name of Galley Hill House on London.

But, for a newcomer like me, even this was not obvious at the beginning, because Galley Hill House is listed as Gallery Hill House on many sites, including Historic England and British Listed Buildings.

Galley Hill House is a Grade II listed building at No 108 London Road, on the south-west side of the road, facing the London Road allotments and the London Road Cemetery.

Galley Hill House was once a pair of houses built in the early 19th century. Today, it is a three-storey house, with two windows on each storey.

The house had a red-brick front, some vitrified headers and a slate roof. There are glazing bar sash windows with horns under flat arches. The right-hand entrance has been bricked up, while the left-hand entrance has a recent cambered arch and a plank door.

Although Galley Hill House once stood on its own, the end of the Victorian terrace of houses adjoining the house effectively makes this a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house.

The 1½-storey extension to the left is built of mixed red and yellow brick. It was originally built as a stable, but is now a garage.

No 108 London Road, Stony Stratford, is a freehold, semi-detached house. It was last sold in July 1998 for £150,000, but now a valuation of £722,000, ranking it as the second most expensive property in the immediate vicinity.

Galley Hill House is listed on many sites as Gallery Hill House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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