04 April 2023
Long Buckby in rural
a long history, with three
churches and three pubs
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.
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