[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]
"OAKLEY, a parish in the hundred of Stodden, county Bedford, 4 miles north west of Bedford, its post town, and 7 north east of Newport-Pagnell. It is a station on the Midland railway. The village, which is of small extent, is situated on the navigable river Ouse, which is here crossed by an old stone bridge of five arches. Disastrous floods occurred here in November, 1823, and in November, 1852, doing serious damage for miles around. The fishing in the river is preserved by the Duke of Bedford's order. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agriculture. It is a meet for the Oakley hounds. The surface is boldly undulating, and about half a mile from the village is Oakley Hill, commanding an extensive prospect. The tithes were commuted for land and a money payment under an Enclosure Act in 1803. The living is a vicarage annexed to that of Bromham, in the diocese of Ely- The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure, with a square tower containing five bells. The interior of the church has recently been restored. The parochial charities produce about £8 per annum. There is a free school for both sexes, built at the expense of the Duke of Bedford. The Dissenters have two places of worship. Oakley House occupies a central position in the parish, and is the seat of the Duke of Bedford who is lord of the manor."
Here is a Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1878, with 120 sittings. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
Church of England
The church of St. Mary is an ancient edifice of stone, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, porch and a western embattled tower, containing a clock and 5 bells: under a canopy in the south wall is a mutilated recumbent figure : the chancel retains a piscina, and in the churchyard are the remains of a cross. The register dates from the year 1560. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
Kindly transcribed by Patrick Benham here is a presentation note given to his wife's greatgrandfather, Alfred Chappell, on the occasion of his leaving the parish of St Mary's, Oakley, in April 1897.
The manufacture of pillow lace and rush plaiting is carried on. The charities are small. Portions of the parish lie very low, and consequently if there is any influx of water it is inundated as was the case in November, 1823, when the water rose 6 feet above the roads and 16 feet above the customary level of the mill pool; another flood, Nov. 1852, did serious damage both in this and the surrounding villages; and again in 1876. From the summit of Oakley Hill, an elevated landscape is extensive and very beautiful. Oakley House is a modern brick mansion, charmingly situated in grounds of about 40 acres, on the east bank of the river Ouse, and commanding an exquisite view over a fine vale of pasture; it is approached from the high road by a carriage drive, and is surrounded by lawns and shrubberies; it is the property of the Duke of Bedford, lord of the manor and sole landowner. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
You can see pictures of Oakley which are provided by: