NORTH-CRAWLEY, in the hundred and deanery of Newport, lies about three miles and a half to the west of Newport-Pagnell, on the borders of Bedfordshire. At this place was an ancient monastery, dedicated to St. Firmin, which is mentioned in the Survey of Domesday; it was destroyed or fell to decay so long before the general dissolution of monasteries, that no notice of it has been found in any records subsequent to the above-mentioned survey. There are three manors in this parish, all of which are now the property of William Lowndes Stone esq. [Footnote: An act of parliament, passed in 1755, to enable William Lowndes esq. to take the name of Stone, in addition to that of Lowndes.] of Brightwell, in Oxfordshire. The principal of these, called the manor of Great-Crawley, was held under the honor of Gloucester, by the Filiols, and passed by female heirs to the families of Bohun, Owen, and Southwell. It was purchased of the latter in the reign of King Henry VIII. by Sir Robert Dormer, and of his descendants in 1704, by Francis Duncombe, who sold it to William Lowndes esq. in 1724. A second manor (now called Broughtons) was in the family of Broughton from 1219 to 1529. It passed afterwards by successive purchases to the families of Morton, Stanton, Knight, and Gregory: the heirs of Gregory sold it to Mr. Lowndes. The Manor of Hellows belonged successively to the Latimers and Nevilles, and was at a later period in the families of Apreece, Smith, and Duncombe: Mr. Lowndes purchased of the Duncombes.
The parish church is a spacious and handsome Gothic structure, dedicated to St. Firmin, the patron of the ancient monastery at this place; the chancel was built by Peter de Guildford, rector of the parish, who died in 1321. Under the east window on the outside is the following inscription:
"Petrus cancellum tibi dat Firmine novellum
Ut cum lauderis Deo, Petri memories."
In the chancel are some memorials of the family of Hacket; the rood-loft remains, between the nave and chancel: the screen is of wood, richly carved and decorated with figures of saints, &c. under Gothic canopies.
The advowson of the rectory, which was formerly in the families of Hacket and Carew, is now the property of Mr. Lowndes Stone. This parish has been inclosed by an act of parliament, passed in 1772, when an allotment of land was assigned to the rector, in lieu of tithes.