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BARTON IN THE CLAY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1972.

[Transcribed information from Arthur Mee's King's England Series - Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire]

"BARTON IN THE CLAY, a parish and a thriving village, it lies beneath the Chiltern hills along the busy road from Bedford to Luton. By the main road is the old Bull inn; and tucked away in lane and end are several charming thatched houses At outlying Faldo is an old house surrounded by a moat, but this was formerly a detached part of Higham Gobion, and one of the two linked manors of Westhey and Faldo. Barton has a long history. Excavations in 1954 found on the top of the hills signs of a circular enclosure once a prehistoric shrine, and a later Bronze Age one nearby. Mediaeval Barton belonged to the great abbey of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, whose records tell us that in 1140 the stock on the home farm (site of the present Rectory farm) consisted of 200 sheep, 11 cows, and two plough-teams; and a century later they give the name of each villager, with the duties he owed thc abbey, including boon work in harvest, and carrying-duty (if to London he got a penny for subsistence, but if from Barton to the abbey he received a pasty there). Later on the manor came to the Willes family, their manor house still stands in Manor Road, near a bend, and endwise to the road. In 1807 Edward Willes decided to endow an existing (probably precarious) school, which was functioning in the schoolmaster's house east of the main road. This house, still standing at the time of writing, is to be replaced by a branch of the County Library: in a small room 40 children (including some from Higham and Pulloxhill) were taught till 1878, when the first extension was built. The money for the extension was raised partly by fees for digging coprolites, once a thriving industry, but now, like straw-plaiting, a thing of the past. A more recent Bartonian, Harry Arnold, sometime Mayor of Luton, gave Barton its recreation ground. Meanwhile as traffic grew, thc importance of the main road had increased Barton hill to the south was very steep, and the old road wound from side to side; it was no doubt rough and rutted, and in 1665 an outside passenger fell from a coach here. The cutting which made the present straight road through south Barton and north Streatley was the work of the turnpike trust in 1832, when the old road was sold off. Near the church, south-east of the village, is an old rectory, basically late Tudor but much altered. From this the rector Gabriel Moore was ejected in 1646, Robert Viney being intruded in his stead. The church is mainly of the 13th century, with a later tower; it has fine massive arcades, and a splendid (though restored) roof with winged angels, apostles, and carved bosses. The font has Norman cable moulding round the rim, but the bowl has been carved later. Part of the chancel is paved with mediaeval tiles, there are on the wall brasses to Richard Brey, 1396, Philip de Lee, 1349, and an unknown civilian; and there are also piscina, three sedilia, and an Easter sepulchre. Thc pews have linenfold panelling.

[Description(s) transcribed by Martin Edwards ©2003 and later edited by Colin Hinson ©2013]
[from Arthur Mee's King's England Series - Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire]