STONY-STRATFORD, in the hundred and deanery of Newport, is a market town 52 miles from London, lying on the great road to Chester and Liverpool. Till of late years the east side of Stony-Stratford, was in the parish of Wolverton, and the west side in Calverton. They are now two distinct parishes called St. Mary Magdalen, or the east side of Stony-Stratford, and St. Giles, or the west side. A market at this town was granted to the Veres in 1460: in 1663, Simon Bennet lord of the manor of Calverton, procured a charter for a market on Friday (which is the present market day), and four fairs; April 9, the Wednesday and Thursday in Whitsun-week, the Friday before Michaelmas, and All Saints day. A fair on the festival of St. Giles had been granted to the Veres in 1257, and another on the festival of St. Mary Magdalen in 1290. Browne Willis speaks of four fairs as held in his time at Stony-Stratford, April 11; Thursday in Whitsun-week, July 22, and Nov.1: there are now only three fairs: August 2 (being the festival of St. Mary Magdalen O.S.) for toys, &c. Oct. 11, and Nov. 12. The town has twice sustained much injury by fire; the first time was in the year 1736, when 53 houses were burnt down: a more destructive fire broke out on the sixth of May 1742, which consumed 113 houses and the church of St. Mary Magdalen, which has never been rebuilt: the tower, which escaped the flames, is yet standing. The damage was estimated at 10,000 l; the sum of 4293 l. was collected towards the loss by a brief, and nearly 3000 l. by subscriptions. According to the returns made to parliament under the Population Act in 1801, there were then 106 houses in the East-side parish containing 528 inhabitants, of whom 261 were males and 267 females; in the West-side parish 193 houses, containing 1125 inhabitants, of whom 5455 were males and 580 females.
At this town King Richard the Third, then Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by his friend the Duke of Buckingham, took possession of the person of the unfortunate young monarch Edward V. who was then with his attendants at an inn, and in his presence arrested Lord Richard Grey and Sir Thomas Vaughan.
The church of St. Giles on the west side of Stony Stratford, was originally built as a chantry chapel in 1451, and was endowed in 1482. The tower was not erected till some years afterwards, as appears by the will of John Edy, who in 1487 left a sum of money towards its building. This church (excepting the tower) was rebuilt in 1776 by Mr. Hiorne of Warwick: it exhibits a bad imitation of the Gothic style of architecture. The benefices of St. Giles and St. Mary Magdalen in Stony Stratford were consolidated in 1776: they were before two distinct curacies, in the patronage of the Bishop of Lincoln.
A gild at Stony-Stratford founded by John Edy and others was incorporated in the year 1481. There are several charities belonging to the town; the most important is one of 70 l. per annum for apprenticing children.
The cross erected at Stratford in memory of Eleanor Queen of Edward I. was demolished in the great civil war: it stood at the lower end of the town.
An act of parliament for paving and lighting the streets of Stony-Stratford, passed in 1801.