Stoke Mandeville deserted village and church
PART OF THE HS2 HISTORIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT PROJECT
READ OUR PAMPHLET
– in print
Stoke Mandeville was included in the society's
Response to the HS2 Environmental Statement in February 2014.
Click here to read
the section on Stoke Mandeville.
THE SITE of the deserted village of Stoke Mandeville has been a major focus for society
members active around the HS2 issue for two reasons:
First because this was an important Saxon settlement well before it appeared in Domesday Book
in 1086, and the remains of its church and churchyard may encapsulate 800 years of village history.
And secondly because the scale of destruction planned by HS2 will be total: four parallel
rail lines on a low embankment will remove all traces of the village, church and churchyard.
LEFT: The derelict old church of St Mary the Virgin as it was in the late 19th century.
BELOW: This heap of rubble is all that remains today – but beneath it will
be vital archaeological evidence.
THE VILLAGE SITE TODAY
The deserted village site stands among fields half a mile south of today's Stoke Mandeville. A heap of
rubble is all that remains of the 12th-century church of St Mary the Virgin. Around it are earthbanks, watercourses
and silted-up ponds – showing where once were buildings, mill races and fishponds... perhaps a moat.
The county council's ‘Blueprint for HS2’ has suggested that this is ‘one of the most
archaeologically important [sites] along the entire phase 1 route’ of HS2 between London and Birmingham.
The construction plans for the HS2 high-speed rail line require all this to be swept away by the
bulldozers. The line itself will pass exactly through what remains of the Saxon chancel arch of the church, then
over the most likely site of the village mill.
WHAT SOCIETY MEMBERS HAVE DONE
Since plans for HS2 were announced in 2011, members of the society have been working first to try to
save the deserted village site from destruction, then at a minimum to ensure that there is a full, professional
investigation and excavation before bulldozers move in.
View the following pages to see the work we have done:
- The History of the deserted village
Our first task was to trace the history of the settlement by research in the county records.
- Surveys of the site
Surveys were conducted to look for the foundations of earlier buildings and try to identify the likely
site of the mill mentioned in Domesday book.
- The effects of HS2
We watched plans for the line where it crosses the deserted village site, attempting unsuccessfully
to persuade HS2 to minimise the damage.
- The Wills of local people
Over the past 500 years local Wills, researched by the society's documentary research group, have provided
evidence for the shape of the village.
- Plans for a Stoke Mandeville Legacy Garden
We are working with the parish council, parochial church council and local community to persuade HS2 Limited
to provide an appropriate site for the estimated 2,600 burials that will have to be moved from the old churchyard.