Campton & Chicksands


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1066 the Normans invade England: the Parish of Campton is devastated


In 1066 William of Normandy invaded England. After its decisive victory at Hastings his army swept Northwards and into Bedfordshire. As it advanced the army plundered and burnt. Campton along with many other villages was stripped of its possessions.

Once he was crowned, King William set about dispossessing all the Saxon thegns of their land and creating Norman manors which were granted to his knights and others who had supported him.

At least two manors were created in our Parish. One later became the possession of the Gilbertine Priory which was founded at Chicksands in 1154.


The Church rebuilt in Stone


The Normans, unlike the Danish invaders who preceded them, had been converted to Christianity. Once the country had recovered from the terror and destruction of the invasion, the Church grew in strength. Norman clerics were appointed to most parishes. The first priest recorded for Campton was Richard de Camelton (Richard of Campton).

For 200 years it would appear that worship continued in a wooded church, but towards the end of the 13th century this was replaced by a more noble structure built of rough hewn, brown red sandstone. (See separate notes on Church)


Centuries of agricultural life


The Normans were the last invaders from the Continent and from the 11th century onwards the village settled down to centuries of agricultural life.


Plague and death strikes in the mid 14th Century


In these medieval days there were no doctors, nurses and hospitals. When illness and disease came the villagers coped as best they could. The death rate was very high and few saw old age.

In 1348 they suffered the cruellest blow of all. They called it the pestilence, we know it as the Black Death.

Many Camptonians must have died when the plague reached this part of Bedfordshire. Probably the Rector, Thomas Atterbrigg died of it for he was succeeded by Ralph Snow in 1349.


The Dissolution of the Monasteries: The Osbourn Family arrive; The Manor House is built.


After the Black Death the village slowly recovered and eventually the land was being farmed much as before the plague. Labour was in short supply, wages rose and the lot of the villagers generally improved.

In 1536 Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and in 1539 the Gilbertine Priory at Chicksands ceased to be. The great house and all its lands passed into the King's hands. In 1578 this extensive property came into the possession of the Osbourn family.

The Priory Manor lands in Campton were leased to one Sir Thomas Palmer who turned out to be a "bad lot", and Queen Elizabeth had him executed for treason in 1560. The Queen granted the land to Joan Ventris and it was her family that built the manor house towards the end of the sixteenth century. (See separate notes on the Manor House).


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