Drayton Parslow is an old village. It was certainly here in 1086 when it appeared in the Doomsday Book and had a recorded population of just 15 people. The ‘Parslow’ element of the village’s name is a corruption of the name of an early Norman lord of the manor.
The original settlement was probably situated in the area around the 14th century Holy Trinity Church. At some point a satellite settlement sprang up further down the hill around what is now the junction of Main Road and Highway and became known as Lower End, whilst the top end of the village became known as Hog End or, more recently, Church End. Until the Victorian era the vast majority of the villagers worked on farms or small holdings within the parish or ran businesses which supported those agricultural workers and the pattern of village life changed little from one generation to the next.
There was little in the way of large scale industrial activity in the village over the centuries, but during the 17th and 18th centuries a bell foundry flourished on the site of what is now Bell Close. The foundry, run by various members of the Chandler family, supplied many fine bells to local churches and to churches further away. Until Bell Close was developed pieces of slag iron could still be found on the ground there. Sadly, only Holy Trinity’s Sanctus bell is a Chandler bell.
During the Victorian era more villagers began to work away from the village and agriculture. Many villagers found work on the railway at Bletchley. By the beginning of the Second World War this move away from agricultural work had gained pace with many of the 300 or so inhabitants employed at the brickworks in Newton Longville or on the railway. During the Second World War ‘The Camp’ was established at the lower end of the village around the area where Prospect Close now stands. It was built as an extension to the famous code breaking centre at Bletchley Park, but it was also used as a prisoner of war camp, a hostel for displaced persons, and, after the war, as a hostel for workers from the brick works and as a training centre for the Post Office.
The Modern Village
A large number of houses have been built in the village over the last 60 years and the village today has over 600 inhabitants. The majority of the new properties have been built to the south east of the village with the development of North Road, Bell Close and New Road and along Main Road. Very few villagers now work in agriculture. Instead, most adults commute to jobs in Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and London. There is little employment within the village: just a handful of businesses, including farming and equestrian businesses. Although the number of farms has reduced since the Second World War, and the type of agriculture has changed significantly, the agricultural activity and the equestrian businesses have ensured that the village has retained its rural setting and largely rural character.
The village has a number of facilities which are highly valued and are the focus of much of the community activities in the village. These include The Three Horseshoes Public House, Holy Trinity Church, the Baptist Chapel, Greenacre Hall, the Sports and Social Club, and a recreation field with playground, multi-use games area (MUGA) and cricket pitch. Education from Reception to Year 2 is provided by the village school. The village also contains a number of allotments which are in high demand.
A number of fine buildings have survived in the village, largely buildings that relate to the agricultural activity of the past or to worship. Many of these buildings are ‘Listed’ as being of historic and/or architectural value. In addition much of the area around Main Road and Church End has been designated a Conservation Area.
The Built Environment and its Landscape Setting
The village is situated on the north-eastern slope of a low hill and on the highest point of the hill sits Holy Trinity Church providing the most prominent landmark. The area around the Church and Old Rectory, along with the area around the allotments at Church End (including Manor Farm and Kingsland), the triangular area bounded by the War Memorial, the pub and 5-15 Main Road, and the area between the Recreation Ground and the Victorian house known as The Lodge make the strongest contribution to the built character of the village.
The vast majority of the dwellings are two storey houses, although there are some bungalows, a few older three storey houses and a small block of flats. Most of the buildings are faced in brick with pitched roofs of slate or grey/brown tiles. Some white/pale render or paint is also used. Trees, hedges and open green areas around the residential properties make a significant contribution to the appearance of the village and help maintain its rural character.
There are few locations where large parts of the village can be seen in one view. The trees, hedges and topography generally restrict views of buildings in the village to small groups. The most significant views of the village are along Main Road approaching the village from the south-west from the junction with the Mursley-Stewkley road, from the north-west approaching the village along the bridleway (Phillips Lane) from Mursley and from the east along Main Road from the crossroads. The gently undulating, agricultural landscape and a scattering of small copses provide the setting for the village with important views out from the village across that landscape towards the Brickhills to the east, towards Stewkley to the south and towards Mursley and Milton Keynes to the north.