Clophill St Marys CofE lower school

Local and Community History Month: May 2021

Local and Community History month is organised by the Historical Assocation to raise awareness of a strong community and to highlight local history. 

Our aim for Local and Community History month is to share an historical fact about Clophill, every school day in May, to encourage everyone to enjoy learning about the history of our local area. 

Each fact has been created by Mrs. Arnold, our History Co-ordinator using the following sources:

Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service

Clophill History

We also aim to 'inspire, enable and encourage' others to get involved with local community events and landmarks. 

A fact a day in May.......................

Tuesday 4th May  Clophill is pretty old as far as history goes.  In fact, it is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 around 935 years ago, when it was known as Clopelle.  The name means "tree-stump hill" and it contained only two or three hamlets - Beadlow, Cainhoe and possibly Moddry.  The Doomsday Book, commissioned by William the Conqueror, records a population of eleven for Clophill.  This would only have included heads of household, so the number could be multiplied by at least four to include wives and children.  With this in mind, the total population would have been around fifty, so still quite a small settlement!  
Wednesday 5th May

What do you know about the Romans?  Roman remains have, in fact, been found on the Clophill parish boundary at the south edge of Pedley Wood and crop marks suggest the presence of a small settlement there!  A 4th century coin was found at the south-west end of the village and the High Street/Shefford Road is also presumed to be a Roman road!  So, whilst history only mentions Clopelle 935 years ago, there were people living here long before that and the Romans were more than likely some of them!

Thursday 6th May

To the south of Clophill, across the Flit valley, are the remains of a motte and bailey castle.  It was probably built soon after the Norman Conquest (1066).  The large mound is the motte, built by making use of the natural sloping ground.  On it was built a tower (or keep) to give more height and to further intimidate the native English!  The bailey was a yard, surrounded by an embankment and ditch which provided a first line of protection.  It contained barracks, stables, livestock and other buildings for storing food, weapons and equipment.  If attacked, the occupants could retreat to the motte.  The castle didn’t survive for long though; by 1374 it was abandoned and in ruins, possible as a result of the Black Death in 1348.

Friday 7th May 

The Flying Horse public house is a familiar and popular landmark of Clophill, even having the roundabout named after it!  It was first recorded in 1731 in the will of it’s owner, but it is more than likely even older than that.  It was an important coaching inn on the A6 and would have had stables for horses.  Local history claims it may have even been a stopover for real life highwaymen! 

“The legend of Dick Turpin may be a myth but there were highwaymen at the Flying Horse in 1751.  On the day of the Ampthill Fair, 21st April, three men came to the Flying Horse where the publican was Abraham Perrin.  They pretended to be horse dealers who travelled from fair to fair.  They spoke of their fear of highwaymen…...About four o’clock they left and started robbing travellers on the Ampthill to Bedford Road near Houghton Conquest.” (https://clophillhistory.mooncarrot.org.uk)

It is reported they robbed at least 7 people and were spotted by a number of locals, although it is unknown whether they were ever caught!