Wolverton is a constituent town of Milton Keynes (which is in north Buckinghamshire, England). It is at its northern edge, between Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell. It is the administrative seat of Wolverton and Greenleys civil parish.
Recorded in Domesday, Wolverton suffered badly in the Enclosures, before reinventing itself as a railway town in the industrial revolution. Today, Wolverton is a thriving focus for the northern edge of Milton Keynes.
The town name is an Old English language word, and means 'Wulfhere's estate'. It was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wluerintone. The original Wolverton was a medieval settlement just north and west of today's town. This site is now known as Old Wolverton, although the medieval village is all but gone. The Ridge and Furrow pattern of agriculture can still be seen in the nearby fields and the Saxon church of the Holy Trinity (rebuilt in 1819) still sits next to the Norman Motte and Bailey site. Only the earth mound remains of the Norman castle, though the Saxon tower still stands as central to the rebuilt church, clad in the early 19th century 'Anglo-Norman' style. Next door to the church is a house built in 1729 which later became the vicarage; the front door has stonework from the nearby, demolished manor house of the 16th century including the de Longueville family coat of arms, and pieces from the earlier church building. A talbot, another symbol of the family, once graced the side-entrance which now marks the boundary between the ground floor of the house and its downstairs toilet.
The manor of Wolverton was held by the de Wolverton family until the mid-fourteenth century. Sir John de Wolverton died in 1349 leaving an infant son, Ralph, who died in 1351, and two daughters. The elder daughter Margaret or Margery, married John le Hunt, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, and had in turn one daughter, Joan le Hunt, through whom Wolverton passed by inheritance to the Longueville or Longville family.
Of the historic village itself, only field patterns marking a deserted village remain, along with two village ponds. The desertion of Old Wolverton was due to enclosure of the large strip cultivation fields into small "closes" by the local landlords, the Longville family, who turned arable land over to pasture. By 1654, the family had completely enclosed the parish. With the end of the feudal system, the peasants had lost their land and tillage/grazing rights and were forced to find other work or starve. Thus Old Wolverton was reduced from about thirty peasant families in the mid 16th century to almost none, within the space of a century.
The newer area, built about 1 km to the east for the railways in the 19th century, assumed the Wolverton name.
Today, the site of the medieval village is bisected by the Grand Union Canal: the name "Old Wolverton" has been given to the area east of the canal and that to the west (which includes the watermill site) is called Wolverton Mill.
The Grand Union Canal passes around the northern and eastern edge of the modern town. The canal originally crossed the River Great Ouse by descending 10 metres to the river by nine locks, crossing the river on the level and ascended by eight locks on the other side. This was time consuming for navigators and subject to disruption in time of flood. It seems inevitable, therefore, that there were some facilities to serve the barges at least until the Iron Trunk Aqueduct was built across the river to Cosgrove, but little remains except a wharf and a pub.
In 1846 the L & B became part of the London and North Western Railway, who subsequently decided that locomotives would be built and repaired at Crewe. The last locomotives at Wolverton were built in 1863 and repaired until 1877 after which it concentrated on carriages including railway owned road vehicles. Until recently the Works was the home of the Royal Train fleet. During the Second World War, the Works were used to build parts for Lee-Enfield rifles, bomber plane timber frames, Hawker Typhoon wings, Horsa Gliders, and ambulances. Like many older industrial sites, camouflage paint from the period can still be seen on the factory buildings. A pillbox remains opposite the Works Wall.
The railway built some 200 houses for its workers by 1844 along with schools, a church and a market.
During the 1980s, the decline of the railway works led to the diminution of Wolverton's tight-knit railway community; and at the same time to its enrichment via immigration from other parts of the UK and from many parts of the world. People from South Asia became particularly prominent and transformed the town's shopping facilities, rejuvenating the corner shops (as was common in small English towns) and providing access to South Asian produce which would have previously required a trip to Bletchley's Duncombe Street. Today the Anglican church of Saint George faces a mosque that is located in a former post office sorting office and what was the 'Empire' cinema. Wolverton remained a relatively cheap place to live in Milton Keynes through to the second half of the first decade of the 21st century, when it began to attract immigrants from Poland following that country's accession to the European Union. It has a variety of foodstores (Polish mini-market, Asian produce general stores) as well as a variety of restaurants (Asian, African, Caribbean, Lebanese, Chinese, traditional English).
The town has a loyal group of residents who document the heritage of the town through the Living Archive Project and through influencing planning policy to preserve it cultural and historic features. There are many opportunities to be involved in the community through such iniatives as the community orchard (repurposed allotments), the urb farm, the annual scarecrow festival and the lantern parade at Christmas(running since 1990). There is a brass band and light orchestra and a programme of varied community arts events including Music, Dance, Film and Drama Community Arts Programme (Madcap). Madcap became the Creed Street Theatre & Arts Centre trust in March 2013, developing its sustainability as a community asset and independent fringe arts venue providing access to amateur and professional artistic experiences, events and shows. It is now a focal point of the community and a preserved Grade ii listed building on the gateway to the town and continues to operate as one of the oldest charities in Milton Keynes. As of January 2014, however, it has been temporarily closed while management and financial issues are resolved and is currently (February 2014) no longer in operation. There are two working men's clubs still functioning, reminders of earlier days of widespread manufacturing employment in the Works.
Wolverton formed a civil parish within the Stratford and Wolverton Rural District from 1894 to 1919, which also contained the parishes of Calverton, Stony Stratford East and Stony Stratford West. The parishes had previously been part of the Potterspury Rural Sanitary District until it was disbanded in 1894. In 1919 these parishes, combined with New Bradwell, became part of the Stratford and Wolverton Urban District (renamed the Wolverton Urban District in 1920). This urban district would remain in existence until 1974 when it became part of the Borough of Milton Keynes. Today, Wolverton is the larger element of the modern parish of Wolverton and Greenleys.
Birth, marriage and death certificates can now be ordered online from Buckinghamshire County Council. The full postal address is Buckinghamshire Register Office, County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1YU.
The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UU) holds
In Buckinghamshire, as with other counties in England and Wales, the location of offices where Births, Marriages and Deaths were registered has altered with other changes in local government. A list of the location of Registration Offices since civil registration began in 1837 has been prepared by GENUKI (Genealogy: United Kingdom and Ireland). The table also gives details of when each Registration Office was in existence. In the case of Buckinghamshire, the same registration offices were used for the censuses since 1851.
Nineteenth Century Local Administration
English Jurisdictions is a webpage provided by FamilySearch which analyses every ecclesiastical parish in England at the year 1851. It provides, with the aid of outline maps, the date at which parish records and bishops transcripts begin, non-conformist denominations with a chapel within the parish, the names of the jurisdictions in charge: county, civil registration district, probate court, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, church province; and links to FamilySearch historical records, FamilySearch Catalog and the FamilySearch Wiki. Two limitations: only England, and at the year 1851.
During the 19th century two bodies, the Poor Law Union and the Sanitary District, had responsibility for governmental functions at a level immediately above that covered by the civil parish. In 1894 these were replace by Rural and Urban Districts. These were elected bodies, responsible for setting local property assessments and taxes as well as for carrying out their specified duties. Thses districts continued in operation until 1974. Urban districts for larger municipalities were called "Municipal Boroughs" and had additional powers and obligations.
Poor Law Unions, established nationally in 1834, combined parishes together for the purpose of providing relief for the needy who had no family support. This led to the building of '"union poorhouses" or "workhouses" funded by all the parishes in the union. The geographical boundaries established for the individual Poor Law Unions were employed again when Registration Districts were formed three years later. In 1875 Sanitary Districts were formed to provide services such as clean water supply, sewage systems, street cleaning, and the clearance of slum housing. These also tended to follow the same geographical boundaries, although there were local alterations caused by changes in population distribution.
Online Historical References