The village name is a compound of Brythonic and Anglo Saxon origins, which is a common occurrence in this part of the country. The Brythonic breg means ‘hill’, and the Anglo Saxon hyll also means ‘hill’. In the Domesday Book of 1086 the village was recorded as Brichelle. The affix ‘Great’ was added in the 12th century to differentiate from nearby Bow Brickhill and Little Brickhill.
Great Brickhill was described in 1806 in Magna Britannia as follows:
Great-Brickhill, in the hundred and deanery of Newport, lies about two miles and a half to the south-east of Fenny Stratford. The manor was anciently in the Beauchamps, from whom it passed by female heirs to the Bassets and Greys. Richard Grey, Earl of Kent, sold it in 1514 to Sir Charles Somerset, of whose son, Sir George it was purchased in 1549, by the Duncombes: from this family it passed, by female heirs, to the Bartons and Paunceforts, and is now the property of Philip Duncombe Pauncefort esq.
The manor of Smewnes-Grange, in this parish, became the property of Woburn Abbey, in 1293. King Edward VI granted it to Edward Stanton esq. of whose descendant it was purchased in 1792, (under an act of parliament which had passed the preceding year,) by the present proprietor, Edward Hanmer esq. of Stockgrove. This manor extends into the parish of Soulbury: the manor-house, which was built by Edward Stanton, the grantee, within a moated site near the River Ouzel, has long been suffered to go to decay.
In the parish church are memorials of the families of Duncombe, Barton, Pauncefort, and Chase. The advowson of the rectory is annexed to the manor. This parish was inclosed by an act of parliament, passed in 1776, when an allotment of land was assigned to the rector, in lieu of tithes, and an allotment to the poor in lieu of their right of cutting furze.
The Victoria History of the Counties of England provides substantially more detail on the manorial record, but does not mention the Beauchamps (apart from one mention of ‘the wife of the Earl of Warwick’).
In 1643 Great Brickhill was touched by the English Civil War. The Parliamentarian Earl of Essex and his army camped in the village for a month which gives rise to one of the village’s most noteworthy buildings known as “Cromwell’s Cottages” where Essex’s men were reputedly billeted. Great Brickhill was considered a strategic site due to its elevation and proximity to Watling Street (now the A5 road), at the time the main approach road to London from the north. However, there were no battles or even skirmishes here.
Modern Great Brickhill
The high brick wall, reminiscent of that at nearby Woburn, which runs for some distance adjacent to the road, now neglected and ruined in places, surrounds the 70-acre (280,000 m²) park which once housed the principal seat of the Duncombe family, Great Brickhill Manor. The last manor house to occupy this park was built circa 1835. This house was demolished in 1937 after serving for a time as Stratton Park Preparatory School.
The Duncombe family (the head of whom since 1859 has been a Baronet) continue to live in the village and own the estate; however, they now reside at what used to be the old Rectory near the church. The parish church of St. Mary the Virgin is a Grade II* listed building, dating back to the 13th century.
Another large house in the area was Stockgrove, built in the 1920s on the site of a much older mansion (see Magna Britannia above) this Georgian-style house was built by the industrialist Sir Ferdinand Kroyer-Kielberg. The estate was divided and sold in the 1950s. The house for a time became a ‘Special School’ and in the 1990s was divided into luxury apartments.
Great Brickhill today has only one pub, The Old Red Lion, and a thriving sports scene centred around the successful cricket & tennis clubs.
The village boasts excellent local education in the form of both Little Ashes Pre-School and High Ash Church of England Combined School. Little Ashes is graded as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and runs term-time mornings from the Parish Hall site for up to 26 student between 2 and 4 years old. High Ash is a mixed, voluntary controlled, Church of England school. It takes children from the age of four through to the age of twelve and has approximately 240 pupils.
much of the content for this page is sourced from Wikipedia.