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Clipston

It was St Swithin's Day, the 15th of July 1880, a beautiful summer morning. As they busied themselves about their daily tasks, the villagers of Clipston had no idea of the calamity that was about to befall them. Halfway through the morning, the weather began to change. The wind increased from a breeze to a gale, the sky darkened and distant thunder rolled ever nearer. Then down came the rain in torrents. Hour after hour it rained, and the mown hay which lay in the fields was swept into the dykes and drains, completely blocking them. The brook could not contain the sudden increase in the flow of the water and before long, a swiftly rising tide was rushing along the village street.

A row of mud-walled dwellings were swept away by the swelling tide. The occupants had already fled their homes and no lives were lost. From the comparative safety of brick-built cottages, neighbours watched in terror from their bedroom windows, as doors were burst open and belongings were swept away by the surging water. Late in the day there was an abatement, and eventually the flood began to recede. The devastation revealed was heart-breaking, and the drying-out and mopping-up was a long and laborious process. Small wonder that this story was handed down from parent to child over many years.

In thinking of famous 'sons' of the village, mention must be made of Thomas Jarman (1776-1861), a composer of sacred music. His hymn tune, Lyngham, sometimes known as Nativity, has literally gone round the world. After her coronation in 1953, Queen Elizabeth II toured the Commonwealth. Turning on the radio to listen to a service she attended in Tonga, what a thrill it was to hear, O for a thousand tongues to sing, sung to Lyngham, Thomas Jarman's tune, composed in the village.

(The above extract from 'The Northamptonshire Village Book', compiled by the Northamptonshire Federation of Women's Institutes, is reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire)


(Updated 1 July 1997 - Maurice Kellner)