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Wicken

A typical Northamptonshire village, first mentioned in the Domesday Book. Between 1218 and 1282 it was divided into two parishes, named Wyke Dyve and Wyke Hamon, the brook running through the village being the boundary line.

There were two churches, St James's in Wyke Hamon and St John's in Wyke Dyve. The present St John's replaced a cedar wood church with a thatched roof. This was in Water Slade Lane, and is shown on a map of 1616. The work on St John's church was completed in 1770. The two parishes had been re-united in 1587 and called Wicken. Every year since then, on Ascension day, this has been celebrated, and there has never been a break in this tradition.

In the early 1800s Wicken Park was bought by Sir John Mordaunt, who sold it to Lord Penryhn in 1860. It is now a private school.

As well as the manor, there are four Tudor houses in the parish of Wicken. One was built by Sir John Mordaunt at Wicken Park, one is at Cross Tree Road, and one is next to the blacksmith's shop, probably built by the family farming Sparrow Lodge Farm. The one opposite the post office was firstly a hospital, then a prison, and for 150 years was the village bakehouse.

The village has changed a great deal, with new houses built and such places as the post office, bakehouse and the old forge becoming dwelling houses, but Wicken still retains the old-world atmosphere of a country 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)