The history of Clophill, Bedfordshire, UK
Including historical descriptions, maps and statistical analysis.

Lost Heritage

Here is a list of some of the buildings and other objects that have disappeared in recent years.

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Old Bridge

Clophill bridge, on the south side of the village green, formerly carried the main road north from St Albans and Luton towards Bedford over the River Flit.

The main bridge was by-passed in 1937-38 and closed to traffic in 1957.

From its style the bridge was probably built in the 18th century. It is very similar to Chicksands bridge, and are likely to be close in date or maybe even built by the same masons.

After having served Clophill so well for several centuries it was demolished and replaced.

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St Mary's School

In 1871 the National Society (C. of E.) provided money to build schools to accommodate 185 infants and juniors. Clophill National School was opened by a short service on Friday 5th January 1872.

The new building has developed since 1973 and it remains a Voluntary Aided (church) school. Clophill became a Voluntary-Controlled Lower School for pupils aged 5 to 9 in 1975 and moved to a new building in 1976 in the High Street. All that remains of the old building is the bell tower in the grounds.

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St Mary's Church

It was built in the Gothic style in 1848-9 and described by Nikolaus Pevsner as "an archaeologically convincing job, i.e. a church which the casual visitor might regard as genuine."

In 1964 dry rot was discovered and an extensive scheme of works over the next five years included re-roofing. For some reason, the nave clerestory was removed along with the crenellated parapet of the south aisle, completely changing the appearance of the church frontage. Presumably, this was done for cost reasons but it has left the building looking sadly utilitarian.

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Old Church

Built in the Perpendicular Gothic style (i.e. from about 1350) the building comprised the chancel, nave, south porch and west tower. On completion of the new church in the High Street (1848) the old one was converted for use as a mortuary chapel as the graveyard remained open. In 1956 the lead was stolen from the roof and building was allowed to fall into ruin. (The old photo was taken C1900.)

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Old Forge

Next to the house in the High Street called the Old Forge used to stand a smithies shop. In the old photo you can see a circle on the ground which was used to put the metal tyres on to the wooden wheels. It is still there now.

A hundred years ago Arthur Cakebread was the blacksmith.

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Wesleyan Church

In 1814 a Wesleyan Chapel was built on the west side of the A6 (actually in Maulden but always called Clophill Chapel).

It was pulled down just before World War II in preparation for the new stretch of road which was eventually to carry the traffic away from Clophill Bridge.

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Primitive Methodist Chapel,
Silsoe Road.

In 1853 a Primitive Methodist Chapel in Luton Road (now Old Silsoe Road) was registered by John Symonds Gostling of Bedford, upholsterer.

The ex-chapel later served as a fire station during World War II and then as Chapel Feeds. It was recently demolished to make way for a new house (No 7 Old Silsoe Road)

55 High Street Test

Primitive Methodist Chapel,
High Street

The "Primitive Methodists" built a new chapel in the High Street (next door to 53 High Street (the old Post Office) in 1915 and, apparently abandoned the old chapel

It was demolished in about 1972 to make way for the bungalow which is now 55 High Street.

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Parish Room

In 1906 a barn, in the grounds of the Rectory opposite the entrance to St Mary's Church, was converted to a hall. It was called the Parish room and, before the first village hall in Kiln Lane was built, it was the place for wedding receptions and many social functions.

It burnt down in 1966. As it was found that many of the timbers were rotten it was demolished.

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Reading Room

"The Reading Room was a great asset for village folk. Every evening it was open for billiards, snooker, cribbage or cards; but never on Sundays or Christmas Day. It was also used by the visiting Dentist as a surgery." Jack Pitts.

It was built in 1836 as a boy's Sunday school. When it became a 'Reading Room' is not known.

It was demolished to make way for a detached house.

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Cross Tree

The Cross Tree stood in the middle of the junction of Little Lane, Great Lane and the High Street.

It was an elm and may have been over 400 years old.

It was removed in 1939-40 as apparently it became a hazard in the blackout at the beginning of World War 2.

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Clophill Water Mill

The current mill dates from the late 18th century and has an undershot wheel which drove three pairs of stones. It ground both wheat for flour and grain for animal feed.

It is still standing but the milling machinery has been removed.

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Mill House

Built in the early 19th century, it was (and still is) listed Grade II (Nationally important and of special interest) but has been demolished. It was the residence of the miller, George Course.