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Holy Cross Church in Slapton
Slapton shown within Buckinghamshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||LEIGHTON BUZZARD|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Slapton is a village and also a civil parish within Aylesbury Vale district in Buckinghamshire, England. It is located between the Grand Union Canal and the border with Bedfordshire, about three miles south of Leighton Buzzard, three miles west of Edlesborough.
The manor of Slapton once belonged to a convent in Barking, Essex, though it was seized by the Crown in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1547. The manor was for some time after that the property of the Earl of Bridgwater.
Today Slapton contains few old buildings of any architectural merit. The church, dedicated to the Holy Cross, is of plain design with tower, nave and chancel. The chancel is probably the oldest part of the building. The church yard contains many memorials to the Turney and Buckmaster families.
The "Carpenter's Arms", the village public house, is one of the most attractive buildings in the village. It is a half timbered construction begun in the 16th century under a thatched roof. The pub is now run by the owner of Bury Farm which has recently been converted into a world class equestrian centre which is due to house a team at the 2012 Olympics.
The village contains one or two older cottages such as "Woodbine Cottage" and "Chiltern Cottage" from the 18th century. The remainder of the older properties in the village were built by the Buckmaster family in the 19th century. The Buckmasters were a prosperous farming family from Ivinghoe, who at one time owned Bury Farm in the centre of the village. Until recently the remainder of the houses (approximately 30) in the village were owned by the local authority who built them immediately following World War II. Since 1990 there have been a few developments of "executive style" homes built in the village.
The village hall was built and given to the village by the Griffin family of Bury Farm in memory of Elizabeth Griffin in the 1950s. Until recently, the Griffin family continued to own Bury Farm, and had the unusual distinction of farming buffalo in the village. Slapton once had a splendid 18th century rectory of classical design. This was demolished in the 1960s and a development of four-bedroom terraced and semi-detached houses in the style of that era was built on its site.
There was a farm (Church Farm) immediately next to the church, until the mid-1970s; this property had been in the ownership of one family since 1086, having originally been given to the de Tournai's by William the Conqueror. The family survived in Slapton, spelling their name in various ways, until the death of William Turney in circa 1975. He was childless, so the farm was sold for the first time in 900 years. The new owners demolished the farm-house and buildings, and on the site built a development of houses and flats known as Tournay Court.
The village once contained a water mill known as Slaptonbury Mill; the ruins of this were finally cleared in the 1980s. There is a legend relating to it. The ghost of a young girl is said to ride through the village on her pony from Slaptonbury Mill to a farm on the other side of the village, sent on an errand to the mill by her father. Both she and the pony drowned in the flooded mill stream, and still today she attempts to return home! The hooves of the pony are heard during the hours of darkness only. Whatever the truth of the legend, the mill stream still regularly floods.
The village today has a thriving community in spite of the closure of the small village school in the early 1990s and later the closure of the one village shop and post office. And should you venture into the village of Slapton in early September then you may see the results of the yearly scarecrow competition! which is held prior to the annual Slapton Village Fete.
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In 1993, an Exorcism was conducted at one of the village's older cottages following reports of a multiple haunting. The occupants at that time had suffered increased and violent poltergeist activity over a 5-year period, ever since moving into The Court, in 1988. The worst reported incident was when an ‘invisible force’ reputedly picked up one of the occupant’s by the neck and held them, suspended, a few feet in the air. It is believed that one of the ghosts was that of former tenant, Jesse Healy, who lived in Horton Road circa 1940. The entity responsible for the violent outbursts was thought to be of demonic origin and it was assumed that someone must have used an Ouija board at the premises prior to the occupants moving there, which ultimately ‘invited’ the evil spirit in. This, however, remains unconfirmed to date. An article published in the Herald & Post, on 25 November 2003, referred to this haunting.
In another old cottage in the village the sounds of children crying can be heard, but with no mortal source. There is also the story of a ghostly apparition in the Churchyard. It is said that the glinting of moonlight off the buckles on a rector's shoes can be seen as he rushes to an ancient affray. This is all that is seen of him. The pub is also believed to have its fair share of spirits! The bar area is believed to be haunted by a monk-like figure who was killed whilst trying to break up a fight. There is also a ghostly woman who lurks in the kitchen until after closing time, which is when she ventures out into the main part of the pub and can be seen wandering around, from outside. The Luton Paranormal Society and the Paranormal Database both list some of the ghostly goings on, on their websites.
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Local history & interest
Malcolm Fairley (nicknamed The Fox) put terror into villagers with his so-called "Rape Triangle" of Edlesborough, Cheddington and Linslade during 1984. Malcolm Fairley was eventually sentenced to six life sentences for the attacks plus a further 26 years in prison for related offences. No Slapton residents were attacked by The Fox, despite being situated in the centre of the "triangle".
The Greenacres caravan site, a quarter of a mile outside the Slapton boundary at Little Billington, was raided by police on 11 September 2011, following intelligence that people were being enslaved there. Operation Netwing discovered 24 men held against their will at the site, some of which were housed in kennels, horseboxes, or sheds. It is believed to be the largest operation involving human trafficking and slavery in the UK. Nearly 3 years to the day, on 14th September 2014, the same site was raided a second time for 'slavery allegations. Eight suspected victims – seven men aged between 20 and 46, and a 17-year-old boy - were found at the plots. Four residents of the plots, two men and two women, were arrested.
Slapton has its share of famous people, as Frank Bruno lives on the outskirts of the village.
- Neighbourhood Statistics 2011 Census, Accessed 3 February 2013