diamond geezer

 Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This is not most people's view of Milton Keynes.



But before the planners drew their lines across the map, several small villages were scattered amongst the fields where the new city now stands. These included Broughton, Bradwell, Woughton on the Green, Little and Great Woolstone, as well as Willen where the big lake ended up. And there was also a small parish called Milton Keynes, just off the Newport Pagnell Road, whose name was borrowed to apply to the entire twenty-thousand-acre site.

In the Doomsday Book, the manor was called Middeltone. In 1166 it passed by marriage into the hands of Hugh de Kaynes, a Norman landowner, and so became known as Middelton Kaynes. Milton Keynes is a 15th century contraction. If Mabel hadn't married Hugh, the new town would have been called something completely different.

All Saints Church dates back to 1330, on the site of an even older building from the turn of the 13th century. I tried hunting for the medieval fishponds immediately to the west, but in this parched weather there was no obvious sign. On the village green is a village sign, still using the old name, and a small village hall housed in the old village school. The cricket pitch looked pristine.



The former heart of the village is just down the lane, outside The Swan Inn. Not only is it 13th century, it's also thatched, and requires taller clientele to duck their heads on entering. The tables out front are well frequented on sunny afternoons. Down the road is the obligatory red telephone box, and a shelter which looks like it was once a bus stop. The last surviving shop is a barbers. The Post Office may be long closed, but now comprises half of a very pretty thatched cottage.

If you fancy a walk round the original village, try the Milton Keynes Virtual Trail hosted on the Two Villages Archive Trust website.

The rural illusion is convincing, but you only have to drive a short distance down the road to reach modern Leys, Closes, Crofts and Drives. Connection to the wider world is via the Griffith Gate roundabout. Indeed the village has been entirely absorbed into the Middleton neighbourhood, whose name harks back to the original name of the village, before it was Milton Keynes.



On the other side of the parish is Oakgrove, one of the new town's newest neighbourhoods, and where Waitrose have chosen to site their out-of-town megastore. The developers named it after a clump of trees on an 17th century map, rather than adopting the perhaps more honest option of Formerquarry. Street names include Pixel Avenue, Cyber Avenuue, Abacus Drive and Wizard Way.

A Show Home and Sales Centre await potential buyers, with prices on the 4 bedroom detacheds starting at £675,000. The family homes already built along the edge of the reedy flood relief channel look less Milton Keynes and more Barking Riverside. But there are tunnels for the newts, so that's good, and the peace of Ouzel Valley Park is only a short distance away. The driving forces behind housing growth change, but never disappear.


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