Willington Local History Group
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From the archives - Emma Sandon

The photograph shows head mistress, Miss Emma Sandon and pupils at Willington village school. Emma came to the school in 1889 and stayed here for 23 years until she retired in 1912. When Emma came to the school, there were 41 pupils present on her first morning. The school had been built in 1867 by the 8th Duke of Bedford’s architect, Henry Clutton, at a cost of about £1000.

From the archives - The Brimleys

One of the striking aspects of nineteenth century village life in Willington was the way tenancies for farms passed from father to son. One of these families was the Brimley family at the High Road Farm, sometimes called simply Road Farm and later, Grange Farm. Three generations of the Brimley family played a significant part in village life as employers and leading members of the community.

From the archives - The Browns of Hill Farm

Willington was part of the estates of the Duke of Bedford from 1774 to 1902. Among the new farms built for the Duke was Hill Farm, built in 1804, using a design by Robert Salmon, the Duke of Bedford’s surveyor and later his steward. The design used the octagon plan also seen at Octagon Farm in Cople. The first tenant of Hill Farm was Robert Brown and members of the Brown family stayed as tenants there for about 100 years. 

From the archives - Thomas Twitchell and the Methodist Church

Thomas Twitchell combined success as a farmer with a strong commitment to the Methodist cause and he is perhaps best remembered for his support of Methodism both in Willington and across the county. His obituary in the Bedford Mercury said he ”assiduously discharged the duties of circuit steward and local preacher. He was a liberal contributor to all the institutions peculiar to Methodism, and having no family, his hand was always ready to give of his abundant substance.”

From the archives - How the stables and dovecote came to the

National Trust

The Tudor dovecote in Willington came to the National Trust in 1914 thanks to a fund raising campaign led by Caroline Orlebar, the daughter of the village’s long serving vicar, Augustus Orlebar. She had set out, supported by Lyndon Bolton of the Bedford Arts Club, to raise money to  protect the building from demolition and save it for the nation. Sadly Caroline Orlebar died before her intentions could be realised so it was left to her brother to complete the dovecote’s conveyance to the National Trust on Christmas Eve, 1914. The Tudor stables, along with the rest of Manor Farm, were purchased in the early twentieth century by Isaac Godber, who had moved his nursery business to Willington. After World War II in 1947 he donated the stables to the National Trust.
Emma Sandon and pupils at the village school Thomas Twitchell The Orlebar familky. Caroline is at the back next to the bridegroom.
Hill Farm, Willington
Clement and Herbert Brimley at work in North Carolina The Godber family with Isaac and his wife, Bessie, seated in the centre