Although people have lived in the area for thousands of years, Tingewick as an identifiable named place has probably only existed since Saxon times. To put it another way, Tingewick is probably about fifteen hundred years old and the oldest thing about it is its name, which may be loosely translated as the dairy village of Ted’s people!
Nothing is visible from those early times, but when we come into the early Middle Ages, we begin to have structures and documents. Within the Church, is a fine row of Norman arches lit by two contemporary windows. These probably represent an extension of an earlier stone church which may in turn have replaced a timber building. The hilltop site with its curving enclosure wall is typical of the period. Matching this to a precise document is impossible, but we do have an entry in the Domesday Survey of 1086. There, Tingewick is described as being a property of the Bishop of Bayeux, whose tenant was Ilbert of Lacy. In addition to Ilbert’s family, there were about fifteen other households. Apart from the ridge and furrow arable land and the meadows, there was enough woodland for 800 pigs to forage in, and there was a mill. The extensive woodland was sufficient reason for Tingewick to be included in the royal hunting forest of Bernwood.
The village remained a simple agricultural settlement with few major changes until the eighteenth century. During the intervening years, some of our earliest surviving houses were built; Queen Elizabeth I passed through the parish and King Charles I marched his Civil War army along the village street. The medieval way of life, however, would have carried on largely unchanged.
In 1773, an Act of Parliament was signed which not only changed that way of life, but also the entire landscape. This was the Enclosure Act. The old open fields, in which villagers farmed strips allocated by the New College Oxford controlled manor court, were divided up reallocated, and fenced in. New farmsteads such as Sandpit and Grove Hill were constructed. These new farms stood in the centre of their land, which could then be managed more efficiently. Some of the old village farmhouses were divided into cottages for the labourers who would walk out to their seasonal tasks each day. Most of our field boundaries and footpaths date from this time.
Throughout the years so far described, transport and power would have been entirely by man, horse or oxen. But the late eighteenth century saw the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Steam engines and iron ploughs began to appear on farms and in the 1840’s a railway line was built through the northern edge of the parish, roughly parallel to the River Ouse. Buckingham station opened in 1850. This and the 1801 Buckingham Canal changed the context of the village enormously. No longer was Buckingham market the limit of ones trading horizon. Suddenly, the beginnings of globalization (a word unknown then), were taking place. Not only were there distant destinations for Tingewick goods, but shops began to stock items from afar. Lace making was the occupation of the majority of village women, with sixty-two lacemakers listed in the 1871 census. Within a few years, hand made lace was finished as a commercial undertaking. Nottinghamshire factories had seen to that.
Meanwhile, new building materials such as slates and cast iron gutters and downpipes, were changing the appearance of the houses which for so long had been built of timber and stone, topped by thatch and tile. Bricks, on the other hand, had been made in the village for many years. Indeed many Tingewick men worked in the Calvert brickyards until their closure in 1991.
Education changed greatly in the nineteenth century. The first purpose built school building was the thatched Sunday School of 1828, so called because children were only free from farmwork and lacemaking on Sundays. By 1841 however, eight-two children were attending on weekdays. They paid two pence for Reading and Arithmetic, and an extra penny for Writing. By 1873, the premises had become totally inadequate with 102 children, so the new school was built, opening in 1875. It catered for all school ages, but, of course children left education much earlier then.
The Great War of 1914-1918 affected the village badly. It is true that it took many men abroad for the first time and opened their eyes to the wider world. Sadly, however, twenty of those men died ‘Pro Patria’. Their names are inscribed on the war memorial in the cemetery.
At that time, the village had many more shops, the majority of people worked in and around the village, through not necessarily in agriculture, and the community provided its own welfare arrangements. There were several small charities, and many men belonged to Friendly Societies which provided modest allowances for those who were sick or out of work. The many allotments provided people with the opportunity to grow their own food. Apart from the ones off the Water Stratford Road, there was a large area of them between the village and Tingewick Wood.
World War II brought a vast number of soldiers and airmen into the parish following the building of Tingewick Camp beside the gold course at Grove Hill, and RAF Finmere on the south side of the village. Most traces of the military camp have now gone, but the control tower and runways of the aerodrome are still much in evidence. In the late 1940’s RAF buildings were used for a while by those whose London homes had been destroyed in the Blitz. Nine further names were added to the war memorial.
During the last fifty years, shops have reduced greatly in number. Residents have gone further afield for jobs and the general standard of living has risen enormously. The most obvious change however has been the creation of the 1998 by-pass. No longer does one vehicle pass along Main Street every 3.5 seconds, no longer do lorries thunder through the village, and no longer are mothers afraid to send their children to the shop. Now the traffic speeds safely along the new route of the A421, and ponies can once again be heard clip-clopping through the peaceful and historic lanes of Tingewick.
A Houghton Brown