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Helmdon is a village in the district of Southmarker Northamptonshiremarker. Helmdon parish covers an area of approximately 6 square kilometres and includes the village of Helmdon and the settlements of Astwell and Falcuttmarker.


Geography

The village of Helmdon is 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of Brackleymarker, 11 km (6.8 miles) east-north-east of Banburymarker and 24 km (15 miles) south-west of Northamptonmarker. The centre of the village lies at . The village lies both sides of a small valley at the headwaters of the River Tovemarker. The physical presence of the river and the route of a former LMS railway line divide the village into two areas. Villages nearby include Syreshammarker, Wappenhammarker and Whitfield.

Demography

At the time of the 2001 census, the population of Helmdon parish was 938 people. In 2004 it had increased to approximately 950. There were approximately 350 properties, 50 of which lie outside the village envelope.

Governance

Helmdon elects a parish council.

History

Records date the beginnings of the village back to Saxon times, when it was known as "Helma's Valley". It was recorded in the Domesday Book as "Elme Dene". At that time it belonged to the Robert, Count of Mortain, half-brother of William the Conqueror.

The parish church St Mary Magdalene dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, but has undergone many restorations since. The oldest of the six bells in the tower dates back to 1679. Prior to the Reformation it was dedicated to St Nicolas. In the churchyard, there is a yew tree estimated to be 1700 years old.

Historically the village developed along Church Street, Wappenham Road and Cross Lane. A village based on agriculture is clearly identified by the number of former and continuing farmhouses in the village, which run into double figures.

For many centuries stone-quarrying was the major industry in the village, with evidence of its existence going back to the 14th century; a stained-glass window in the north wall commemorates stonemason William Campiun at work in 1313. In the 18th century lace-making was a significant business, with up to a quarter of the village women being lace-makers.

The village at one time boasted four public houses: The Bell, The Chequers, The Magpie (which some accounts refer to as the Cock and Magpie) and The Cross. The Bell was originally named The King William, but was renamed because it was closest to the church, and is the only remaining pub, with The Magpie and The Cross converted into houses, and The Chequers demolished and subsequently built upon.

The Reading Room was originally a men's meeting place as an alternative to the pub. This Victorian building was given to the village by Charles Fairbrother in 1887. Around the time of World War I women started using it. Today it functions as the village hall.

Despite its small size, Helmdon once had two railway stations: the older, known in its latter years as , was on the former LMS route mentioned earlier; this was the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway between Stratford-upon-Avonmarker and Towcestermarker, closed in April 1952. The other station was on the former Great Central Railway, the last main line to be constructed from the north of England to Londonmarker, opened in March 1899. The line crossed the nine-arch Helmdon Viaduct over the River Tove to the west of the village. The Great Central station was sometimes referred to as "Helmdon for Sulgravemarker", Sulgravemarker being a nearby village famous for Sulgrave Manormarker, home of the ancestors of George Washington. The station closed in March 1963, the line itself in September 1966. The viaduct still stands.

Amenities

Helmdon has a shop, pub, church and two ponds. There are more than 30 active community groups. The village has two schools, a playgroup, Helmdon Acorns, covering ages 2-4 yrs, and a primary school for children aged 4 to 10 years. In 1969, 1996, 1999 and 2002, Helmdon won the Northamptonshire Village of the Year competition.

References

  1. Office for National Statistics: Helmdon CP: Parish headcounts. Retrieved 12 November 2009


External links




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