Church: St James the Apostle

Hundred: Buckingham

Poor Law District: Buckingham

Size (acres): 1325

Easting & Northing: 470237

Grid Ref SP700370 Click to see map


Names & Places

Akeley PARISH St James the Apostle
Achelei NAMES name for Akeley in Domesday Book in 1086
Ekeley NAMES name for Akeley in 1577
Oakeley NAMES name for Akeley in 1755
Weslyan NON-CONFORMIST First Mentioned: 1829
Akeley cum Stockholt PLACE within the parish
Akeleywood PLACE within the parish
Stockholt PLACE within the parish




These population figures are based on the Census results. The boundaries are those used in the particular census which may vary over time..

1801 245
1811 257
1821 295
1831 291
1841 362
1851 373
1861 366
1871 378
1881 387
1891 380
1901 341
1911 297
1921 267
1931 255
1941 N/A
1951 292
1961 339
1971 401
1981 426
1991 469

There was no census in 1941.




Parish  Church  Register  Start
Akeley   St James the Apostle   Baptisms   1600   1901   Yes,
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Akeley   St James the Apostle   Marriages   1601   1901 Yes,
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Akeley   St James the Apostle   Burials   1600   1901   Yes,
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These were extracted from our own records and presented as a guide.

PositionBefore 1700  18th Century  19th Century  Overall Surnames  



Akeley derives its name from 'Ake', the Anglo-Saxon word for , and 'Ley', a field. In the Domesday Book it is spelled Achelei. Akeley had a church in 1164 and its living came into the possesion Longueville Abbey.

Of the interesting people who were buried at Akeley one was a Ann Clark, who died at the age of 104 years. She saw no less seven kings and queens on the throne of England, being born in the reign of Charles II and dying in the reign of George III. Akeley used to be noted for its lace industry. It had a large school for teaching the children the art of pillow lace making in cottages opposite the Grey Hound public house which was also the village bakery. It is now closed and has been converted into a private house

Akeley also possessed a flourishing brickyard and pottery in the early part of the 19th century. This was owned by a Mr and Mrs Bartonn who specialized in making flower pots, drain pipes for the building trade, and ornamental pedestals, bread bins and bricks etc.  The clay was dug from a field at the back of the Pits, which used to have water at the bottom. The kiln stood for a number of years after the brick yard closed. The property was owned by a Mr Watts who had a large house and orchard in the village where some of the ornamental bricks were used in the garden walls, There was also a butcher with its own slaughter house, two shoe repairers, one post office and shop and another shop selling a large selection of goods and food.

During the First World War hundreds of horses taken from the farms and land were re-shod before being shipped off to the battle front in France. Milk was delivered straight from the farm to the houses in milk buckets and ladled into customers' jugs etc. Two coal and wood dealers used to make up faggots of wood. A local builder also made coffins.

Akeley Church was built in 1854 and the Methodist Chapel was built in 1829. The church was pulled down in 1979 owing to the rotting stone and the chapel closed down in 1986.

In Akeley Wood there is a very large school which was built on a large estate which was built by Mr C. Pilgrim Esq. and has changed ownership over the years.

The main event of the village social life was the Horticultural Show which was considered the best in North Buckinghamshire, This closed down in 1918 but was restarted in 1976 and is once again a popular social village event.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission



Akeley Parish (Pop. 291.)

One Daily School, in which 3 boys and 3 girls are instructed at the expense of their parents.

One Sunday School, consisting of 30 males and 26 females (commenced 1829), supported by Wesleyan Methodists.
Abstract of Education Returns 1833




At the turn of the century, this little village in north Bucks was almost entirely self-supporting. There were two general stores, a butcher, a baker, who was also landlord of the Greyhound, a builder and undertaker, a coal and wood merchant, two cobblers, a tailor and a wheelwright who carried on his trade in the yard of the Bull and Butcher

There was a headmaster and two assistants in the little school, built in 1854, and a new church built on the site of an early thirteenth century one.
In addition, there was a thriving pottery where simple bowls, puncheons and flowerpots were made from clay obtained nearby, and hand-made bricks in sufficient quantities to build cottages in the village. Every Saturday a load of flowerpots, bowls and other crocks were taken to Buckingham market and from time to time into the surrounding villages.
Bread was made at the Greyhound by John Miller. When the bread was taken out of the ovens, villagers took their pies, cakes and stews to be cooked in the residual heat. On Sunday mornings the ovens were heated specially so that Sunday dinners could be cooked there, for the price of a penny-halfpenny.
Milk was fetched from the Church Farm where the farmer's wife, Mrs Winterburn, on Christmas Day stood a large basket of oranges by her door and gave one to each child who came for their milk.
In August, the village feast was held. The local showman, Sheppard by name, who lived at Blisworth when not 'on the road', brought all his gear and set it up in a field allowed for the purpose. Swings, roundabouts, shooting-gallery, hoop-la, were all manned by members of his family.
Akeley has always been a village of sturdy independence, with small farms and cottage industries. The nearest it came to having a squire was in 1873, when a gentleman named Pilgrim bought some land and built an Elizabethan-style residence in Akeley Wood. He also became patron of the living. His widow, Mrs Pilgrim, is still a legend in the memories of the older parishioners, for she was a strange woman of strong evangelistic tendencies, with generous impulses towards the village while seeking, by missioners and others, to instil the rigid code of her own beliefs.
The school children were taken in two wagons every Christmas by one of the farmers for a sumptuous tea and Christmas tree in the 'riding-school', now used as a gymnasium, since the house was converted to a preparatory school about forty years ago. At this Christmas treat each boy was given a muffler and the girls a doll. These dolls were beautifully dressed by Mrs Pilgrim's lady's maid. On May Day the children assembled there with their garlands to be judged by Mrs Pilgrim, and a doll given as a prize.
When Mrs Pilgrim died, she was buried at her expressed wish with feet towards the west instead of the east; her reason being that when she rose again at the Last Day, she would be facing towards her old home. On the stone slab, encircled by iron posts and chain around her grave, are two words only; Anna Pilgrim.
Lady Verney of Claydon House took an interest in the village school and provided wall-pictures which she changed periodically. They were usually by Landseer and contemporary artists.
The traditional country craft, Bucks lace, was' encouraged by a 'lace school' in a thatched cottage which was then opposite the Greyhound but which was pulled down later to make room for Council houses. Many of the village girls were taught there.
Akeley has a record of longevity, many living to their late nineties but none as yet exceeding that of Ann Clarke, who died in 1773 at the age of 104 as her tombstone shows. The story goes that one old lady who lost a daughter aged seventy lamented, 'Ah! I never did think I should rear her', and a retired postmistress remembers a mother and son, he aged seventy, both drawing the old age pension in the 1950's.
The old people remember the characters that village life produced and fostered, such as Jonas Knibbs, one-time sexton and verger, who was employed as milkman at Manor Farm and spent his Sundays in a frenzy of changing his clothes as he fulfilled the day's obligations: from milking to church, back to milking and then church again. Indeed, clothes were such a part of Sunday observance that children of careful parents might change from 'everyday' to 'Sunday best' three and four times.
Becky Knibbs—this surname was noted in the church registers for over two hundred years—lived in Duck End. She was a tall old woman who constantly wore a sun-bonnet and made medicaments from herbs kept fiercely secret.
Where the children once found excitement in watching the Duke of Grafton drive four-in-hand through the village, mothers now watch them anxiously cross the road where the great lorries and giant containers lumber along.
Plans for a new school are in preparation, modern houses stare brashly across the fields, the many little duck ponds have long been filled in, but to many of its older inhabitants Akeley is still the best place to live.

Edith Victoria Cox, Akeley

Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes



Akeley is a parish on the road from Buckingham to Towcaster, 3 miles Buckingham station on the Verney Junction and Banbury branch of the London, Midland and Scottish railway. In the Buckingham hundred has an area of 1,325 acres and a population of 267 in 1921.

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