Aspley Guise
St Botolph's Church
Aspley Woods at the southern corner of the civil parish
Aspley Guise is located in Bedfordshire
Aspley Guise
Aspley Guise
Location within Bedfordshire
Population2,195 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceSP942359
• London48 miles (77 km)
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtMK17
FireBedfordshire and Luton
AmbulanceEast of England
List of places

52°00′45″N 0°37′43″W / 52.0126°N 0.6285°W / 52.0126; -0.6285


Aspley Guise is a village and civil parish in the west of Central Bedfordshire, England. In addition to the village of Aspley Guise itself, the civil parish also includes part of the town of Woburn Sands, the rest of which is in the City of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. Together with Woburn Sands and Aspley Heath, it forms part of the Milton Keynes urban area.[2] It is centred 6 miles (9.7 km) east southeast of Central Milton Keynes and 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the M1 junction 13. It has its own railway station on the Marston Vale Line, and an historic centre with 29 listed buildings.



Asperele and Aspel are recorded in Letter Patents, Assize Rolls and such documents of the 13th century, with the names Aspelegise appearing in the following century.[3]

The name derives from "Aspenlea" meaning the aspen clearing – and from the late medieval period, "of the de Guise family" when Anselm de Gyse became Lord of the Manor in 1375.[3]

Early history

The first record of Aspley dates from 969, when land there comprising 15 hides was granted by King Edgar (the Peaceable) to his thegn (thane) Alfwold.[3]

By the date of the Domesday Book, 1086, the parish had 25 households, five of which were recorded as serfs. The book notes it covered a large tract of agricultural land, valued at £10 to its overlords, though rendering only £8, and was held before the conquest by Leofeva of Earl Waltheof. Its contemporary manor owner was Acard of Ivry who held of Hugh de Beauchamp, its feudal overlord.

In total were 12 ploughlands (larger than average), 10 ploughs of meadow, woodland producing 50 hogs per year, one mill; the book records no church at that date.[4]

Its church is mentioned in the records of the diocese in 1223.[5]

During the Second World War, the community housed several secret facilities relating in some manner to code-breaking and propaganda.[6]

Aspley Manor

Most of the cultivated land was held by the manor in the medieval period.[3] Historical records go back to 969, when King Edgar the Peaceful granted the land to a thegn, Alfwold. In 1086, at the time of the Domesday Book, the manor was held by Hugh de Beauchamp (sheriff).[7]

The stayed in Acard's family until his descendant, Reginald de Ivri granted a lease to Falkes de Breauté. On confiscation of Falkes's estates in 1225 King Henry III granted the rest of the lease to Henry de Capella, however by 1227 a certain "Reginald de St. Valery" was free to release the land (entire fee) to his regent, now Henry was a 20-year-old adult, Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent, with an official approval (confirmation of alienation).[3]

Similarly however, in 1233 the King confiscated his lands, however Hubert was restored to all his wealth the following year in the Testa de Nevill. By 1267 it is established in the royal returns and copies (literally, rolls) of letters that he had subinfeudated the manor to Anselm de Gyse, in return for knight's service to John de Burgh and heirs.[n 1][3]

After the middle of the 14th century the heirs of Hubert de Burgh in Aspley seem to have lapsed, and the manor was held directly of the barony of Bedford.

The tenancy was in this period that of de Guise. Anselm died in 1295 left as heir a son John, then aged 17 – his descendants inherited this tenancy and became direct tenants as mentioned. In 1428 the lord of the manor's lord briefly changed to Giles Bridges, who had married Catherine Gyse, widow, of the previous lord, Reginald Gyse, however this was brief.[citation needed]

Nonetheless, Catherine had from her first marriage, male issue and the House of Gyse remained with the manor's possession. As such, Sir John Gyse created a knight by Prince Arthur (Tudor), died holding Aspley Guise Manor in 1501.[citation needed]

In 1541, the manor of Aspley Guise was annexed to the newly formed honour of Ampthill, which in 1551 was granted for life to Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I).[citation needed]

An extent of the manor in 1560 mentions two windmills,[citation needed] but none survive in the historic ecclesiastical parish.

In 1560 she gave this asset by royal grant to Sir Richard Lee, military engineer: summarised as being worth a fairly average £14 13s. 11+12d.,[n 2] &c. (i.e. additionally, impecunious benefits accrued) per year. His daughter Ann, later Mrs Ralph Norwich, received permission to alienate (sell) the manor to Francis Bury, whose heir, Frances, by arrangement or fate married Ann's grandson, Thomas Lee Sadleir.[n 3]

The estate passed down in a straightforward line of Sadleirs to Richard Vernon Sadleir who died in 1810, whose sister Ursula Moody inherited it. The owner in 1912 was accordingly her descendant, a certain Mr F. Moody.[3]

The current manor house was built about 1700.[8]


As to the church lands and tithes, in 1317 a further confirmation of Simon de Beauchamp's grant of the church and two parts of the tithes was made in favour of Newnham Priory. In 1544, these lands and the advowson were released by John Gyse and Anselm his son and heir to the Crown. In the similarly timed Dissolution of the Chantries (one year before its famed successor) an acre here was appropriated by the crown and its proceeds given to fund a new church window.[3] What remained of the rectory was consolidated in 1796[9] with the vicarage of Husborne Crawley and re-established half a century later.

The Church Charities

The Town Close, administered by the ecclesiastical parish, containing 4.75 acres (1.92 ha) awarded under the Inclosure Act 1761, by 1912 still produced for the poor agricultural produce worth £8 18s. a year, which was expended from time to time on its produce growers' work.[3]

20th century

In the early 20th century large brickworks, with clay extraction was the main industry in the parish itself, having ceased by that century the extraction of fuller's earth, on which profit was no longer possible. Agriculture, as today formed a minority of employment.[3]

The Rookery, a secluded Victorian mansion in Church Street, was used by intelligence operatives during the Second World War for black propaganda against Germany controlled by Sefton Delmer.[10]


The Aspley Guise Conservation Area (designated in 1971 and amended in 2008) includes a number of buildings with historic importance; several are of high architectural importance.[11][12]

The garden walls and gateway of Aspley House are listed in an entry separate from the house;[13] in total, there are 32 structures in the community that have been identified by English Heritage as worthy of historic listing; all are Grade II listed buildings.[14]

St Botolph's church

According to the diocese records, a church was built on this site circa 1223.[15] Historic record specifically mention it and state that control of the parish was held by Newnham Priory. The land (manor) owner at the time was Sir Falkes de Breauté but the holding passed to Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent, in 1227.[16]

The current Anglican church is medieval and dedicated to St Botolph, also known as Botwulf of Thorney, an English abbot who died in 680 AD. One source states that parts of the building were constructed in the 15th century but it was significantly modified in the 19th century. The stained glass is mostly from the Victorian era.[17] The building is "mainly coursed ironstone with ashlar dressings".[18]

A history from 1912 states that the church had been so extensively modified that "its architectural history is in large measure uncertain". The tower shows three dates when work was completed: 1665, 1765 and 1855.[19]

The church tower has six bells, made by John Taylor & Co (Taylor's of Loughborough) and installed in 1883.[20] Its southern window of a nativity screen was installed during the last major series of renovations and is described by the church as "very fine".[5]

The north aisle has a 15th-century traceried screen, a similarly dated circular font and a tomb chest with effigy of knight, probably Sir William Tyrington, estimated to date to c.1400. In this floor are typical brasses, one to John Danvers or Daweners,[21] rector, c.1410, another c.1500, probably to Sir John de Gyse/Guise.[22]

Aspley House

This was built in 1690 according to some sources,[23] but the historic listing indicates 1695; it is in the style of Sir Christopher Wren and was modified circa 1750 and again later.[24] In 1912 this house still contained many fine portraits of the Hervey and Chernock families.[3]

Guise House

In the 18th century, Guise House and its grounds were home to (Aspley) Classical Academy until 1845, a school at its peak rated to rival Eton and Harrow. It has above its façade a Greek-style open pediment with windows in its tympanum (triangular area). It has a stone parapet tower.[25]

The Old House

The Old House is timber-frame (of typical Tudor architectural construction) and dates from 1575, according to Historic England, with some Georgian alterations. [26] The local Council believes it was built as early as 1545, and this may be the oldest building in the community.[27]


The village has 26 other examples of listed architecture, many of them early Georgian.

The village is served by Aspley Guise railway station, a small station on the Marston Vale Line running between Bedford and Bletchley.


The southwestern area, which includes Aspley Wood has substantial pine trees, the west has a public golf course, accessed from either road to Woburn Sands. In the northern part crops are grown. Aspley Heath, once part of the parish, is now its own village and civil parish and is south of Aspley Wood, relatively distant to the south-west.[3]

Elevations range from 75m AOD at the northern boundary marked by the middle of the M1 (with side-by-side, parallel, local road the A422), to the start of village centre which is at between 84m (at the station) and 124m at the Common Farm and Golf course in the southwest, just below which to two sides is most of the village. Streets are steepest between the station developed area and the historic upland area. A spring rises on this slope, east of Church Street, the single road scaling the slope.


The parish is today relatively small compared to others and has kept to a main north–south development, with buffer zones and recreational areas to either side – see linear development.

Aspley Guise Triangle

The 'Aspley Guise triangle' is its northern area of farmland bounded by the A421 to the north and north-east and the Marston Vale line to the south (which separates it from the developed and recreational areas of Aspley Guise) and Cranfield Road to the west. It had been named with this term in the regional body's Expansion plans for Milton Keynes and identified as an appropriate possibility, being served by a railway station. In the ministerial ruling on the plan, this area was excluded on the technicality that it is not part of the South East of England Region, though with a hint that it might appear again in an East of England regional spatial strategy, which had its own fulfilled plans.[28]

Following the 2010 United Kingdom general election, the coalition government cancelled its predecessor's regional housing targets and bodies. The Local Authority (Central Bedfordshire Council) has since put forward a Local Plan that identifies this area of land for development of 3,000 homes plus facilities.[citation needed]



Aspley Guise is bisected by Bedford Road, which heads eastwards towards Junction 13 of the M1, and westwards towards Newport Road, which heads southwards towards Woburn, and northwards towards Woburn Sands and the wider Milton Keynes urban area.


Aspley Guise railway station is on the Marston Vale line between Bedford and Bletchley and has trains hourly Monday-Saturday. It is three calling points east of Bletchley for interchange with local services on the West Coast Main Line.[29]

Notes and references

  1. ^ These heirs were in prominent families at the time: namely Robert de Gresley and son-in-law John de la Warr.
  2. ^ About £6,700 today.
  3. ^ d.1644
  1. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Aspley Guises civil parish (E04011926)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 10 December 2023.
  2. ^ See map at UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Milton Keynes built-up area (E34005056)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Page, William, ed. (1912). "Parishes: Aspley Guise". A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Domesday Map". Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b Church of England (a church near you)
  6. ^ "Aspley Guise Neighbourhood Development Plan Submission" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Parishes: Aspley Guise, MANOR". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1321714)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Parishes: Aspley Guise, ADVOWSON". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  10. ^ The Rookery, Aspley Guise – Bedfordshire Record Office, accessed 26 July 2010 Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Aspley Guise Conservation Area, 19 March 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Aspley Guise Conservation Area". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  13. ^ Aspley House's Gateway and Garden Wall Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1113953)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Listed Buildings in Aspley Guise, Central Bedfordshire". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  15. ^ "Aspley Guise Neighbourhood Development Plan Submission" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Parishes: Aspley Guise, ADVOWSON". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Aspley Guise – St Botolph". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  18. ^ "CHURCH OF ST BOTOLPH". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Parishes: Aspley Guise, 1912". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Parishes: Aspley Guise, CHURCH". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  21. ^ {last entry on page}, as defendant
  22. ^ St Botolph's Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1312070)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  23. ^ "Parishes: Aspley Guise, 1912". Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  24. ^ Aspley House Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1113948)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  25. ^ Guise House Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1113952)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  26. ^ The Old House Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1113954)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  27. ^ "Aspley Guise Neighbourhood Development Plan Submission" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  28. ^ Consultation Home > Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) > Proposed Changes for Consultation > Secretary of State's Proposed Changes 23 > Milton Keynes and Aylesbury Vale[permanent dead link] Commentary on chapter 23(5).
  29. ^ Association of Train Operating Companies – official timetable