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Places > Shillington

14th Century: Present church built mainly in the 14th century replaced an earlier Norman Church

1333: Bishop Burghersh of Lincoln issued a commission to compel the parishioners to repair the nave of their church.

1701: Church tower collapsed causing damage to the west end of the church.

1787: Shillington Poor House censored when 12 inmates died during the year.

1802: Shillington Enclosure Act passed.

1840: Congregational Chapel built, described in an 1862 Bedfordshire Directory as a "commodious little building".

1856: National School built on the site of the Old Vicarage behind the almshouses, the new school was built to house 120 pupils although by 1878 the number had risen to 300.

1862: Coprolites discovered on Chibley farm.

1864: Kelly's Post Office Directory states "efforts are being made by the vicar to establish a library and reading room for the labouring classes and the men employed in the extensive coprolite works in the parish"

1872: Wesleyan Chapel built.

1876: The height of the Shillington coprolite industry with 1,400 people employed. This industry was the production of fertiliser from coprolites which were thought to be the fossilised dung of prehistoric reptiles; it was known locally as "dinosaur dung". The effect of their discovery in Shillington was to bring a large band of itinerant labour to live and work in the area. The coprolites were treated in huge tanks near The Musgrave Arms and were then sent to a mill at Royston for processing into agricultural fertiliser. The industry had died out by the 1890s with the import of cheap foreign phosphates for chemical manure. At height of the trade coprolites were worth about 3.00 a ton and the average yield was about 300 tons per acre. Wages were high and a good "fossil digger" could earn 40s a week.

1881: The 1881 census recorded very few as being involved in the coprolite industry. Amos Simons, aged 29 described himself as "Publican and Coprolite Raiser employing 25 men and 4 boys".

1885: Outbreak of Scarlet Fever in July, three children die and school closed.

1891: The 1891 census showed Amos Simons as a "Coprolite Contractor" but there was no evidence of anyone else being involved.

1901: The 1901 census gave the population as 1629 compared with the figure of 2226 given for the 1881 census, a drop of nearly 600.

1911: Shillington Manor destroyed by fire, the church tower was restored.

1920: Restoration of the south chapel as a war memorial.

1956: Seventeenth century almshouses, situated in the churchyard were demolished.

1966: The Marquis of Granby public house closes.

1989: The Musgrave Arms re-opens after a 90,000 refurbishment.

1993: New stained glass window placed in the north aisle as a memorial to members of the Hillyard family.

2006: New playgroup building at Shillington Lower School opened in September.


  • Newspaper Cuttings Collection in the Local Studies Library at Bedford Central Library.
  • Victoria County History of Bedfordshire Vol.2 1908
  • The Shillington Fossil Diggings : an account of the 19th century coprolite industry by Bernard O'Connor, no date
  • Bedfordshire Churches in the 19th Century by Chris Pickford, Part 3 B.H.R.S. Vol.79  2000

Page last updated: 4th February 2014