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General History
A short history by Mr. Bert Hyde

Places > Stotfold > General History

Stotfold formerly a village, now a town stands on the river Ivel in east Bedfordshire on the border with Hertfordshire, 40 miles north of London.

The name Stotfold may reflect the fact that in former times "stots" (young horses and cattle) were folded (penned) overnight in the village on their way along the Great North Road.

According to the Doomsday Book (1086) the village was held by Hugh de Beauchamp, Baron of Bedford. It has been estimated that the total number of inhabitants at that time was 200. The village had four water mills assessed at 4 and 400 eels annually.

From Doomsday to 1903 agriculture was all important. Early on this was intrinsically bound up with the Manors. There were three Stotfold Manors, the large and important Stotfold Brayes Manor, the smaller Stotfold Newnham Manor and the Stotfold Rectory Manor which was smaller still and after 1539 was owned by Trinity College Cambridge.

The notorious "Stotfold Riot" part of the "Swing" disturbances took place on the 1st and 2nd of December 1830. The Times newspaper described it as "one of the most desperate riots that have occurred of late". The 300 labourers of the village demanded 2s. a day pay and when this was refused many of them resorted to violence. As a result 10 ofthe ringleaders were tried at the 1831 Lent Assizes at Bedford. All were found guilty . Eight were given prison sentences and two were transported to Australia for 14 years.

In modern times there have been only two water mills in Stotfold. Taylor's mill which can be traced back to Doomsday -now disused and a private residence - and Randall's mill, to which the earliest known reference is dated 1516. The latter was completely gutted by a devastating fire in 1992. This was superbly restored in 2002 and the Stotfold Mill Preservation Trust is now in the process of replacing the mill machinery.

In 1801 there were only 93 dwellings in the village and ever since then there has been a steady growth in the population and number of houses. There was a boost to the population in 1860 when the Three Counties Asylum was built in the parish. With the founding of Letchworth garden City in 1903 and its subsequent industrial development more and more Stotfold people began to work at the Garden City and Stotfold changed from being an agricultural village to a dormitory village. Although the industrial development at Letchworth is a thing of the past Stotfold's closeness to the A1(M) ensures it remains a dormitory town.

In view of the growth in the population of the village it was right that in 1974 at the time of the reorganisation of local government the Parish Council should choose to change its name to Stotfold Town Council and thus, Stotfold became a town.

Bert Hyde 
December 2002

Page last updated: 4th February 2014