St Mary the Virgin parish church
|South West Bedfordshire|
Eaton Bray is a village and parish in Bedfordshire. The village is part of a semi-rural area which extends into the parish of Edlesborough in Buckinghamshire, which village shares its church. Eaton Bray is about one mile from the Bedfordshire village of Totternhoe.
The name Eaton is commonplace, derived from the Old English ea tun, meaning "River Farmstead". The suffix "Bray" refers to Sir Reginald Bray (d. 1503) and the family that once held the manor in this village, which was at present-day Park Farm.
The Domesday Book of 1086 lists the village as Eitone. In 1205 the manor of Eaton was granted to William I de Cantilupe (d.1239), steward of King John (1199–1216). Eaton became the caput of the Cantilupe feudal barony known by modern historians as "Eaton Bray". The grant, for knight-service of one knight, was in exchange for the manor of Coxwell, Berkshire, which had been previously granted to him. Eaton had been held at the time of William the Conqueror by the latter's half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earl of Kent, but later escheated to the crown. At Eaton Cantilupe built a castle, the only remains of which is the moat at Park Farm, which is open to the public for fishing.
In the Victorian era Arthur Macnamara (the "Mad Squire" of Billington) planned to build a mansion on the site of the castle, but ran out of money after completing the lodge at the entrance to Park Farm.
Today the site of Wallace Nurseries is a housing estate and most of the roads take their name from this and some of the plant varieties they created, for example Saffron Rise and Coral Close.
Church of St Mary the Virgin
The parish church is St Mary The Virgin, which serves the ecclesiastical parish of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough, straddling Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The church was built soon after 1205 for William I de Cantilupe using stone from nearby Totternhoe. The organ there was refurbished after a local fundraising campaign in the 1980s.
The arcades of the nave and the font date from the Early English period. There is a 16th-century communion table.
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- Charter Rolls, vol.1, p.147; Annales Monastici, vol.3, p.66, as quoted in Sanders, I.J. (1960). English Baronies, A Study of Their Origin and Descent 1086-1327. Oxford. p. 39.
- Jones, Lawrence E. (1965). A Guide to Some Interesting Old English Churches. London: Historic Churches Preservation Trust. p. 9.