The history of Clophill, Bedfordshire, UK
Including historical descriptions, maps and statistical analysis.

Endangered Heritage

Do something before it is too late.

Here are some examples of where we might, in retrospect, have made different decisions.

St Mary's School

If we could have afforded it at the time would we now wish that the old Victorian school had not been demolished and replaced with a modern design - functional but out of character? Would you rather now walk down the high Street and see a Victorian building with all the memories that it would bring back?

Maulden has managed to retain its old school building. Could we have kept ours?

St Mary's Church, High Street

It was built in the Neo-Gothic style in 1848-9 and praised by Nikolaus Pevsner.

In 1964 dry rot was discovered and an extensive scheme of works over the next five years included re-roofing. For some reason, the nave clerestory was removed along with the crenellated parapet of the south aisle, completely changing the appearance of the church frontage.

Presumably, this was done for cost reasons but it has left the building looking sadly utilitarian.

The Old Bridge

The eighteenth-century bridge was built of the local sandstone but had been neglected and repaired with brick.

It had carried all the traffic traveling between Bedford and Luton since motorized transport began. In 1937-38 it was by-passed when the A6 was realigned to run to the west of the Flying Horse and closed to traffic in 1957.

The parishioners of Clophill voted to renovate it but it was demolished and replaced with a new one. Are they regretting it?

We don't appreciate it until it is too late.

Cast your mind back to your younger days when you would want the latest thing. You were quite happy to throw out what you considered outdated. Now you watch Antiques Roadshow and recognize some of the items. "We used to have on of those". You never thought that it would be valued for its historic value and were quite happy to discard it.

It seems to take some time before we appreciate the historic value of something. By that time it can be too late. It is landfill or has been demolished and replaced with something modern.

If, before making a decision about destroying such things we said to ourselves "How will people feel in 50 years time about this?" Will we regret destroying it? It may cost more to save something but the price of the saving is that we have lost part of our irreplaceable heritage forever.

Listed Buildings Map

Listed buildings in Clophill.

What to do?

Bearing in mind that we don't usually fully appreciate the value of potentially historically important object, it is important to balance short term financial savings with long term heritage losses.

Conservation Area

Although there is a Conservation Area Document for Clophill it has no legal force on its own. When asked, the Principal Conservation Officer said "There is no Article 4 Direction for Clophill Conservation Area- some satellite dishes will therefore be permitted development, depending on position & location. Most windows (& doors) to unlisted houses within the conservation area can be changed to plastic at the owner's discretion."

If the policies defined in the Conservation Area document are to be enforced then a Article 4 Direction[link] is needed.

Listed buildings

Take a look at the list of Listed Buildings in Clophill. See them on a map. [graphic] Now walk round the village and spot buildings that you would expect to be listed but are not. There are quite a few, especially away from the High Street. I would not wish Listed Building status on any body's property as it imposes many restrictions and, consequently, may add additional expense for no personal benefit. But if the Listed Building system is to be used to preserve our heritage then it should be applied to all buildings that we identify as being part of it.

Traditional stone boundary walls

Traditional sand stone boundary walls are being repaired inappropriately and traditional methods of construction are being ignored.

As you walk around the village look out for traditional stone walls. They are made of the locally-quarried sandstone, dressed and coursed. The boundary wall at the front of St Mary's church on the High Street is a good example of a traditional wall. Note how each stone has been dressed into a rectangular shape and laid in horizontal courses using a lime mortar.

Now look at the wall to left of it in front of number ? High street. Note how the stone is irregular in shape with a modern cement mortar. The mortar joints look wide because the stone is not dressed. It looks more like vertical crazy paving than a traditional wall.

Are there still craftsmen who know how to build and repair a traditional stone wall? Is the planning authority prepared to insist that such craftsmen are employed when working on old walls?

The opinions expressed on this page are the personal views of the website owner.

Bad Wall

The boundary wall at ? High Street showing some dressed stone (probably reused) and new undressed stone layed randomly with cement mortar.

Good Wall

The boundary wall at St Mary's Church showing the dressed rectangular stone layed in courses with a lime mortar.