Moggerhanger and Blunham lie in the angle where the Ivel runs into the Great Ouse.  They were for centuries the same parish and form an attractive combination of low and high ground.  Chalton, a mere hamlet today, was once the important manor held by Adelaide, sister of William the Conqueror and mother of the Countess Judith.  The Domesday Book entry refers to Adeliz, wife of Hugh of Grandmesnil.

M “in Wixamtree Hundred Adelaide holds Chalton herself. It answers for 10 hides. Land for 10 ploughs.  In lordship 5 hides… King Edward held this manor.  It was Earl Tosti’s before 1066”
Domesday survey 1086


The village of Moggerhanger sits on the edge of the Great Ouse valley, enjoying panoramic views of the Greensand Ridge and Sandy Heath. Ravensden water tower, built in 1953, is visible in the distance.  A number of possible meanings for the place name have been suggested.  A descriptive one is ‘bog on the hill’, because wherever one digs, one finds water!

“An underground stream is reputed to run from Brown’s field, under the A603 and eventually to Barford Bridge. This was apparently authenticated when a water diviner came to Moggerhanger and, tracing the route, lifted a large stone on Wilsher’s smallholding to find fast running water beneath it. The stone was replaced to prevent the possibility of accidents..!”

The parish of Moggerhanger, which incorporates  Chalton and the area called South Mills, covers some 1815 acres. It was part of Blunham parish until enclosures forced a separation in 1796.

The estate has been associated with many interesting families, but the names Thornton and Dawkins have been of the greatest influence.

The parish is criss crossed with many delightful walks. The Kingfisher Way traces the river Ivel. South of the village, Budna leads to Northill parish and  to the north of the High Street, the Thornton Walk leads to Blunham.

The Estates

The Thornton family came to Bedfordshire in 1733. Godfrey Thornton was a director of the Bank of England He purchased the Moggerhanger Estate and employed Sir John Soane to redesign Moggerhanger House, now Park House, which was completed in 1805.  The estates of the Thorntons passed to the Rev. Henry Dawkins of  Over Norton. He and his family took up residence in Morhanger House in the 1850s.

Oak in Moggerhanger Park

A Copper Beech tree in Moggerhanger Park

The building was until recently called Park Hospital.  Set in beautiful parkland, the house, now known as Moggerhanger Park, has extensive grounds that include an ice house. The restaurant and conference centre welcomes visitors especially to enjoy the snowdrop and bluebell walks.

St Johns Palliative Care Home is on the east side of St Johns road. It was built in the 1850s by William Thornton as a shooting lodge. In 1977 Mrs Barbara Thornton sold it to the Sue Ryder Foundation and it is now a hospice serving a very large area.

Chalton Manor Farmhouse and dovecote were built in the Georgian style between 1735 and 1765. Pigeons from the dovecote provided the occupants with Squob Pie.

An 1822 police report states that “John Thomas and John Adams, fishmongers of Clerkenwell, were caught stealing pigeons from dovecotes in the area, found guilty and sentenced to seven years deportation”


The church of St John the Evangelist was built in 1860 to commemorate the Rev. Edward Henry Dawkins who died in 1859. Oak grown on the estate was used for the roof of the church and its walls are local sandstone from Kempston and Silsoe. His widow, Elizabeth, who commissioned the church in his memory,  was a great benefactor of the village.  In 2010 this pretty church is 150 years old.

Methodists Quarterly Minute Book –  27th March 1843

“It is suggested that a Wesleyan Chapel be built in Muggerhanger providing that it does not cost more than £100 which is to include land”

The village shop, run by volunteers, is in the church vestry and is open daily. Coffee is served to visitors every morning. This year is the tenth anniversary of the opening of the shop.

The Methodists and Baptists used to walk to Sandy or Blunham until 1928, when land for a chapel was provided by Mr Matthews of Village Farm.

Elizabeth Dawkins sold part of her land at Chalton Farm for a Railway Station at Blunham and provided land in 1861 for the village school on the site of the present village hall. In 1894 the school was enlarged by her son Edward Henry Frederick Dawkins to accommodate 60 pupils.

The present village school is now celebrating its 100th anniversary, for Miss Cartwright and her pupils moved from the old school building in 1911.

Printed from: .
© Riversmeet Hidden Britain 2019.