History

Cranford Lane Gate
Cranford Lane Gate

Though there is evidence of human habitation as early as the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age, the earliest records date back more than a thousand years to 1045, when Cranford was a Saxon settlement. The church is mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1220 the estate divided into two parts, Cranford St. John and Cranford le Mote.

Looking south from St Dunstan's Church
Looking south from St Dunstan’s Church

 

The manor house bearing the latter name, north-east of the church, belonged to the Abbot of Thame for 300 years and was demolished in 1540.

In the 13th and 14th centuries Cranford St. John was owned by two medieval knight societies, the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitallers, forerunners of the St. John Ambulance. Later, in 1604, the park was purchased by Sir Roger Aston who served King James I as Barber and Keeper of the Great Wardrobe.

The Bell Tower, and West Entrance
The Bell Tower, and West Entrance

For 300 years from 1618, the park was owned by the Earls of Berkeley who established an extensive house, entertaining royalty, landscaping the grounds and maintaining the horses and hounds of the Berkeley Hunt.

During the 1800s Mary Cole, later Countess of Berkeley, was a intriguing figure who was married twice to the Fifth Earl. In 1932 the park was sold to the local authority. Though the house was demolished in 1945, important historical features, such as the 18th century stables, cellars and river bridge, remain within this beautiful green space much loved by the local community.

 

Find a detailed description of the park here