The 17th -19th centuries

The Presbyterians 1600s – 1700s:

Presbyterian worshipers persisted in Souldrop to the mid 1700s ‘…Presbyterianism, even in the limited form in which it had occurred in England, seems to have almost completely disappeared from Bedfordshire.

Souldroppe in 1666

Souldroppe in 1666

No more is known of the six congregations which had called themselves Presbyterian in 1672, but there was a probably short-lived congregation in Sharnbrook’. In 1763, ten men of Sharnbrook and Souldrop – with occupations such as baker, grocer, carpenter, or weaver – leased a barn for 21 years, to be used for worship, “by the people called Presbyterians.”.
Elsewhere in England at this time most Presbyterians had become Unitarian.’ ref 4 .

Souldrop Enclosure Act.

In the mid 1700s there was a concentration of ownership of land, and Souldrop was one of the parishes where Parliamentary enclosure took place. ref 4 .
The enclosure laws for Souldrop came into force in 1770 ref 6  The amount of open field land and common in the parish remaining to be closed was about half the area of Souldrop Parish. ref 4 .

The  hillside south of Souldrop village. The pre-enclosure Ridge and Furrow patterns are clearly visible in the meadows above the railway in this picture

The hillside south of Souldrop village. The pre-enclosure Ridge and Furrow patterns are clearly visible in the meadows above the railway in this picture (click the image for larger view)

From the bridge at the bottom of Back lane looking towards Windmill Hill. Further pre-enclosure Ridge and Furrow can be identified in the field-markings.

From the bridge at the bottom of Back lane looking towards Windmill Hill. Further pre-enclosure Ridge and Furrow can be identified in the field-markings. At one time nearly every Souldroper would have worked their furlongs in the surrounding area.

Souldrop was enclosed by an Act of Parliament in 1770, when the open fields consisted of 350 acres, and the waste or common known as Souldrop Wold of 150 acres. Colworth Thicket is was a wood of some size in the south of the parish. ref 2 .
Souldrop Tithe Document: 1842
Souldrop Inclosure Map Record

After Enclosure:

The village pound was allowed to disappear to make way for some new houses, as was the beautiful waterwheel at the entrance to Church Farm. The villagers fetched their water from this source for many years. ref 1 .

Souldrop in 1847

Souldrop in 1847

The building of the village school began in 1867, opening for infants opened, in 1868. It was
founded by the Duke of Bedford and designed by Henry Clutton who had also designed the church.
In the same year, The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland mentioned that the village was wholly agricultural, with some women making lace.

The Duke of Bedford sold Knotting and Souldrop in 1882, just after he had sold Houghton Regis in 1880 – his attention being taken with other land acquisitions. ref 4 .

Next: People of Souldrop

© Ella Jo Street

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