HELMDON is situated some 6½ miles west of Towcester and 3 miles to the north of Brackley. Local amenities include a church, primary school, public house and general store. Further shopping, leisure and schooling facilities are available at Towcester and Brackley with more comprehensive amenities at Northampton and Milton Keynes. Communications in the area are excellent with the M1 accessed at Junction 15A and the M40 at the Junction of the A43 between Brackley and Oxford. There is a main line rail service between Milton Keynes and London Euston which takes 40 minutes. Leisure facilities include golf at Farthingstone, West Park, Whittlebury and Silverstone, motor racing at Silverstone, hunting with the Grafton Hunt and steeple chasing at Towcester.
There is a population of around 960 and used to be a farming community, catering mostly for its own needs. From the early 18th century there was also a thriving lace industry. Today people go to work chiefly in the towns around, such as Banbury and Northampton, and even to London. It has a nine-member parish council.
Records date the beginnings of the village back to the Anglo-Saxon era. Its toponym means "Helma's Valley" and is recorded in the Domesday Book as "Elme Dene". At that time it belonged to the Robert, Count of Mortain, half-brother of William the Conqueror.
The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary Magdalene dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries and has been restored several times since. Prior to the Reformation it was dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The oldest of the six bells in the tower dates from 1679. In the churchyard is a yew tree estimated to be 1,700 years old.
Historically the village developed along Church Street, Wappenham Road and Cross Lane. A village based on agriculture is clearly identified by the number of former and continuing farmhouses in the village, which run into double figures.
For many centuries stone-quarrying was the major industry in the village, with evidence of its existence going back to the 14th century; a stained-glass window in the north wall commemorates stonemason William Campiun at work in 1313. In the 18th century lace-making was a significant business, with up to a quarter of the village women being lace-makers.
The village at one time had four public houses: The Bell, The Chequers, The Magpie (which some accounts refer to as the Cock and Magpie) and The Cross. The Bell was originally named The King William, but was renamed because it was closest to the church, and is the only remaining pub, with The Magpie and The Cross converted into houses, and The Chequers demolished and subsequently built on.
The Reading Room was originally a men's meeting place as an alternative to the pub. This Victorian building was given to the village by Charles Fairbrother in 1887. Around the time of World War I women started using it. Today it is the village hall.
Helmdon had two railway stations: the first, in its latter years called Helmdon Village, was on the former Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway between Stratford-upon-Avon and Towcester mentioned above. British Railways closed it in April 1952. The second station was on the former Great Central Main Line, opened in March 1899. The line crossed the nine-arch Helmdon Viaduct over the River Tove to the west of the village. The Great Central Railway station was sometimes called Helmdon for Sulgrave, although Sulgrave village is 2 miles (3 km) away. BR closed the station in March 1963 and the line in September 1966. The viaduct still stands.
School Achieves Solid Marks From OFSTED
Helmdon Primary School has been officially graded as a "Good" school by OFSTED.
The inspection, the first for five years, took place on 16 and 17 January 2012.
In 2006 the school was considered to be a "Good" school and so it continues to be today. Only 8% of primary schools achieve the top OFSTED ranking of "Outstanding", but more than 40% score "Satisfactory" or lower, so Helmdon Primary School's performance is commendable.
Several strengths were identified including a staff team that is hard working under the good leadership of the headteacher, and pupils who are attentive in lessons and have good attitudes to work.
The only areas for improvement noted by the inspectors were progress in writing and pupils not always being sure how to be really successful in their activities.
Under the current inspection system, Helmdon Primary School will next be inspected in 2016/17.
CountyConnect is a new type of bus service that goes where and when you want within the designated areas. County Connect will take you to or from any designated pick-up point to any other in each village or town. You can go from village to village as well as to your local town. You are able to connect to regular bus and rail services that will take you longer distances.
There is no fixed timetable as it changes every day, so you need to pre-book. The bus cannot pick you up without a booking.
You can phone, email or text the dedicated booking team. Bookings can be made up to an hour before you need to travel (subject to availability) and up to a week in advance. It is ‘first come first served’, so the more notice you give, the more likely you are to get your requested booking.
Fares are charged based on the distance travelled, like any other bus service. Your concessionary travel pass will also be valid after 9.30am on Monday to Friday and all day Saturdays.
For further information, and to register to use the service visit the CountyConnect web site. http://www.county-connect.co.uk/
Mobile library arrives monthly in Helmdon. See the village website for dates and times.