Little Marlow

This parish is to the north and east of Marlow. There was some activity here in the prehistoric period. A Palaeolithic handaxe was found in Well End or Bourne End gravel pit and Neolithic blades and flakes were found next to a gravel pit south of Little Marlow. Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age flint flakes were found in an evaluation at Abbotsbrook, Bourne End. The Thames is always a good source of prehistoric finds and several were found at the Upper Thames Sailing Club in the 1890s. These included Neolithic flint cores, flakes, axes, and arrowhead and a scraper. A ring-ditch that may be the remains of a ploughed out Neolithic or Bronze Age barrow is recorded on an aerial photograph of a field near Hard-to-Find Farm. Other cropmarks may be prehistoric, such as the complex at Burroughs Grove and an enclosure, also near Hard-to-Find Farm, but their date is uncertain. Mounds in Warren Wood are also of uncertain date and function.

 

Three burnt mounds were excavated in advance of sand and gravel extraction west of Little Marlow on either side of a stream that led to the Thames. These had been used one by one, moving northwards through time. The earliest burnt mound was Late Neolithic in date and the latest was Early to Middle Bronze Age. The burnt mounds were made up of spreads of burnt flint with one or two hollows that may have held water for heating. The latest burnt mound had a few holes where posts had been and may have supported an awning for a sauna. Burnt mounds are usually interpreted either as cooking or bathing sites.

 

Two Roman pottery sherds were found south of Little Marlow, a Roman coin has been found somewhere in the parish and several were found at Hard-to-Find Farm. A Late Iron Age to Roman settlement made up of ditches, pits and post-holes of houses with associated pottery was found in a field north of Fern House. No Saxon remains have been found at all.

 

Vertical aerial photograph of Westhorpe House and grounds in the 1940sThere were several manors in Little Marlow in the medieval period. These include Little Marlow itself, Losemere and Monkton. A watermill and fishery are recorded as being attached to Little Marlow manor in the Domesday Book. Little Marlow House is sixteenth century with later alterations. Monkton Farm is probably the manor house and is of late medieval date. It is cruck-built and timber-framed and was enlarged in the sixteenth century and then altered a great deal in later centuries. A fourteenth century floor tile was unearthed here. There is also a thirteenth century moat in Warren Wood. Medieval ridge-and-furrow was identified on aerial photographs of a field next to Morton’s Hole Cottage. A possibly medieval hollow-way was also seen on an aerial photograph of a quarry near Westhorpe House. Little Marlow Priory is known from thirteenth to sixteenth century records. When excavated the nunnery was found to date back to the twelfth century. Excavations uncovered lots of pottery and building stone as well as a stone coffin and fragments of stone effigies. The nunnery had its own church, which was also located in excavation. The complex was surrounded by a moat. The oldest surviving building in Little Marlow is St John the Baptist church, which started out life as a chapel in the twelfth century before being rebuilt as a church in the thirteenth.

 

Other listed buildings in the parish are later in date, from Hard-to-Find Farm which was built in the sixteenth century, but may have reused stone from elsewhere (the priory, perhaps?), to Fern House, which was built in the eighteenth century as a workhouse, then turned into a lace factory and is now a house, and Westhorpe House, which was built in the nineteenth century. It was also the site of a prisoner-of-war camp in the Second World War. The Old Malt House was a maltings. Several gravel pits are recorded on nineteenth century maps of the parish. The coming of the railways made a small impression on Little Marlow, with the building of a railway bridge at Spring Lane.