The known history of Wicken is long and varied. Records show that Wicken, rated at 40 shillings, was part of the Saxon freehold of Siward who hunted deer in Wicken forest. After the Norman Conquest Wicken was given to the Baron Mano (or Maino) by William the conqueror. Mano appears in the Domesday Survey (c1085) but the family later adopted the surname of Wolverton.
Sir John Spencer of Wormleighton, (ancestor of the late Diana, Princess of Wales), moved to Wicken in 1514 and built the original house at Wicken Park around 1571.
The Manor House, once the occasional residence of the Spencer family, stood South West of the churchyard. It was deserted and taken down about the commencement of the last century and part of the offices transformed into a respectable farmhouse. Over the door are the arms of Spencer, but no date.
For two hundred years the estate passed down through the Spencer family until the death of Lord Robert Spencer’s wife, Anne Countess of Sutherland. Charles Hosier, who made his money in the city of London as a Gold Throster, bought Wicken in 1716/17 from Lord John Spencer of Sutherland paying £14,810 for the estate.
In 1758 Thomas Prowse built the nave of St John the Evangelist Church as it can be seen today; though he died before the building was complete.
From 1810 it appears that Wicken Park was leased to Lord Charles Fitzroy, who lived there until his death in 1829 and is buried in the churchyard.
In 1844 Queen Victoria visited Stowe. The Illustrated London News dated January 18th 1845 describes the part of her journey, which passed Wicken village.
Wicken’s first listed rector, Henry, was presented in 1218 – and although no-one knew it at the time, the last rector was installed in 1934, Paul Henry Hoskin, who remained rector until he retired in the 1970s.
So many aspects of the village’s life are supported by volunteers today. In the twenty first century we don’t have to collect water from standpipes, but those without transport need help from those with cars to reach a shop.
Increasingly the Parish Council must take up cudgels on behalf of those who elect it over such matters as planning and use of the roads. One group of volunteers care for the Parish Hall - others are involved in the Wicken Sports Club. Wicken Senior Club continues to provide entertainment and support for elderly villagers.
The aim of one group of volunteers, the Wicken Conservation Society, is “to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of local features of historic or public interest.”
Further details on the History of the area can be found on the British History Online website.