The name of Aspley Guise is believed to be derived from Aspen-Leigh meaning clearing in the aspen (alder) woods and from the de Guise family who owned much of the land during Tudor times and are best known through Mary de Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots.
Aspley Guise has its origins in 1086, listed in the Domesday Book with 25 families. The next 700 years saw little growth - just 82 families living here by 1782. During the Industrial Revolution, many villages saw populations decline as people sought work in the towns, but Aspley Guise continued to grow with over 1600 residents by 1901. This was because Aspley Guise was a ‘open’ village with a fluid land market and a high proportion of ‘genteel’ families who in turn generated employment in service and cottage industries.
During the Second World War Aspley Guise was home to several 'Top Secret' facilities - mostly connected with the code-breaking operations at Bletchley Park and 'black-propaganda' broadcasting to occupied Europe from Woburn Abbey. Rumours abound about regular visits by Churchill and General de Gaulle and even that Rudolph Hess was initially interrogated here.
Today, Aspley Guise retains this mixed profile of residents, small businesses and larger organisations providing a busy and opportunistic environment. In the village today you will find, businesses, schools, leisure facilities and a thriving population of 2,300 residents.
If you are interested in the history of Aspley Guise and preserving its healthy future. Please contact the Woburn Sands & District Society, who are keepers of the fascinating photographic Village Archive and offer a range of publications and photographic resources documenting the history of the village. (http://www.woburnsandsanddistrictsociety.org/default.asp)
If you fancy an interesting walk around the village Nina Montgomery has written a well researched and informative piece which can accompany your wanderings and give you insights into little known parts of the village.
Recently a DVD was made which captured the memories of village residents going back over the last hundred years and which can be seen online here:
Some interesting historic photographs of Aspley Guise and other local parts of Bedfordshire and East Buckinghamshire can be found at external Ampthill Images Website: