Billington is a Parish in Bedfordshire approximately 2 miles from Leighton Buzzard. It comprises Gt Billington, divided by the A4146 and Little Billington, a hamlet to the west of the parish. Billington is mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086 and was recorded in 1196 as Billendon (the "don", now corrupted to "ton" refers to the Hill or Down) and over the years has experienced many variations of this name.
On the top of Billington Hill, on the west side of the A4146, is the attractive parish church of St Michael and All Angels, whose origins date back to th 13th century. An Iron Fort once occupied the site. The current Church was originally a small medieval chapel built of sandstone and limestone from nearby Totternhoe.
At the time, parishioners in the hamlets were expected to attend their Parish Church, which was All Saints in Leighton Buzzard. During the Winter, or in bad weather, this journey proved very difficult and the hamlets petitioned the Bishop of Lincoln (Billington was then in the huge Diocese of Lincoln) for permission to build themselves "Chapels of Ease" where Mass could be said, and in the case of Billington, Baptisms could take place when unable to reach All Saints. All marriages and burials had to take place at All Saints and there was no burial ground in Billington until 1806. It remained a Chapel of Ease until the late 1860's when the chapel was enlarged into a church and a rectory built next to it. This was when Billington was first recorded as a parish in its own right - 1869.
The bell turret of the church came to the church second hand in 1868, from St Barnabas in Linslade which was being enlarged. Inside this simple but pretty church, there was a small stained glass window in the west wall commemorating Edward Bradshaw, the first rector. The only medieval survivals are the blank west window and a piscina (small basin) inside which was used for washing the communion plate near the alter on the south side.
There are splendid views from its commanding position towards Leighton Buzzard and surrounding countryside, and in the distance, on the far side of the A505 bypass, new housing is being built on what were once green fields.
Points of interest along the A4146 include The Old School House built in the mid 19th centry which closed its doors in the 50's; The Cock Inn, a picturesque thatched public house over 400 years old (now renamed), which finally closed it doors in the 1920s; Billington Manor built by Arthur Macnamara, which boasted a point to point course where Edward 8th - then Prince of Wales, broke his collar bone whilst horse riding and 16th century Walkers Farm - all now family homes.
The area comprised farm land and coprolite fields. Many plum orchards existed then and to a smaller extent today. At that time they provided dye for the hat industry and jam or chutney for the population.
At one time the village boasted two public houses, a post office and bakery - all now closed and converted to houses.
In spite of the lack of its own shop, school, puplic house or other amenities, the village has a thriving community life. In addition to the Church, a key community centre is the Village Hall - built in 1968, with its adjacent green, tennis courts and childrens play area. Allotments were recently added and a wild flower meadow planted.
An interesting website for more detailed information about Billington is one hosted by Central BedfordshireCouncil: http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/Billington/BillingtonManor.aspx (Sources, Wikipedia, Village Archives).