The Newport Pagnell Historical Society has its headquarters and museum at Chandos Hall in Silver Street, Newport Pagnell. Chandos Hall is an historic building in the town, because  until 1994 it was owned by The Oddfellows Society and was used by their society as a branch meeting lodge for their members. The Oddfellows Society is 200 years old and is steeped in history. As a result the Historical Society is highly honoured to own such an iconic building in Newport Pagnell’s history. On this site there is a detailed account of the acquisition of Chandos Hall and also of the history of The Oddfellows Society.  The Historical Society has in trust items relating to the Oddfellows and they can be seen when visiting the Museum.

In the centre of Newport Pagnell is Silver Street. The Newport Pagnell Historical Society headquarters and museum is just after the       Bury Street junction as you walk down Silver Street from St. John Street. Walking down, you will come to a narrow alleyway on your right called Chandos Court, which is between numbers 52 and 54. Down this alleyway you will come to Chandos Hall to your right. On the outside of the building is a plaque, which explains that this former chapel became the local Oddfellows Friendly Society branch meeting place and headquarters. The branch built the houses in the court. The Oddfellows Society granted permission for the newly-formed Newport Pagnell Historical Society to acquire Chandos Hall as its headquarters and museum. Once the Historical Society took over the building it was soon obvious, that restoration was needed and that this was a priority. Over the years the stairs to the upper floor were replaced. the upper floor was extended to provide more room for exhibiting, an office was set up and this has doubled as a store for Society artefacts and documents, a kitchen was installed and also a toilet and outside store room. The Society has also invested in a variety of display cabinets. Chandos Hall has over the years been used for Society members’ meetings, but now all indoor meetings take place at the United Reformed Church in the High Street. The Hall now is only used for regularly-changed Society exhibitions and small-group meetings. The main role of the Museum is to store and preserve the items loaned or donated to the Society; and to put on exhibitions of these items, using themes relevant to the history and heritage of Newport Pagnell. The Museum has in the past put on exhibitions on the following themes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Newport Pagnell’s railway, Renny Lodge, local sports and leisure, Newport at war and the history of the town’s car industry, including the Aston Martin factory. Recently the committee have been drastically overhauling the Society’s collection of artefacts and documents.
Displays                                                                                                                                                                                  The Society is particularly proud of its photograph collection and some of these go back to the earliest photographs being taken in the area. There is also for instance a substantial collection of items relating to Taylor’s Mustard manufacturing and to the breweries in the town. The Society is also proud to have memorabilia relating to The Oddfellows Society, whose former meeting Hall and headquarters the Society now owns: and to Salmons’ business which eventually became Aston Martin, two names which the town is very proud to be associated with. Newport Pagnell’s past includes the arrival and departure of transport by coach and horse, canal and rail. The collection contains records of all three. The last of these was last seen in the 1960s. Newport Pagnell also featured in the earliest development of the motorway, the M1.

We are always very pleased to receive new items relating to Newport Pagnell and to add these to the collection for the benefit of the town. It is usually not possible to borrow artefacts, documents or books from the collection. However, if there is a special need, accommodation for this can be organised. Either by appointment at a time to suit or at our open afternoons once a month on a Sunday. When there is the chance to talk to members of the Society’s committee about items in the collection, though it may not always be possible to show items that are not part of the current exhibition unless there has been prior notice.

Ancient Order of Foresters

Order of Foresters

In the museum we have heritage items relating to the Ancient Order of Foresters. The Ancient Order of Foresters is a Friendly Society which was formed in 1834. The society is now known as Foresters Friendly Society, and provides its members with insurance policies against sickness and death. There are also policies for children, under the ‘teddy trust fund’. In addition to this, it is also the provider of group insurance to several Police forces in the United Kingdom, the Police Service of Northern Ireland being one of the largest. The society has approximately 120,000 members.


In 1874 the American and Canadian Foresters seceded from the Ancient Order of Foresters (A.O.F.) and set up the Independent Order of Foresters (I.O.F.). Their UK head-office is in Bromley, Greater London.

The society became incorporated on the 1st January 2003, in accordance with the provisions of The Friendly Societies Act 1992, and since this date they have taken over two smaller Friendly Societies, the first being the Tunstall Assurance Society, the second being Leek Friendly Society.

The society had a few Courts, which used to be pure ritual-based Courts that performed the Ancient Ritual of the Society. The most famous was Court LUD No. 10,100, which was formed in 1947, by members of the London District Management Committee. However, owing to lack of members, this Court was closed in 2004.

The Society has available to see:-

The Ancient Order of Foresters’ origins lie in a much older society called the Royal Foresters formed in the 18th century. Meeting in Leeds, this seems at first to have been a purely sociable society until the members decided that they had a duty to assist their fellow men who fell into need “as they walked through the forests of life”. This ‘need’ arose principally when a breadwinner fell ill, could not work and, therefore, received no wages. Illness and death left families financially distressed and often destitute. Relief of this need has been the main purpose of the Foresters throughout their long history. It was achieved by members paying, initially, a few pence a week into a common fund from which sick pay and funeral grants could be drawn.

The key moments in the Society’s history:-

1834 In August 1834 in Rochdale, over 300 branches of the Royal Foresters society (established in the 18th century) transfer their allegiance to the new Ancient Order of Foresters. George Mandley becomes the first High Chief Ranger. 1835 First High Court (AGM) at Salford Town Hall, with 285 branches represented. 1839 – 1840 The first Welsh, Irish and Scottish branches are founded (‘Welshman’s Friend’ No 841, ‘Pride of the North’ No 1070 and ‘Banks of Clyde’ No 1109). 1842 David Redfearn is elected as the Order’s first Permanent Secretary. Less than 3 months later, he had ‘done a runner’ to New York with some of the Society’s money and an Executive Council member’s wife. 1843 Samuel Shawcross is elected the second Permanent Secretary. He becomes the longest-serving person in this role, being at the heart of Foresters and general friendly society developments for the next 46 years. 1850 Foresters attains legal status under the new Friendly Societies Act. 1864 Members set up the first voluntary Lifeboat Fund. By June it raises £225, and by December the first lifeboat paid for by the fund – aptly named ‘Forester’ – commences its duties. 1884 The Society celebrates its Jubilee year at the AGM in Manchester. 1893 The first female branch, Court ‘Martha Blakeney’ No 8108, opens in Sheffield. Martha Blakeney was the wife of Archdeacon J E Blakeney, A Canon of York. 1898 The first mixed male and female branch is approved, with 292 delegates voting for the proposition and 213 voting against it. 1912 After the National Insurance Act of 1911, Foresters becomes an ‘Approved Society’, allowing it to get involved in the state system of National Insurance. It can now accept individuals contributing to the state scheme as members which virtually doubles the total membership of the Society. 1918 The Foresters’ War Memorial Benevolent Fund is established to provide financial assistance to members and their families who have been severely affected by the losses of the First World War. 1934 Centenary celebrations include a thanksgiving service, held simultaneously at over 500 locations on 3rd June 1934. Some 1,135 delegates attend the AGM at the Albert Hall in Nottingham, including visitors from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Holland and the United States. 1959 The 125th anniversary of the Society is celebrated at the Aberdeen AGM. 1971 E M J ‘Jenny’ Rivett is appointed the first female High Chief Ranger. Jenny attended her fist AGM in 1928. 1984 Over 600 members attend the 150th anniversary celebrations at the AGM in Scarborough. This is preceded by a World Conference of Foresters, at which numerous members are present, with over 2,000 Foresters filling York Minster. The voluntary Educational Awards scheme, which continues to this day, is approved and adopted by delegates. 1988 Payments by the Foresters’ War Memorial Benevolent reach £1 million. 1994 A ‘pilgrimage’ of more than 1,000 Foresters visit the grave of Little John, who some argue was one of the first Royal Foresters, at Hathersage in Derbyshire. 2000 The Society starts to become regulated by the Financial Services Authority. 2003 Foresters acquires Tunstall Assurance Friendly Society, followed by the Leek Assurance Collecting Society in 2005 2009 Foresters celebrates its 175th anniversary at the AGM in Manchester, close to where it all began.


In the Museum there is an example of an Edwardian pram. It is well worth looking at closely. It is one of the museum’s special items and it was donated to the Society after being used in the locality.                      The history of the pram is an interesting one and is outlined below.                                                                      The Perambulator, to give it its correct name, is basically an old fashioned traditional style coach-built carriage. This is the alternative to a pushchair, which is the British version of a stroller. The pram was invented at the end of the nineteenth century and was made presentable by Queen Victoria. The appearance of this rolling vehicle into baby-care was a logical consequence of the common child-rearing practices of the more affluent classes of society at that time. It was quite usual in wealthy families to have their children raised by nurses and nannies, often completely outside of the family circle. Not having to look after your own children as parents was a sign of a household with sufficient staff that would take over the child-rearing chores. The poorer members of society had to rely on unconventional means to transport their children, such as slings or coats transformed in a way to make carrying easier. There is no doubt of the advantage these buggies brought; with their ability to be pushed from the rear, allowing the infant to be in eyesight at all times. Steering could in the early days be difficult, with wheels appearing to have a mind of their own, but modern prams are now effectively four wheel drive, making it a reasonably stress free practice – unless the infant is playing up that is! Creative engineering sees the pram developing significantly from early versions; these days it is possible to get innovative buggies which possess 2 separate sets of wheels. Carriage built prams, or coach built as they are also referred to, are a style of perambulator which is built like the coaches which preceded them in history. Wide, high bodies, with large folding hoods are their characteristic, as is a traditional suspension, either using springs, spring leaves, or leather straps to suspend the body of the pram on the frame. Carriage built prams have connectors which allow the carriage body to be removed from a frame, or to be rotated to face toward or away from the handles. These carriage built prams also have arms on the hood (usually of metal) which allow it to be locked into open an position. Releasing the bows allows the hood to open and lie in a folded position. There is a system of straps, usually somewhat like a vest, which acts as a harness and is used to keep the baby or toddler anchored in carriage built prams or pushchair. These may be built into the vehicle, or could be a separate accessory. A fabric or vinyl or a combination of both shield, covers over the open top of carriages body, usually offering protection from all weathers. The carriage built prams are usually very comfortable and roomy for the baby, allowing it to lay flat. The chassis of the carriage built prams are vital; a need for a soft spring suspension is important, as the baby needs a smooth ride. Antique wicker prams are nowadays very popular and much sought after. The antique wicker prams are often lined with satin ribbon for an extra touch. They can commonly be found with brightly coloured accents, with wooden wheels on a metal rim and wooden handles. Frequently these antique wicker prams will be decorated with stencilling and come with port hole canopies.

Below is a link to some pictures of other Newport places

NPHS town pictures

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