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The Community of Upper Dean in General

Countryside at Upper Dean May 2011
Countryside at Upper Dean May 2011


Upper Dean stands, as the name suggests, a little higher than Lower Dean to the north, though not by much. The church is about 183 feet above sea-level, the Three Compasses about 187 and the old windmill stands about 215 feet above sea-level.

The solid, or underlying, geology is a mudstone called Oxford Clay Formation. This was laid down in the Jurassic Period, between 154 and 164 million years ago, in warm shallow seas. Along the River Til is a superficial deposit of alluvium, a mixture of sand, gravel, clay and silt. The superficial geology east and west of the village, including the area of the windmill is called Oadby Member, a diamicton. Superficial geology was all laid down in the last two million years on top of the solid geology.

Upper Dean sign May 2011
Upper Dean sign May 2011


Dean is a modernisation of the Anglo-Saxon word “denu” meaning valley. In this case it would be the valley of a tributary stream joining the River Til at Lower Dean.

The church from the south-west May 2011
The church from the south-west May 2011

Administrative History

The village of Upper Dean was a hamlet of the parish of Dean. Dean is an ancient parish. In 1934 the civil parish was joined with neighbouring Shelton to form the parish of Dean and Shelton. The ecclesiastical parish of Dean remains separate but is included in the Team Ministry of the Stodden Churches with the ecclesiastical parishes of Shelton, Swineshead, Pertenhall, Melchbourne and Yielden. Dean is bordered by Shelton to the north-west, Yielden to the west, Melchbourne top the south, Swineshead to the south-east, Tilbrook (once in Bedfordshire but, since 1897 in Huntingdonshire then Cambridgeshire) to the east and north-east, Covington[Cambridgeshire] to the north and Hargrave [Northamptonshire] to the north-north-west.

Lodge Farmhouse May 2011
Lodge Farmhouse May 2011


Dean is not a large parish today but was more populous in the past. In 1086 Domesday Book recorded a total of 41 people. These were just the heads of household and the figure should probably be multiplied by a factor of four to give the true figure – somewhere around 160 people. Given that the population of England was only between 1,500,000 and 2,500,000 at that time Dean was obviously a much larger place proportionately than it was in 1801 when the country’s population was over 8,000,000.

The parish had over five hundred people between 1831 and 1871, after which families began to get smaller and people began to leave the land for a number of reasons and seek employment in the nearby towns. The population figures for Dean (both Upper and Lower) below are taken from census reports until 1931, the figures from 1951 being for Dean and Shelton combined.

  • 1801: 385;
  • 1811: 428;
  • 1821: 479;
  • 1831: 513;
  • 1841: 541;
  • 1851: 547;
  • 1861: 552;
  • 1871: 575;
  • 1881: 487;
  • 1891: 406;
  • 1901: 344;
  • 1911: 342;
  • 1921: 339;
  • 1931: 277

For Dean and Shelton:

  • 1951: 333;
  • 1961: 309;
  • 1971: 312;
  • 1981: 328;
  • 1991: 371;
  • 2001: 386;
  • 2011: 418.