[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]
"BIGGLESWADE, a parish and market town in the hundred of Biggleswade, in the county of Bedford, 10 miles to the S.E, of Bedford, and 45 miles to the north of London, or 41 miles by the Great Northern railway, on which it is a station. It is seated in a pleasant country on the east bank of the navigable river Ivel, about 8 miles above its confluence with the Ouse. The river is crossed by a stone bridge. Holme and Stratton are hamlets of this parish. Most of the houses in the town, which is now well drained and lighted with gas, are of modern erection, and well built, a large part of the old houses having been burnt down in 1785. The surrounding district is fertile, and the inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agricultural pursuits, and in market gardening. The general trade and prosperity of the place is greatly promoted by its position on the great line of communication with the North by road and rail, and on the river Ivel, which communicates through the Ouse with the sea. Many of the female inhabitants are employed in lace-making and the manufacture of straw-plait. Biggleswade is the seat of a Poor-law Union and a County Court district, and petty sessions are held here by the county magistrates. Polling for the county elections takes place here. The town contains a handsome townhall, built in 1844, the Union poorhouse, and a savings-bank. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Ely, of the value of £348, in the gift of the bishop. The church, formerly collegiate, is an ancient edifice in the early English style of architecture, founded about 1230, and partly rebuilt in 1467. It is dedicated to St. Andrew, and had a chantry attached to it. It contains some brasses of 1449, and a monument to John Ruding, Archdeacon of Bedford in the 15th century, by whom the chancel was rebuilt. His arms were carved on some of the ancient seats, which were removed in 1832, when the church was thoroughly repaired, and two new galleries added. There are chapels belonging to the Calvinists, Wesleyan Methodists, and Baptists. The charitable endowments amount to £205 per annum, the chief, part of which is the produce of a bequest by Sir John Cotton in 1726, for a school and other benevolent purposes. There is a small free school at Holme, founded in 1557 by Edward Peake, which has an endowment of £13. National, British, and infant schools are also established, and a mechanics' institution. The manor of Biggleswade was formerly held by the crown. An interesting discovery was made in a field at Stratton, in 1770, of an earthern jar containing 300 gold coins of Henry VI. They were of rather larger size than the half-crown, but much thinner. The market, chiefly for corn, is held on Wednesday, and fairs on the 74th February, the Saturday after Easter, Whit Monday, the 2nd August, and the 8th November, for the sale of nurses, cattle, &c. The parish has an area of 4,310 acres."
"HOLME, a hamlet in the parish and hundred of Biggleswade, county Bedford, 1 mile south of Biggleswade."
"STRATTON, a hamlet in the parish and hundred of Biggleswade, county Bedford, 1 mile south east of Biggleswade, on the Roman way to Sandy. It is joined to Holme."
The church of St. Andrew is an edifice of sandstone, in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, south porch and an embattled western tower, rebuilt in 1720, and containing a clock and 5 bells : the chancel, rebuilt in 1467, by John Ruding, retains its piscina and sedilia for three priests; but the former has no basin and is now used as a credence table; a beautiful alter-piece, representing the "Last Supper," was presented by Charles Barnett esq. in 1865 : a reredos was added in 1877 : there are several brasses, one of which, to John Ruding, a former archdeacon of Bedford, has unfortunately been much mutilated, and the representation of an angel conversing with Death has disappeared: the lofty south porch, now much dilapidated, has interlaced stone vaulting, and a parvise above, formerly used as a school and reached from the exterior by a spiral stone stair : the outer doorway has an ogival arch, surmounted by a carved representation of the "Crucifixion" : in the church is a marble memorial to Thomas Bromsall, d. 1706, and there are mural tablets to Harriet, daughter of Admiral Sir Richard King and wife of Brigadier-General Charles Barnet, and to Thos. McGrath F.R.C.P. Edin. and his wife : the stained east window was erected in 1877 to Charles Barnett esq. of Stratton Park, and there are other memorial windows to Robert Lindsell esq. and Frances, his wife, to Mrs. Lindsell, of Fairfield, C. Fitzroy Barnett esq. of Stratton Park, and to Geo. J. Barnett, d. 1892 : the chancel has been enlarged by the Rev. Henry Thellusson Wood M.A. vicar here; 1884-9 ; the fine reredos of Venetian mosaic was designed by Mr. Withers, architect, of London : in 1892 a new organ was added at a cost of £680, raised by public subscription : the church was restored in 1832, and more completely in 1871, and now affords sittings for 800 persons. The register dates from the year 1670.
The church of St. John the Baptist, at the north end of the town, built in 1883, at a cost of £2,985, exclusive of the site, is an edifice of brick in the Lancet style, from the designs of Sir A. W. Blomfield M.A., A.R.A., F.S.A. consisting of chancel, nave, south aisle, north porch, and a central turret containing 3 bells: the stained east window is a memorial to Sir Charles Talbot K.C.B. and Lady Talbot, and was erected in 1883 by the members of the family : there is a piscina (used as a credence table) and sedilia for two priests : the church affords 400 sittings. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
There are Strict Baptist, Baptist, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels, and a meeting place for the Salvation Army. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]
The Biggleswade History Society The society was formed on 24th March 1975 and has continued to flourish over the years. The Society's objective is to promote the advancement of public education throught the study of local and family history in and around Biggleswade. From September to May they meet on the first Tuesday in each month at 7.45pm for an 8 p.m. start at Millennium House, Shortmead Street, Biggleswade. For the three meetings of June to August they arrange local walks or visits. A newsletter is produced monthly and circulated to all members and affiliated societies. They also hold exhibitions throughout the year and details of these can be found on their website. The society was formed on 24th March 1975 and has continued to flourish over the years. The Society's objective is to promote the advancement of public education throught the study of local and family history in and around Biggleswade. From September to May they meet on the first Tuesday in each month at 7.45pm for an 8 p.m. start at Millennium House, Shortmead Street, Biggleswade. For the three meetings of June to August they arrange local walks or visits. A newsletter is produced monthly and circulated to all members and affiliated societies. They also hold exhibitions throughout the year and details of these can be found on their website.