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BIGGLESWADE

[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."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson 2003

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