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WOBURN

[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]

"WOBURN, a parish and market town in the hundred of Manshead, county Beds, 15 miles south west of Bedford, and 7 north of Leighton-Buzzard. At Woburn sands is a station on the Bletchley branch of the London and North-Western railway. The town occupies an eminence on the London and Leeds road. It has twice been nearly destroyed by fire, once in the 16th and again in the 18th centuries, and consists of four broad streets nearly a quarter of a mile long, well paved and lighted. Near the centre of the town, at the intersection of Leighton and Park Streets, stand the townhall and market house, erected by the late Duke of Bedford in 1830, and adjoining is a fountain, or reservoir, for supplying water in case of fire, constructed at the expense of the Duke of Bedford. The ducal seat, Woburn Abbey, was originally founded in 1145 by Hugh de Bolebec for monks of the Cistercian order, but was given by Edward VI. in 1549, with a great part of the lands, to John, first Earl of Bedford.

In the middle of the last century it was almost entirely rebuilt by Flitcroft, and has since undergone considerable alterations and enlargements. The principal state-rooms are in the west front, which is of the Ionic order, and is approached from London by a facade with Ionic three-quarter columns, surmounted by the ducal arms and crest. The library is 56 feet by 23; and the sculpture gallery, formed by the late Duke, 138 feet by 25, contains the group of the Graces by Canova, the Lanti, or Bedford vase, 13 Etruscan vases, and some of the finest works of Chantrey, Westmacott, and Thorwalsden, besides many specimens of ancient sculpture, a collection of paintings by the great masters, and upwards of 300 portraits.

The park-farm, belonging to the abbey, is a school of scientific agriculture. There is a literary and scientific institution, which holds its meetings at the townhall. Petty sessions for the hundred of Manshead are held weekly. The Poor-law Union of Woburn comprises 16 parishes, which form a separate superintendent registry, but are included in the Leighton-Buzzard new county-court district. The living is a donative curacy, value £250. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, and built by Abbot Hobbs, whom Henry VIII. hanged on a low pollard, still standing in the park, and known as Abbot's oak, was pulled down three years ago, and a cemetery chapel erected on the site. A new church, now (1868) nearly completed, has been built, at the cost of the present Duke, on a site nearer the abbey. There are chapels for Independents and Wesleyans, and a free school for boys, founded in 1582 by Francis, second Earl of Bedford; a similar school for girls, founded by the late Duke in 1825, and 12 almshouses for 24 widows, founded and endowed by John, fourth Duke of Bedford in 1672. Market day is on Friday. Fairs are held on 1st January, 23rd March, 13th July, and 6th October."

"BIRCHMOOR GREEN, a hamlet in the parish of Woburn, county of Bedfordshire, ½ mile north of Woburn.

"NEW ENGLAND, a hamlet in the parish of Woburn, hundred of Manshead, county Beds, 2 miles north east of Woburn, and 10 south west of Bedford."

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

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