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Great Bowden

Description in 1877:
"Bowden Magna, or Great Bowden, is a long straggling village, with several good houses, pleasantly situated about a mile N.E. of Market Harborough, on the north side of the vale of the River Welland, which separates it from Northamptonshire. Its parish is in Gartree Hundred, Market Harborough Union and County Court District, and, comprising the two townships of Great Bowden and Market Harborough, in 1871 contained 3812 inhabitants, living in 831 houses, on 3120 acres of land. It is traversed on the west by the Union Canal, and on the east by the Rugby and Stamford and the Midland Railways. The soil is clay, and chiefly pasture, and is supposed to be the best grazing land in England."
[White's "History, Gazetteer and Directory of the Counties of Leicester and Rutland. 3rd Edition," 1877]


  • A cemetery of about 2 acres was formed in 1879 and was under the control of the Market Harborough Urban District Council.


  • The parish was in the Market Harborough sub-district of the Market Harborough Registration District.
  • The 1851 Census for Leicestershire has been indexed by the Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society. The whole index is available on microfiche.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1841 H.O. 107 / 589
1861 R.G. 9 / 2249
1871 R.G. 10 / 3225
1891 R.G. 12 / 2491


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Great Bowden area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church History

  • The Anglican parish church was dedicated to Saint Peter (Some sources say St. Peter and St. Paul).
  • The church was built in the 13th century.
  • The church was restored in 1887.
  • The church seats 365.
  • The churchyard was closed in 1879.
  • Half a mile east of Market Harborough stands the church of St. Mary-in-Arden, built in 1693, which has a parish of 450 cares, part of which is in Northamtonshire.

Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1559 for baptisms, 1560 for burials and 1564 for marriages.
  • The church was in the rural deanery of Gartree (first portion).
  • The Society of Genealogists holds microfiche copies of Great Bowden parish records including baptisms from 1559 - 1880, marriages from 1564 - 1837 and burials from 1560 - 1857 which can be studied at their library in London.
  • The Congregationalists had a chapel built here in 1886 in place of an older structure.

Civil Registration

  • Civil Registration began in July, 1837.
  • The parish was in the Market Harborough sub-district of the Market Harborough Registration District.

Description and Travel

This village and parish lie just northeast of Market Harborough, just off of the A6 trunk road. Great Bowden may be considered a suburb of Market Harborough. The parish is 14 miles southeast of Leicester city and is bound on the west by the Grand Union Canal and on the south and east by the River Welland.

If you are planning a visit:

  • The village has its own website with local news and events.
You can see pictures of Great Bowden which are provided by:

Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Great Bowden has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


  • In the 1800s and early 1900s, much of the parish was pasturage.
  • The village hall was built and opened in 1903.


  • See our Maps page for additional resources.
You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SP740880 (Lat/Lon: 52.484880, -0.911697), Great Bowden which are provided by:

Military Records

There are five Commonwealth War Graves in Great Bowden Cemetery, two from World War I and three from World War II.


  1. Albert Edward MARTIN, priv., 7th Dragoon Guards, died 1 Nov. 1918.
  2. Horace John MARTIN, priv. 2nd class, RAF, age 29, died 23 Nov. 1918. Son of Mrs. Rosa MARTIN.


  1. Michael George BERRY, corp., 1/5th Btn. Leics. Regt., age 18, died 26 Nov. 1939. Son of John George and Hilda Crawford BERRY.
  2. George Roy DAWSON, driver, 1st Div. Royal Corps of Signals, age 32, died 26 Oct. 1942. Son of Arthur and Maud Emily DAWSON.
  3. George OLIVER, ldg. stoker, Royal Navy (H.M.S. Limhourne), age 28, died 28 Oct. 1943. Husband of Caroline Elizabeth OLIVER.

Politics and Government

  • The parish is in the ancient Gartree Hundred in the southern division of the county.
  • The parish was enlarged by about 112 acres in April, 1924, by gaining part of Lubenham Civil Parish.
  • In October, 1927, the parish was abolished and all 3,290 acres amalgamated into Market Harborough township and Civil Parish.

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • Bastardy cases would be heard in the Market Harborough petty session hearings held every other Tuesday.
  • As a result of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act reforms, this parish became part of the Market Harborough Poorlaw Union.
  • Market Harborough Workhouse is in this parish.


Year Inhabitants
1841 1,265
1871 1,450
1881 1,985
1891 2,259
1901 3,749
1911 4,427
1921 4,323


  • A Public Elementary School (National School) was built here in 1839. The school was enlarged in 1873.


  • Market Harborough online have pages for Great Bowden Heritage which is active on Anglo-Saxon Heritage - and a wild flower survey.